Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Admits There are no Comey Tapes; Democrats Blast Senate Bill as "Heartless"; British PM Says E.U. Citizens Can Stay in U.K.; Grenfell Tower Fire. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired June 23, 2017 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:21] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everybody. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause. We're live in Los Angeles.


VAUSE: We are following two major stories out of Washington where President Trump has finally admitted he does not have recordings of his conversations with the former FBI director James Comey.

Also developing, Senate Republicans have unveiled their secret health care reform plan but the bill's passage is anything but certain.

WALKER: Four conservative Republicans -- Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson and Mike Lee say they won't support the bill because it doesn't do enough to lower premiums. Republicans can only afford to lose two votes and still pass the measure.

VAUSE: And President Trump admitting he does not have those recordings of his conversations with James Comey. It's been 41 days since the President tweeted "Comey better hope there are no tapes before you start leaking to the media."

WALKER: And now Mr. Trump says "With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking 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.

VAUSE: It has been a big day in U.S. politics. So joining us now CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist and Dave Jacobson and Republican consultant John Thomas; also with us senior reporter for Politico David Siders. Good to have you all with us.

Ok. Let's start with the first for this White House, the first presidential retraction of a presidential untruth. And it's this original tweet hinting about the records, Dave. It was an attempt to intimidate James Comey that it backfired spectacularly.

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Exponentially. I mean obviously we know after that tweet came out James Comey testified last week about it, a couple of weeks ago basically, you know, leaked the memos of his notes, of course, that sprung up this outside special counsel investigation.

But look, it was Donald Trump that kick started this whole speculation and controversy over these so-called tapes. It was also Donald Trump who said Mexico is going to pay for the wall. He also, by the way, said that he was being recorded by President Obama.

This is the guy, of course, who creates falsehood after falsehood and it begs the question of like why he's misleading the American public day after day. And that's why today, Adam Schiff, who's the leading Democrat in the House Intelligence Committee, of course, raised the question that look, the response that we got from the President today raises many questions and didn't answer answers.

VAUSE: Yes. Well, talk to (inaudible) the ethics are within the Obama administration a little later this hour, the legal implication.

WALKER: Yes. The other big news is that Trump was also talking to Fox News today and he said that he was considering firing Robert Mueller, the special counsel. Here's what he said. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should he recuse himself.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well he's very, very good friends with Comey which is very bothersome. But he's also -- we're going to have to see. I mean we're going to have to see in terms -- look, there has been no obstruction. There has been no collusion. There has been leaking by Comey. But there has been no collusion, no obstruction and virtually everybody agrees to that. So we'll have to see. I can say that the people that have been hired are all Hillary Clinton supporters.


WALKER: John -- do you think President Trump is really considering firing Robert Mueller because if he actually does that that could be used as evidence of obstruction of justice.

JOHN THOMAS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Yes. I mean I doubt that he would get to that point. I'm sure he's frustrated that there is this special investigation going on. And in fact the point that he's making, I'm sure he feels are accurate will lead to termination.

I don't think so. And to the tweet -- I mean I interpret that complete differently. I thought it was -- he was telling Comey, you know, I hope you didn't wiretap me. That would be terribly unfortunate. I didn't think that he was saying I have tapes.

WALKER: But don't you think --

VAUSE: You're the only one.

WALKER: I (inaudible) a lot on that one.

VAUSE: I just want to bring David Siders in because David, I mean legally for the President, it's a pretty steep hill to climb to try and fire Robert Mueller, isn't it?

DAVID SIDERS, POLITICO: Oh, I think politically it's a steep hill to climb. Republicans and Democrats alike in Washington hold that person in really high esteem. And I almost think that might be a bridge too far for the President.

VAUSE: Well, the acting Attorney General would have to fire Mueller and Trump would have to tell the acting Attorney General to do it -- right.

SIDERS: That's right. And that would be complicated for a number of reasons, not least of which the political support for those people.

WALKER: What is your take David on President Trump's mea culpa? I mean if you look back at history President Trump does have a history of making unfounded claims.

SIDERS: It's so interesting how he resolves this one, right. One of the huge unfounded claims he's famous for making is the conspiracy theory about President Obama's birthplace. And the way he resolved that was with a big show. And that's the way he's handled a lot of other major announcements recently.

