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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump Admits He Has No Tapes Of Comey Talks; Reports: Investigators Looking At Whether Trump Associates Obtained Info From Hacked Voter Databases; Awaiting Trump Remarks At Congressional Picnic. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired June 22, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:01] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much for watching, I'm Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room. Erin Burnett OutFront starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN OUTFRONT ANCHOR: OutFront next breaking news, president Trump about to appear live at the White House in moments. This as he tweets, he has no taped to his conversations with James Comey. Why did it take him 41 days to say that?
Plus, CNN has learned Trump suggested two top intelligence officials, say it publicly, there was no collusion between him and Russia. Does that rise to the level of obstruction of justice? And senate republicans roll out their health care bill. Is it dead on arrival? Let's go OutFront.
Hi, good evening, I'm Erin Burnett, OutFront tonight, breaking news, there are no tapes. The president's big bluff blown as a house investigation deadline forced his hand. President Trump with a major admission, taking to twitter to say, he has no tapes of his conversations with fired FBI Director James Comey. Trump tweeting this, "With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance intercepts a massing and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are "tapes" or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make and do not have any such recordings."
Now today at another audio only press briefing, the Deputy Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was repeatedly pressed on the tapes. And at one point, she was asked, why did the president play this game for 41 days?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: I don't know that it was a game. Again, he's answered the question. He gave a timeline in the frame in which he would, and he did that. He said by the end of the week and he's done that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: By the way, let's make it clear. That wasn't his timeline. That was the deadline given to provide recordings by the house intelligence committee, OK? So he could have dragged this on interminably. And if it wasn't a game, why did it take 41 days to answer a very simple question that he knew the answer to the whole time? It certainly feels like a game and it's a game that actually costs taxpayer's money. Several government agencies were required to spend time in money trying to track down the truth, because prior to the president's tweet today, at least four agencies told CNN that they had no record of a White House recording system. Here is a little of the gamesmanship from the president and his team over those 41 days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did president Trump record his conversations with former FBI Director Comey?
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has nothing further to add on that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said that you had no idea whether or not there was a taping system in the oval office. Could you try to find out?
SANDERS: Sure. I'll try to look under the couches.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do tapes exist of your conversations with him?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Yeah. Well, I'll tell you about that maybe sometime in the very near future.
SPICER: The president made clear in the Rose Garden last week that he'll have an announcement shortly.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He'll let us know, everybody has to wait and see.
JAY SEKULOW, MEMBER, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LEGAL TEAM: I think the president is going to address that in the week ahead.
SPICER: And the president has said that he will make an announcement on this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Making a joke of something so serious. One senior administration official tells CNN that Trump has actually been amused by all the reporting about the tapes. This person added that if Trump doesn't regret this bizarre episode of his presidency, that is -- that person's word, he should. But official is saying that the fall out from the tape story led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Athena Jones is OutFront tonight at the White House where the President is about to make his first public appearance since his tweet about the tapes. And that is moments from now as we await the President and some comments we expect him to make live. Athena, he finally did come out and he answered the question. But he did it because there was a deadline from the house intelligence committee and raised perhaps more questions. ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Erin. That's right. We have more questions that does not mean we're getting more answers. There could be standards, the Deputy Press Secretary during that off camera briefing repeatedly said things like the President's tweets speaks for itself or the President has been very clear about this or that when that is not at all the case. Listen to some of what she had to say during the briefing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm curious why it took so long, 41 days for this to be laid to rest and whether the president is recording any oval office conversations?
SANDERS: You guys asked for an answer. He gave you one. He said he would have it to you by the end of this week which he did and beyond timing of that, I can't really speak any further.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And on the oval office recordings?
SANDERS: I'm not aware of anything. I think his statement here is pretty clear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: But again, it's not clear at all. For one thing in the tweet in which the president is denying that he has any tapes, he seems to suggest that others might, that he might be being surveilled. That's an idea that Sanders dismissed. We also still don't know why the President sent this tweet in the first place. Many have interpreted as a threat to Comey. Was it? Was the president trying to ensure that Comey would be truthful in talking about their conversations? Sanders was asked that question as well and she gave a muddled nonsensical answer. So we still don't know why this happened in the first place. Erin?
BURNETT: All right, Athena, thank you very much. And, of course, if it did intimidate Comey, it didn't change what he said, which he said, which is that he felt the president was ordering him a loyalty pledge, and of course, directing him to stop the investigation to general Michael Flynn.
[19:05:09] Manu Raju is OutFront on Capitol Hill. And Manu, as Athena points out, the president is saying he doesn't have any tapes, but raising the specter of perhaps there being someone else who does and at least one of the key people in charge of this investigation on Capitol Hill is also raising that question tonight.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yeah, that's right. That Adam Schiff, the ranking democrat on the house intelligence committee telling our colleague Wolf Blitzer last hour that he does actually believe that this tweet, as he said, was carefully worded. It appears to be have done by lawyers according to the view of Adam Schiff and perhaps there are other tapes. And as we know the house intelligence committee has set a deadline for tomorrow for any of these recordings to be turned over to the house intelligence committee as well as those memos that James Comey, the former FBI Director, apparently wrote about an interaction with president Trump wanting that -- setting that deadline for tomorrow for Comey to turn those over. No indication that that is going to happen.