[00:05:03] And yet on this issue he chose to do something with two fairly-crafted tweets. He could have announced something in Iowa last night. He didn't do that. So I think this was a concerted effort by the President to put this issue to bed and to do it on the day when many people are talking about something else instead which is healthcare.

VAUSE: Yes, it started with a tweet but it may not end with a tweet.

You know, Dave, essentially the President has admitted he was bluffing, right. And that claim or that bluff will be heard around the world, you touched on this, the credibility issue. It will be heard by North Korea. It will be heard by China, by Iran, by Russia.

And you know, there will be a perception that when the President talks tough, those words are hollow.

JACOBSON: That's where it's dangerous because when it comes to our military operations, when it comes to life and death, when it comes to war or diplomatic relations with other countries they don't know that Donald Trump's going to stay true to his word. And I think that really undermines his ability to perform as president for the United States to execute our agenda across the country whether it's with our allies or with our adversaries. So I think it's a real problem for the Trump administration.

THOMAS: Trump's been more strong than Obama ever was in his presidency, dropping the mother of all bombs. He's been consistent. He said he was going to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, he did. I think he's largely consistent.

And in terms of showing force, I think foreign leaders and foreign terrorist-sponsoring nations fear Trump far more than they ever believed or worried about President Obama.

WALKER: But John -- don't you think that what President Trump did, I mean doubling down on this false claim, standing by it for six weeks, you know, and kind of you know, dangling this out there. Doesn't that damage the credibility of the presidency?

THOMAS: No, just terrible timing. I mean he should have done this earlier. I don't know exactly why he waited. Some say because there's congressional hearings that would demand that there's be a subpoena that he turn over whatever the White House has So he had to get rid of it now.

This is something -- look, President Trump's timing has never been great with this stuff. He should have done it early, there no fuss about that.

JACOBSON: The only thing I could just add, I think it undermines his justification when he blames all of these controversies on so-called fake news. I mean this is fake news that we're getting from the White House.

VAUSE: Ok. I kind of agree with David initially that I thought that Trump made this admission on Twitter as a diversion away from the Republicans revealing their, you know, their draft on health care reform, assurance act (ph) and but then I thought well, that may be giving the White House too much credit. But anyway -- so they released --

THOMAS: And it is.

VAUSE: Yes. We agree on that one.

Ok. Bottom line here is that it cuts health care, planning to lower bills of income earners, basically cuts Medicaid, give a large tax cut to the wealthy.

There is some provision here for financial assistance, those who can afford, you know, the ever-increasing cost of health insurance.

You know, John -- the President says that he wanted a healthcare bill that had more heart in it. But if you look through this it doesn't seem that a heart implants were actually covered by the Republicans.

THOMAS: Well, if it's heart you mean government subsidy, you're not. It's not. It doesn't have heart. What it does is shift a lot of responsibility from the federal side to the state side and allow states that know what their citizens need better than the Feds to make those important decisions.

WALKER: But four Republican Senators are saying that they're not on board. Here's what Rand Paul had to say.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I think the federal government shouldn't be giving any money to insurance companies. Insurance companies made $15 billion in profit last year. The new Republican bill will give them $110 billion to bring down prices. But to me that's sort of a ludicrous economic concept. That would be like telling America new cars cost too much so we're going to have a stabilization fund so your new car would cost less.


WALKER: So David Siders -- is this bill going to pass, especially with Mitch McConnell trying to get this vote out on Thursday?

SIDERS: I think it's too early to tell. And I think the big turning point for this and what we should be watching for isn't today but it's early next week when we get an analysis from the Congressional budget office. I think that will drive a lot of late rush negotiations into they, you know, middle and end of next week. And then we'll know.

VAUSE: What's interesting though is that the President told Fox News he believes he can win over these four Senators. Listen to this.


TRUMP: It certainly appears a very difficult situation if you look. The Clintons tried to get it and after years and years they couldn't do it. Obamacare was murder for them to get. And I would say (inaudible) is virtually out of business. Obamacare is a disaster. And we're trying to do something in a very short period of time.


VAUSE: The interesting thing is that Donald Trump is now describing these four senators as his very good friends -- this would be Ted Cruz and Rand Paul among them. Exactly, you know, Rand Paul with the funny moppy hair.

But John -- you know, is the president actually actively involved in trying to negotiate this?

THOMAS: He is. From what I hear he's going to help close this. They've delegated everyone else to McConnell but these last four, McConnell and the President are going to try to tag team them.

[00:10:02] You have to remember, they only need two. They don't need all four. And Ted Cruz, I saw CNN interview him today and he seemed open -- he was involved in the formation of that document. And he seems that he wants to get to yes. This isn't just an obstructionist play.

If they can get it done, I mean I think McConnell's feeling confident. He had a meeting later today on tax reform and how to drive that through. So I think they're looking after Georgia that maybe there's a little more win behind their sails that can drive their agenda.

JACOBSON: Here's the political calculus. There's somewhat of a political tug of war that's going to go on right now because Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are going to want to appease these sort of more conservative extreme Republicans but as you do that simultaneously, you've got to be cognizant of Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski -- pardon me, Rob Portman, Dean Heller, by the way. Rob Portman who's from Ohio, John Kasich of course, came out against this bill.

So I think you're going to have this dynamic with this tug of war where as you sort of appease these conservatives, you're going to lose some of those moderate votes on the other side of the aisle.

VAUSE: But the moderates are always (inaudible) -- don't they?

THOMAS: That's the question, right. Like a lot of these folks are --

JACOBSON: Wonderful question.

WALKER: What about Trump's base though -- John? I mean how do you see President Trump's going to get them on board, especially when we're talking about major cuts to Medicaid?

THOMAS: I think the proof will be in the pudding. If it doesn't lower their premiums, they're going to hang him. If they feel a measurable, like that they get to keep their doctor, that their premiums or their insurance providers have more options, I think they'll be with him. The reality is he has to get something done here. If he doesn't inaction is more dangerous than action here.

JACOBSON: I think it's a balancing act. I mean there is fresh polling that came out today by the Wall Street Journal and NBC that said 16 percent of Americans think the GOP -- it was the House bill, by the way -- is a good idea but simultaneously 41 percent say that they approve the Affordable Care Act, the Obamacare. So, I think they're going to have to ultimately live or die by whatever they pass, come '18.

VAUSE: You know, maybe there are recordings of the President's conversation with the FBI director James Comey but there is lots and lots tape of Donald Trump during the campaign talking about healthcare like this.


TRUMP: Save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts.

I'm not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.

You're going to end up with great healthcare for a fraction of the price.


VAUSE: So David Siders, is it a fair question to ask right now if the President ever intended to keep those campaign promises.

SIDERS: I think that that's a fair question. And I'm not sure that the voting public cares so much if he keeps those promises. I don't think that we're in same political era that we were say 20 years ago when it was maybe less common for a politician to get away with saying they were going to do something and then doing something else.

The President has made it his MO to say things and then to change direction and I think when that becomes your style and that's what the public becomes accustomed to that's less of a liability. So I think that there are liabilities with the healthcare bill for the President but I'm not sure that tape from the campaign is what that -- the biggest liability is.

WALKER: Fair point.

President Obama weighing in as well -- he posted something quite lengthy on Facebook but I want to read just a part of that statement. He said quote, "I recognize that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has become a core tenet of the Republican Party.

Still I hope there are senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what's really at stake and consider that the rationale for action on healthcare or any other issue must be something more than simply undoing something that the Democrats did."

David Siders -- will anyone in the Senate be listening to the former president?

SIDERS: I think that we'll hear from -- when will the Senate be listening would be later on this week and then next week. And I think that listening to the president is much less important than their districts. And these Republicans who whatever is in that bill -- John is right, they need to come out and have something done when they face the midterms next year.

And I think that that is really driving all of the discussion for them as we saw in the House negotiations earlier.

VAUSE: Ok. We've been saying it was such a big day for politics on Thursday. And then this happened.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right. Unfortunately you saw Sarah Huckabee-sanders walk up to the lectern there on the podium but the White House rules are that none of the cable networks, nor the broadcast networks are allowed to carry this briefing --


VAUSE: Ok. So for the second time in four days, cameras were banned from the White House briefing. Live forecast was also banned. CNN played it in its entirety when we got it turned around. And we should note that on Friday, the briefing will also be off camera with Sean Spicer.