Now, it is unclear whether or not there are any recordings. CNN has filed a number of foyer requests with a number of agencies to try figure out if there are recordings. So far nothing back yet. There are no response of docs in response to that. But Erin, one other piece of news of the house intelligence committee is moving forward. Next week, they do plan to bring forward Hillary Clinton's former campaign manage chairman, John Podesta to interview him. Of course, it's for dozens e-mails were hacked into, leaked and became a political problem. They will hear from him in a classified session next week, Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Manu, thank you very much. And OutFront now, Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell, a member of the house intelligence committee. And Congressman, thanks for being with me. I mean, just to be clear, the president today says he had no tapes in a tweet. The top democrat in your committee though Congressman Adam Schiff says that still doesn't mean there aren't any tapes. He is holding firm to tomorrow's deadline for a formal response from the White House. Do you think Congressman that someone on the president's staff or someone in the intelligence community made or has tapes?
ERIC SWALWELL (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Good evening, Erin, thank you for having me back. It is our job to find out. I honestly don't know whether there are tapes or not. The president suggested it. We put a deadline out there. And when you read that tweet, it's like reading a text message that someone sent to you, but didn't mean to send to you. You know that that's not the voice you normally talk to that person. And that we've all come to know the president's tweets over the past few years. That doesn't sound like the president. It sounds like a lawyer. So we have a duty to find out if tapes did exist and report back to the American people.
BURNETT: Now, we have said that at least four government agencies, right, have had to come out and do the work to see if they were recording devices or if they had taped, secret service among them. I mean do you think it's possible that somebody was surveilling the president? I mean I will have to agree with you. The tweet was very clear and lawyered that he himself didn't have anything, right? I mean certainly it raises that question. But do you think it's likely?
SWALWELL: There is no evidence that anyone in the intelligence community is out to get the president or surveilling the president. Now, there is -- there have been stories that Donald Trump in the past has recorded conversations before he was president. So, you know, you can't rule that out.
SWALWELL: But to your point about the cost here, it's not just the cost to the taxpayers. It's the cost of what he has done to Washington. We had been brought to a grinding halt, not able to work on the issues that people have sent us here for around jobs, health care and, you know, the dreams they have for their kids education. And that I think is the biggest toll.
BURNETT: So it's been 41 days, OK, 41 days Congressman since the president's initial tweet suggesting. When he put tapes in quotes, right, talking about James Comey, 41 days later, he admits he doesn't have anything. The White House today, you heard the deputy press secretary where we heard what she said, denying the president was playing a game. What do you think he was doing?
SWALWELL: Well, he was -- he either had a taping system and we're going to have to find it or to me it sounds like he was trying to chill or intimidate James Comey. And what's remarkable about that is that James Comey didn't know either way whether there were tapes and came forward anyway. So if there were tapes and he told a lie to congress, he risked perjury. So I think that goes to show just how believable and how credible James Comey's testimony was, which is very damaging for the president.
BURNETT: So I just want to play a clip from that because the president's initial tweet about there being tapes was the reason that James Comey said, he decided to leak the memos, right? Here's how Comey put it in that testimony.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: The president tweeted on Friday after I got fired that I better hope there is no tapes. I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night because it didn't down on me originally that there might be corroboration for our conversation. There might be a tape. And my judgment was I needed to get that out into the public square. And so I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with the reporter.
[19:10:02] I didn't do it myself for a variety of reasons but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of the Special Counsel. And so, I asked a close friend of mine to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: When the president came out and said that there were tapes and then James Comey came out and said his version didn't change it. He said he felt he was directed and ordered by the president to stop the investigation into General Michael Flynn. Did the president succeed in his tweets on casting doubt on James Comey?
SWALWELL: No. No, there are no good outcomes. Again, either he secretly recorded the FBI Director or he was trying to keep the FBI Director from coming forward. Now, what I think Americans want is for this investigation to move forward in the house, the senate and also with the FBI. But also for the president to stop obstructing and keeping Washington from being focussed on every day concerns. And he just continues to do that. By the way, he announced this today at the same time the senate was releasing their very harmful affordable health care act repeal.
BURNETT: So you mentioned where this investigation is going and I want to ask you something important. CBS in time at this moment actually are reporting congressman that your committee is investigating whether Trump campaign associates obtained information from hacked voter databases. That's obviously very significant thing. Is this something that you are, in fact, looking at?
SWALWELL: One of the goals of the investigation is to understand the hacking that Russia conducted that went into voter information databases. There is no evidence right now that any information that Russia viewed or may have obtained was passed along to the Trump campaign. But I do believe --
BURNETT: No evidence at this point you are saying, OK.
SWALWELL: -- no. But I do believe we have a -- there's a lot of evidence to review. And at this point, you know, we're going to review all the evidence. We want access to everything before we can make a conclusion about it. But right now, you know, if we find that evidence, we should be able to follow it, but right now, drawing no conclusions on that report.
BURNETT: OK. But you are saying, the evidence you have doesn't show it, but there's evidence -- more evidence out there. So you are not ready to conclude that there was no getting information from these databases?
SWALWELL: Yeah. Let -- yeah, let me just be clear, Erin.
SWALWELL: In the public intelligence report, we know that Russia went into state voter databases. We want to learn if they obtained anything. And if they did obtain anything, who did they pass it to? So, you know, we will follow that wherever it goes, but it's too early to conclude where that -- if they obtained any information where they passed it to anyone, yeah.
BURNETT: And before we go, then, if they did pass it to anyone who was related to Trump, is that collusion?
SWALWELL: Well, again, too early to say. And I would really rather just have access to all of this information before I draw any conclusions.
BURNETT: All right. Congressman, Swalwell, thank you for coming on, appreciate your time.
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
BURNETT: And OutFront next, we're standing by for the President of the United States, Donald Trump about to speak at a White House event. Will he talk about the tapes? You see everyone gathered there. He is going to be speaking in a moment. We're going to bring this to you live. He haven't commented since his tweet. Plus, the senate rolling out its version of the health care bill and already several republicans say, they won't vote as of now. By the way, that would mean it is dead on arrival, is it? And the Special Counsel, Bob Mueller interviewing two intelligence officials. What they told him about president Trump?
[19:16:59] BURNETT: All right, you see Ivanka Trump there. This is just outside the White House. Live pictures right outside. Moments away because Trump will be making his first public comments since he admitted he has no tapes of his conversation with Jim Comey. This is basically a congressional picnic. As you see, Ivanka Trump is going to be there. The president will be making comments. The vice president will be making comments. This is for congress and their families.
We will see. He should be approaching to speak any moment from now and we are going to bring that to you live. The former assistant secretary for the department of homeland security Juliette Kayyem joins me in the meantime along with our commentator Kirsten Powers and our senior political analyst Mark Preston. Thanks very much to all of you. And as we await the president, comments that he may make, see whether he responds to his tweet which is always put out there thus far.
Mark, there is this crucial question here, of course, which is the White House says of course that this wasn't a game. Although, if it was -- I mean, if it wasn't, I mean give me a break. Why did it take so long for us to find out? Forty one days that these tapes didn't exist?
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well a couple of things, one, as you said 41 days immature best, potentially unlawful at worst, but no matter how you look at it, very reckless. The idea that you are going to lead the American people, that you are going to put your own republicans in jeopardy of having to answer questions because you have decided to mislead the American public about whether or not you are taping conversations in the oval office is reckless, Erin.
BURNETT: I mean, Juliette, reckless, is that a word you would use?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, FMR. ASSISTANT SECY DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Yeah. I'm going to just use the L word. I mean he lied. And there is just no way around it. I think I went home and my kids asked me, kids asked me, what does the president do? The only answer is he lied. And the question now is why. We are focussed on obstruction of justice a lot these days. I this it's a wrong way to look at it. There is that underlying series of potential crimes. Obstruction of justice is just one of them. And the defendant or a witness who tends to lie, objurgate, you know, try to harass witnesses is someone who tends to fear justice being served. That is generally why people obstruct justice or they lie or intimidate witnesses.
So this just seems to me like the president lie because he is fearful of something that's coming out. We would say that of any defendant or witness who had done this. But because, it is the president, you know, it was sort of, it's hard to say that word. But this was just a sort of blatant lie at this stage.
BURNETT: Kirsten? KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, yeah, it was either a lie or it was sort of an adolescent outburst, right? Where he just thinks he can say things and that's, you know, that again, that's like our best case scenario. I think the worst case scenario is more that it was more nefarious than that. And Newt Gingrich came out and said that he was trying to rattle James Comey. So that's the sort of basically saying, he was trying to intimidate James Comey who was going to be testifying. So, you know, that seems to kind of fit into this sort of obstruction, you know, situation where he's trying -- he's putting himself in the middle of this investigation in a way that's just highly inappropriate.
[19:20:06] BURNETT: And Juliette, we're -- as we await the President, see whether he's going to respond to this.
BURNETT: We're listening to the marine band play for members of congress and their families who are gathered as we await the president. You know, Kirsten raises the point here of Newt Gingrich, saying the president was trying to rattle Jim Comey. Look, the Trump biographer told CNN that Trump claimed he was recording their talks during interviews. But when Trump was later deposed in this situation, he allegedly changed his story, said he didn't have the tapes. He only pretended to have them in order to intimidate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIMOTHY O'BRIEN, BLOOMBERG VIEW EXECUTIVE EDITOR: My attorney said Mr. Trump, do you have a taping system? And he said no. And he said, well, then why did you say this to Mr. O'Brien. He essentially said, I wanted to intimidate him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So Juliette, if this is, you know, a vast, Trump was trying to intimidate Jim Comey by saying that were tapes, what does that mean for the Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation?
KAYYEM: Well, the incredibly backfired, because, remember, this was -- and let's say, it was this tweet about the potential for tapes that led Jim Comey, at least by his testimony to then be worried about Trump trying to intimidate witnesses that then led to the appointment of the special prosecutor. So even as an intimidation factor, it get completely backfired on Trump.
But Mueller is a sophisticated prosecutor, that a team of a dozen of the best prosecutors in the country. They know why witnesses or defendants or whatever Trump status is, why they do this. From a national security perspective just to remind people, he is the president of the United States. The rest of the world is looking at this and they say that our president either lies and our enemies know that he bluffs. That weakens our position when we need our allies to do something and when we need our enemies to believe us. So this is not just a domestic story. From a national security perspective, this is -- it's disconcerting. BURNETT: Mark, if the Special Counsel concludes he did this to
intimidate Jim Comey, what would the implication of that be?
PRESTON: You know, I'm not quite sure, because there has been such a wide flocks of opinion, what could happen. Could he actually not be convicted at all because he is the president of the United States?
PRESTON: Is he amused to it? I mean I don't know. And I quite frankly, it all depends what scholar, you speak to. I think what Juliette said is extremely important. For this reason alone is that our allies are going to have to be sort of respect about everything -- every conversation that they have with the president. And will be followed through in his promises. Also, here in the United States, lawmakers on Capitol Hill, can they trust the president's word? I don't think this is necessarily going to hurt him with his supporters?
PRESTON: Because there is so much information right now, Erin, right? This information overload, this is just another thing to heap on top of the pile. For the people he's got to work with and that have got to have his trust, that's problematic.
BURNETT: I mean Kirsten, it's interesting. You know, there is a line in president Trump's book, "The Art of the Deal". And it says, "Good publicity is preferable to bad, but from a bottom-line perspective, bad publicity is sometimes better than no publicity at all. Controversy, in short sells."
BURNETT: Now, you heard our source state that he was amused that all this conversation about the tapes and 41 days of refusing to say something that he knew the very second that he sent out that tweet which is he didn't have a tape. Does this uproar hurt him at all? I mean, as Mark points out, no one is base, no one I don't think would say that, but does it hurt him?
POWERS: Yeah. I mean it definitely, his base seems and, you know, for the long haul and there doesn't seem to be anything he can do that will upset him. But I do think that, you know, his credibility just totally gets chipped away when he does things like this. It just does make I think most sort of rational people say, look, this is the president of the United States. You know, what is he doing? You know, if he has tapes, he should just say he has tapes or if he doesn't have tapes, he should just say he doesn't have tapes. And he said he treats it like shocked of all shocked, like a reality TV show, right, where he's going to toss something out there. Let everybody run after it and then he has to slow reveal of when he's going to tell us and then he finally comes out and tells us. You know, this is not a game, though. You know, as Julietter pointed out, I mean this is the leader of the free world.
BURNETT: All right, thank you all very much. And as you can see, the marine band, everyone is gathered. Just to be clear here, the vice president is anticipated to make comments, as well as the president of the United States. We are going to bring this to you live, and the senate health care bill, drawn up behind closed doors angering some senators on both sides of the aisle.
So after all of this secrecy and now money getting at CBO sports until middle of next week really is there to before a vote, is there a chance this doesn't pass? And two top intelligence officials make a major admission to the Special Counsel Bob Mueller. What did Trump suggests they do?
[19:28:42] BURNETT: Breaking news. You see the vice president of the United States along with his wife Karen Pence. He is speaking at the White House congressional picnic. He is introducing the president of the United States who will come to that podium momentarily and give some brief remarks. The president, of course, tweeting today that he has no tapes of his conversations with Jim Comey. A tweet he only put out there, because there is a house deadline from the intelligence committee on providing that information. He hasn't commented publically since that tweet in any way, so he may comment on that. He also may, of course, comment on health care after he came out and said he supported the senate bill. But as I said, you see the vice president here giving a brief introduction to the president, who will be coming to that podium in just a couple of moments.
MIKE PENCE, VICE-PRESIDENTS OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It's always about being able to --
BURNETT: Ryan Nobles is with me right now. And Ryan, I just, you know, as we're getting ready for this, obviously, you could talk about the tapes. He also could talk about health care. He said that and came out and said he supports the senate bill that they have put out there. But could you just give us the run down here of this bill that they produced in secret and they want to get a vote by next week. It hasn't gotten a CBO score yet and they don't seem to have the votes yet. Do they?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: They really don't Erin. And they don't have the votes on either side of the political spectrum. They've got a problem now with the band of conservative senators, Tea Party senators in some respect lead by Rand Paul and Ted Cruz who have said the bill in its current form does not meet muster for them.
[19:30:11] And then they've also have a problem with moderate senators on the other side of the equation. Dean Heller of Nevada and Susan Collins of Maine. We still haven't heard from Lisa Murkowski from Alaska.
So, this is the ongoing problem with health care for Republicans satisfying the needs of both conservatives and moderates. They were able to do it in the House. Unsure if they will be able to do it here in the Senate.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Ryan.
And as Ryan was speaking, the president of the United States and his wife Melania coming out of the White House, approaching to the podium. And the president will be making some remarks here to congressional members and their families.
Let's listen in.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is so beautiful. Wow.
Thank you, Vice President Pence. Thank you, Karen. You have been such a tremendous help to me, both of you, and we very much appreciate it, and Melania and myself, we have become great finds and great job. Really great job. Thank you.
This is truly become, as you know, a wonderful tradition. It's the very first congressional picnic that Melania and I have the pleasure of hosting, so I hope you enjoy it. I hope you enjoy it.
We have gotten to know many of you over the last weeks and months and developed many friendships with politicians. Can you believe it?
And some really great people, I have to say, mostly. Mostly. A couple of bad ones, but that's OK.
But we're honored to host you at the White House and privileged to count you as our very close friends, so many.
Tonight our thoughts and prayers remain with one friend who is not here, a man that we have all come to know and respect and to love, Congressman Steve Scalise.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
The outpouring of support for Steve and his family has been truly inspiring. We are so touched that joining us here this evening are Steve and Jennifer's children, Harrison and Madison.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Beautiful children. In fact, we just gave them a tour of the White House. Just gave them a beautiful tour of the White House. They got the A-tour. You know, sometimes we give the B, the C, the D and the F tours just like here it is, let's get out of here. We gave them the A tour.
And I want them to know that the whole country is praying for their courageous dad and all of us are praying for them. It's been amazing. The recovery is going now well. For two days, they're saying it's really tough. But today, I can report things are looking very, very good. So, we're very happy about that.
I also want to give a very special thanks to Special Agents Griner and Bailey of the Capitol Police.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Lucky they were there. For their life-saving actions and all of the members of Congress, a lot of brave people in Congress who acted in those moments of danger and protected each other. They cared for the wounded. They shielded the vulnerable. And they really did put their own safety aside.
So, I want to thank some of those people were really very, very brave. We would have never really found out about them, except we got to see them in action. So, now we know for sure. But we want to thank them. That was a great deal of bravery on behalf of everybody.
And, you know, Agents Griner and Bailey, they came rushing in from the outfield, somebody with a rifle and they had handguns, and that's not a good -- that's not a good deal. But one of those bullets struck at the right place and that was really -- that was really incredible or that would have been a far worse morning, believe me. So, we want to thank them.
America is also filled with pride over the display of character and sportsmanship at the congressional baseball game. I heard it was very special. I wanted to go there, but our folks from Secret Service said maybe we better take a pass. I wanted to be there so badly, you have no idea.
[19:35:01] But I spent a little time at the hospital instead with Steve.
It's our hope that this unity that was displayed that evening can maybe continue to grow and thrive between Republicans and Democrats. And I think, honestly, I think we'd all be doing a lot better, and I know the country would be doing a lot better.
The American people have entrusted us with great responsibility, and I know that we will prove worthy of the trust they have placed in each of us. I'm hopeful that the spirit of cooperation that we've seen in recent days will deepen as we move forward.
I really believe it's something that can happen. Maybe it's too early. Maybe the wounds are too deep in terms of the relationship because it's been bad for a long time, a long time. Not just when we got there. I mean, this has gone on for many years. And hopefully, those wounds can heal and heal quickly because we owe it to the American people.
Tonight, let us enjoy the company of friends and the comfort of our loved ones, and tomorrow let us continue to do the people's bidding and create the optimistic future our citizens so richly deserve.
I want to thank you all for being here tonight. It's a very special evening. Beautiful evening. And I just want to say God bless you and God bless America. Thank you very much. Thank you.
Thank you very much.
BURNETT: The president there welcoming members of Congress and their families to the congressional picnic. There with his wife Melania.
Jason Miller joins me now, CNN political commentator, former senior communications adviser for the Trump campaign, along with Jen Psaki, political commentator, former White House communications director for President Obama, and Mark Preston, our senior political analyst, also with me now.
You know, Mark, I think important there what he said. He kept it very much focused on the tragedy that just struck Congress, on Congress trying to work together. Did not talk about the tapes or elaborate on that and did not talk about what is in front of everyone on that lawn tonight, which is health care.
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, he didn't. In many ways, he gave a traditional presidential speech. He was, you know, it was very smart of him and kind of him to talk about the bravery of the Capitol Hill police officers, as well as to talk about Steve Scalise and the others.
But he did talk about the need for bipartisan spirit to come back to Washington, D.C. and he's right about that, because this is a very, very bitter place. However, he does have his own problems within his party right now, as Democrats have their own problems. I think that has to be worked out first before they could actually come together as Democrats or Republicans to work things out.
BURNETT: So, Jason, on that point, this is a crucial moment, politically for the president when it comes to health care, right? He talks about bipartisanship, yes, he needs that, but he needs his own party in line. He could afford to loose two votes in the Senate and still get his health care bill passed. Right now, there are four Republican senators saying they oppose this bill, including Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Ron Johnson.
Is he going to be able to get them on board and this is a crucial victory. He needs it.
JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This is very important. I think that the president is going to get these folks on board to get this legislation across the finish line.
And a couple of important things happened today. Number one, the president weighed in and said he's fully on board with this bill. Obviously, there are going to be some tinkering around or some changes as it moves to the process. But when you listen to the conservative senators who have not yet signed on, they definitely want to get to a yes. I mean, that came across very strong and very clear.
In particular, my former boss, Senator Ted Cruz went at length to say how he wants to get to a yes, and he had a really innovative solution to bring down the cost of premiums, which is essentially a provider is in the market offering a base plan, they also should be able to get in the market with a smaller stripped down plan that will -- people can decide that option as opposed to the more expensive one.
MILLER: This is something that will result in lower premium costs. I think that's a very smart amendment that he has. I think they should get that incorporated into it. And look I think they want to get to a yes here.
BURNETT: Certainly with someone like Ted Cruz, it's hard to disagree with you, Jason.
But, Jen, there are some that do not feel that way. And again, I get back to the point where they can afford to hemorrhage two votes. And you usually use the word hemorrhage to describe two votes. But in this case, that's all they can afford to lose.
Rand Paul today said, I didn't run on Obamacare light, which is by the way what he referred to the House bill as. I didn't run on allowing the death spiral of Obamacare to continue, just to subsidize it with taxpayer money.
[19:40:00] It is hard to believe given the principles of Rand Paul, Jen, that you would ever get him to a yes on this. Maybe. But it's a much harder thing to have leaped, and if you can't count on that vote, they can only lose one more.
JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, and the Rand Paul has been pretty clear from the beginning, this is not something that he wants to get to a yes on. But the other problem Jason didn't address here is if you make changes to address the conservatives to get some of the people on board who came out against the bill today, you are going to anger and upset some of the moderates and many of them have been outspoken about their concerns about --
BURNETT: Defunding Planned Parenthood --
PSAKI: Right, exactly. Planned Parenthood, you have Murkowski, you have Portman, you have Collins. There are a number of members that are in that bucket, who are waiting to watch and see here. But a lot of them have expressed, John Kasich just put out a statement. Many moderate Republicans out there have put out -- have been clear that they also have concerns.
So, there is not a lot of wiggle room here that Trump or the leadership has to work with.
BURNETT: And, Mark, here's the thing. They're also rushing this in the sense of they did it behind closed doors. They didn't include people. They did it in secrecy, which made a lot of people in their own party angry.
And now, they say we're going to put it out there and we want to vote next week. They don't even have a CBO score, which means they'll get a CBO score, what, 24, 48 hours before a vote? Is that a smart strategy?
PRESTON: Well, look, what I think Republican leaders are trying to do on Capitol Hill is to try to get this behind them. Whether they're able to get the votes or not, because they do not want to have --
BURNETT: So, you're saying they don't care, like if it doesn't pass who cares, let's just get it done and move to tax reform?
PRESTON: Well, I think they do want it to pass. But I also think there is the reality of what they're up against right now while trying to mollify all the concerns of conservatives and moderates and really undertaking on an incredible task of just basically taking Obamacare as we know it, throwing it out the window and trying to rebuild it from what it is.
Look, it has a lot of flaws, we understand that. But the idea that Republicans themselves can't come together on this issue is really creating a lot of headaches. Not just for President Trump but really for the Republican leaders. And as we -- if we go back in time and you look at what happened to Democrats when they were trying to do Obamacare, if you remember what was going on during those town halls where it got loud, someone got a little violent, Republicans don't want to see that this summer.
BURNETT: Jason, do you think that they fundamentally leadership -- of course they want it to pass. It is better for them to pass. But that they fundamentally don't care because tax reform is what they want?
MILLER: No. They definitely want to go and get this passed. And all you have to look at yesterday's news with Anthem BlueCross BlueShield pulling out of Indiana and Ohio and Wisconsin. I mean, as the president says over and over, Obamacare is imploding. We have to go and fix it.
And I think that's what they're trying to do now. And there are important things to keep in mind, too, is we can't talk about health care in a complete vacuum. I mean, we're talking about the economy here. Once we get rid of these job-killing regulations and restrictions, the things that keep employers from having folks on board more than 32 hours a week or hiring more than 50 employees, and this is going to make a difference in the economy. Plus, we can take the savings from slowing down the Medicaid growth rate over this time, put that into these tax cuts, cut the corporate tax, cut marginal rates for middle income Americans, we could get this economy going and start pushing up on that 3 percent growth that we so desperately wanted to get to.
BURNETT: Now, of course someone could say these insurers are now rushing to do this to try to force Congress's hands.
Jean, you know, the former president of the United States, President Obama, released a statement today about this bill. He said in part simply put if there is a chance you might get sick, get old or start a family, this bill will do you harm. He continues to say, any tweaks cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.
By the way, mean is a word that the current president of the United States, Donald Trump, used to describe the bill as it came out of the House. Will the former president's words matter? Obviously, you know how Democrats are voting on this already.
PSAKI: Right. Democrats are aligned in their opposition to this because they don't think that gutting Medicaid and making premiums jack up and putting people who rely on coverage for maternity care and for mental health coverage should be gutted around the country. But there are a lot of Republicans on the edge on this issue as well. And you have seen them speak out about their concerns about what this would do to their constituents, how it impacts low-income people.
You know, Jason referenced there being a downward spiral. That is not what any independent analyst has ever said. There are issues in state marketplaces because there is not enough competition. That should be addressed.
But this is a complete bait and switch. You don't gut Medicaid and give tax cuts to the rich to address that issue. It is not addressing the core issue and the core problem.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much. I appreciate your time, as the picnic continues.
Next, stunning revelations from two of America's top intelligence officials about President Trump, Russia and collusion. It's a CNN exclusive.
And Trump says he doesn't have any tapes. But Jeanne Moos does.
[19:48:51] BURNETT: New tonight a CNN exclusive: two of the nation's top intelligence officials admit President Trump suggested they publicly say there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia. This is according to multiple sources.
National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and NSA director, Admiral Mike Rogers, revealing these details both to the special counsel Bob Mueller and to Senate investigators.
The sources tell us that they describe the president's request, Coats and Rogers did, as odd and uncomfortable. And this admission is significant because in public testimony, both men dodged the question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: Is there an invocation by the president of the United States of executive privilege? Is there or not?
ADMIRAL MIKE ROGERS, NSA DIRECTOR: Not that I'm aware of.
KING: And why are you not answering the question?
ROGERS: Because I feel it is inappropriate, Senator.
KING: You swore that oath to tell us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and today, you are refusing to do so. What is the legal basis for your refusal to testify to this committee?
DAN COATS, DNI: I'm not sure I have a legal basis, but I am more than willing to sit before this committee during its investigative process in a closed session and answer your question.
[19:50:00] BURNETT: And, of course, in a closed session, we're reporting they did suggest -- they said the president suggested they publicly say there was no collusion.
OUTFRONT now, the new chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Congressman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, who also sits on the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman Gowdy, great to have you with me. I appreciate your time.
I know you met with Director Coats today because you said it was important to find out what was said in that conversation with the president, and what he heard, what he interpreted it as, whether it was a suggestion or a warning or something else, what the tone was, what the context was.
What did you find out?
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: What I found out, Erin, is that about eight hours ago, Adam Schiff and I looked Dan Coats in the eyes and we assured him that there would be no selective leaking of his testimony to us. And I'll be damned if eight hours later, there aren't three different leaks with what he told us.
So, if anyone is questioning why congressional investigations aren't taken seriously, and are viewed as political exercises, you need to look no further than the fact that we looked one of our intelligence officials in the eyes and promised him there would be no selective leaking. And here I am being asked about it, not even eight hours later.
BURNETT: So, Congressman, who leaked it? Was it Coats? Was it Schiff?
GOWDY: I can tell you --
BURNETT: Was there anyone else in the room other than the three of you?
GOWDY: Oh, no, there were eight people in the room. I can tell you who it was not. It was not me. And I do not believe it was Adam Schiff. He's a former federal prosecutor who knows that leaks undercut the efficacy and integrity of investigations.
I can't tell you who it is. But I can tell you this, you're going to have a chilling effect on other witnesses who want to share classified, sensitive information when it makes its way to the headlines before the transcript's even dry.
BURNETT: So, what you're saying is, it wasn't you, you don't believe it was Adam Schiff, it was Coats or somebody else in the room?
GOWDY: No, no, no. No. I don't think the man who asked us to promise that we would not leak the information leaked it.
GOWDY: There were eight other people in the room. I don't know who it was. I'm not going to speculate. I'm not going to guess.
I can tell you who it wasn't. It wasn't me, and I don't think it was Representative Schiff, because I know him, and because he joined me in making the pledge to a witness that we would not do the very thing that was done.
BURNETT: So, let me ask you on the substance of it. If Director Coats, Director Rogers, say the president suggested that they come out publicly and say there was no collusion. We've obviously heard the former FBI Director Jim Comey say, you know, when he was talking about the General Flynn investigation, that he felt that the president's request that he stop that was an order. He took it as such.
When you take all of these things together, do you think in any way, Congressman, that it leads to obstruction of justice?
GOWDY: Well, first of all, thank goodness we have a man named Bob Mueller that is going to look into that.
Congress does not investigate crime. We're not equipped to do it. We're not very good at it.
I have total confidence in Bob Mueller and I told him that Tuesday night.
Now, you gave me two hypotheticals, but they're very different. One is asking -- one hypothetical is the president asked two people if there was no evidence of collusion, would you say so publicly? That to me is tantamount to a defendant or a suspect asking the police if at the end of your investigation you find nothing, will you say that?
That is very different from what Director Comey alleged, which is that he felt pressure to stand down. Those are two separate fact patterns. And I'm sure that Bob Mueller will treat them separately.
BURNETT: You today questioned the former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, actually -- I'm sorry, yesterday --
GOWDY: Yes, ma'am.
BURNETT: -- whether there was any evidence or collusion between Russia and President Trump or his campaign, right? You asked him about this very issue. Let me play the exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOWDY: At the time you separated from service in January of 2017, had you seen any evidence that Donald Trump or any member of his campaign colluded, conspired, coordinated with the Russians or anyone else to infiltrate or impact our voter infrastructure?
JEH JOHNSON, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Not beyond what has been out there open source, and not beyond anything that I'm sure this committee has already seen and heard before directly from the intelligence community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, the president of the United States, Chairman, took this as an endorsement. He tweeted: Former Homeland Security adviser Jeh Johnson is the latest top intelligence official to state there was no grand scheme between Trump and Russia.
Jeh Johnson tonight actually came back and responded to the president and I wanted to play that for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: He spelled my name right. And I'll -- you know, as we speak, I'm sure there are members of the press comparing the tweet to what I actually said yesterday. My testimony speaks for itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:55:04] BURNETT: Comparing the tweet to what he actually said. What he actually said to you is that at the time he separated from service in January 2017, obviously, about, you know, five months ago, that's what he said.
Do you take this as what the president did, that this is a complete endorsement of his point of view?
GOWDY: Actually, Erin, what I take it as, is that a former washed up old prosecutor asked an inartful question of Jeh Johnson. There are really three subparts here. There's Donald Trump, there is the official campaign, and then there are the folks who may have represented themselves to be part of the campaign. That's usually how I ask the question, and that kind of tripartite level and the witness will give an answer to those three parts.
It was not intentional. But I asked the question inartfully of Jeh Johnson. And when he answered the way he did, it very easily could have been going to the third part of that tranche, which there has been public reporting on as opposed to the first two. So, I would say, blame me for a bad question, and not Jeh Johnson for a vague answer.
BURNETT: But -- yes, but the bottom line is, you're not taking a definitive one way or the other, because it was too broad?
GOWDY: I can't -- we are so early on in the investigatory process. We have interviewed less than a tenth of the witnesses that we're going to want to end up interviewing. So, I would hope no one was drawing any conclusions from anything. That's what you do at the end of the investigation, not in the front of it.
BURNETT: All right. Chairman Gowdy, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
GOWDY: Yes, ma'am. Thank you.
BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, no tapes, no problem, for Jeanne Moos.
BURNETT: And back to our top story tonight, Jeanne Moos with the tale of the tape.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tapes? What tapes? As President Trump shrugs this one off, Twitter reaction ranged in a laid-back, oh, to, are you kidding? You literally threatened Comey with tapes? And now you say you don't have them. The man's mind games are exhausting, tweeted someone else.
Sorry, Mr. Comey --
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: Lordy, I hope there are tapes.
MOOS: -- the actual Trump tapes, according to this tweet, are duct, scotch and masking, all misspelled.
The president's supporters fired back. Trump did what was necessary to make lying Jim Comey speak the truth. Tweeted another defender, Lordy, POTUS just blocked one of the most powerful men in the world and it paid off. Imagine playing poker against Trump.
Actually, he revealed his hand early.
REPORTER: Are there tapes, sir?
TRUMP: Oh, you're going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer. Don't worry.
MOOS: Maybe disappointed isn't the right word.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, this is nutty.
MOOS: You've got to keep your eyes on the magician's hands on all times. I never believe there were tapes. But now, Trump says there weren't any. I'm not so sure.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump is a national version of Candy Crush, wasting our time whether we like it or not.
MOOS: Some Trump critics took the president admitting the obvious, in stride. It's OK, he'll take care of it. Referring to special counsel Robert Mueller. After the president tweeted, I did not make and do not have any such recordings, one critic used a previous Trump tweet to reply, what a load of covfefe.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks for joining us. You can watch OUTFRONT anytime, anywhere on CNN Go.
"AC360" starts now.