But John -- there is a pattern here with the administration ducking the spotlight in the middle of a big story.

THOMAS: You know, I was wondering about this because we talked about it last time I was on. VAUSE: Yes.

[00:14:52] THOMAS: So I spoke to some friends in the administration. Their take is that they're doing anything they can to cool the temperature level of those briefings because for them it's -- they feel that they've lost control in terms of disseminating information and it's about the reality show and the gotcha moments. And anything they can do to cool the temperature and killing the video was one of those. I think that's an effective thing to do.

WALKER: Sean Spicer said, you know, he talked about why he things banning TV cameras was a good idea. He thinks it creates meaningful discussion. Take a listen to what he said on Laura Ingraham's radio show.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The nice thing about turning the cameras off sometimes and I find it's that when you -- when it is not performance art, as you call it, you end up having a more, I think sometimes a more substantive discussion act actual issues be they're not trying to get their clip. They're not trying to figure out how do I get on TV, how do I make -- ask some snarky question --

WALKER: David Siders, your reaction to what Sean Spicer had to say and how significant this move is by the White House.

SIDERS: It's interesting. I'm not sure that we hear from reporters that they feel that they're getting more substantive conversations with the White House given the recent black out or the recent sound out. And so I think that -- there's reason to question that. The White House reporters I don't think feel that way.

VAUSE: Dave -- there are comments being made that, you know, this is an erosion of you know, access to the White House, to the message. And it's a double-edged sword. You know, they cut the briefings down, they can't get their message out.

JACOBSON: One of the core pillars of our democracy is a free, open and transparent press. They ask the tough questions, they hold politicians' feet to the fire. That's what makes this democracy work and that's why we are a beacon for democracy -- you know, democratic republic for the rest of the world. These actions undermine our ability to function as an open and free country.

VAUSE: Ok. Very quickly, I want to show Johnny Depp who made some very controversial remarks at a film festival in the U.K. Listen to this.


JOHNNY DEPP, ACTOR: When was the last time an actor assassinated a president. I want to clarify, I'm not an actor.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Ok. So it was a reference to Abraham Lincoln who was shot by John Wilkes Booth. He was taking questions from the crowd. He got a big cheer for that one. But John -- a pretty stupid comment to make at any time, even more so days after Republican congressmen were --

THOMAS: And when Scalise is still in the hospital.

VAUSE: He came under fire from--


THOMAS: You know, it's so tone deaf. I think the only thing this -- I'm not surprised to hear this coming from Johnny Depp. I don't hold him really in high regard to begin with. But I'm surprised that the audience didn't boo him for something like that. That's what's disappointing to me.

VAUSE: Dave? JACOBSON: Whether or not you like Donald Trump, you hate Donald Trump -- that comment was flat out disgusting.


VAUSE: Final word David Spears? Siders -- sorry, David Siders?

SIDERS: I think I have to agree with your panelists. The remark was out of line.

VAUSE: Ok. And that is a good point where we leave. Thanks to all of you for coming in. We appreciate you being with us.

THOMAS: Thank you.

WALKER: We'll see you next hour.

All right, just ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, the city of London grapples with the aftermath of a tragedy while it looks to prevent another.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not staying around here now. This building, it doesn't have sprinklers or at least an alarm that worked. All you could hear that night was people screaming. That was it. There were people at windows up there who were just screaming the whole time.



WALKER: Welcome back -- everyone.

Iraq's prime minister says Mosul will be liberated from ISIS in the coming days. The militant group took control of the city back in 2014. Haider al-Abadi says this week's destruction of the 800-year-old al- Nuri mosque is an admission by ISIS that they are losing the fight for Mosul.

VAUSE: Both Iraqi and U.S. officials say ISIS blew up the mosque on Wednesday as Iraqi forces advanced on the old city. ISIS says the mosque was hit by U.S. war planes. But the U.S. and Iraq insist that claim just is not.

WALKER: British Prime Minister Theresa May is making a big offer in Brexit talks with E.U. officials. She says E.U. citizens can stay within U.K. borders after it leaves the bloc.

THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: What I'm going to be setting out today is clearly how the United Kingdom proposes to protect the rights of E.U. citizens living in the U.K. and see the rights of U.K. citizens living in Europe protected. That's been an important issue. We've wanted it to be one of the early issues that was considered in the negotiations. That is now the case. That work is starting.


VAUSE: The Prime Minister as well as several European officials meeting in Brussels to formally start negotiations but as that process gets under way, Theresa May is dealing with political turmoil and other challenges at home.

WALKER: And that includes last week's deadly apartment building fire in West London. It left dozens dead with many still missing. Investigators believe it may have been the building's siding or cladding that allowed the fire to spread so quickly.

VAUSE: Theresa May admitted the government did not do a good job responding to the disaster. But she says she's working to fix that now.


MAY: As a precaution, the government has arranged to test claddings in all relevant tower blocks. Mrs. Speaker, shortly before I came to the chamber, I was informed that a number of these tests have come back as combustible. The relevant local authorities and local fire services have been informed. And as I speak, they are taking all possible steps to ensure buildings are safe and to inform affected residents.


WALKER: But even if a similar fire never happens again, the question still remains why did it even happened once.

VAUSE: Our Nick Glass has this report and a warning. As you can imagine some of the images in this story are disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NICK GLASS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The image is absolutely indelible, a blackened monolith among the tower blocks -- a desolate burnt-out shell, a stump, an accusing finger. How and why did this terrible fire happen? Why, oh why were so many lives lost?

JOE DELANEY, WITNESS: I mean the speed of it and the ferocity of it was unreal. I've seen places and war zones, you know, being like hit with napalm or white phosphorus and things like that and I've never seen anything go like that. Within about three hours there was nothing left of that building, nothing at all.

GLASS: Joe Delaney lives just a few yards from the tower, witnessing the tragedy unfold that clearly traumatized him. The residents have long complained to the council about the likelihood of a catastrophic fire.

DELANEY: There's nothing around here now. This building -- it doesn't even have sprinkles or at least an alarm that worked. All you could hear that night was people screaming. There were people at windows up there, they were just screaming the whole time, you know, for to help them.

GLASS: As the flames spread, Delaney started filming on his mobile phone with disbelief and then growing horror.

DELANEY: I honestly don't -- it looks to me like it's only the outside. Oh my God. Oh Jesus, gosh. (inaudible). Oh my God.


GLASS: On the streets around the tower, we detected the palpable rawness of emotion, the sense of shared anguish. The place has become a memorial.

[00:25:01] In their desperation in the first few hours and days, relatives of the missing pin photos wherever they could. Jessica Urbano, age 12 was home alone on the 20th floor. She rang her mother who'd just begun her shift as a night cleaner. She apparently screamed mommy, mommy, come and get me. Then the line went dead.

A week after the fire, new photos were still going up but with all hope long gone this man was remembering his father.

One woman feared that she's lost six relatives including her mother and sister and three nieces who all lived on the 22nd floor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you want your family to be remembered?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Loved, memories, pictures and everything.

GLASS: Some 40 fire engines were called out on the night, some driven on this very same road. Like Joe Delaney, one fireman filmed on his mobile phone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a towering inferno.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How is that possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's jumped up all the way along the fourth floor.

GLASS: Firemen struggled for over 24 hours to put out the blaze.

The tower was built in 1974, then refurbished by the council just recently. There was new insulation and cladding on the outside. And a government inquiry will examine whether this was the reason the fire spread so quickly.

Some reports suggest it may have started in the kitchen on the fourth with the new exterior materials thought to have effectively turned the tower into a chimney.

Grenfell Tower is about half a mile away from Notting Hill in west London but a world away in terms of affluence. Some of the victims were among London's poorest, multi-racial, of many faiths; families among others of Iranian, Lebanese, Somali, Moroccan and Ethiopian descent.

There was a community, there still is but it's now numb with grief and clustered around a mausoleum.

The charred shell is being painstakingly searched flat by flat, floor by floor. There are many questions. The police are treating this as a crime scene.

Nick Glass, CNN -- by Grenfell Tower in West London.



[00:30:30] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm John Vause.

WALKER: And I'm Amara Walker. The headlines this hour.

The British government is testing hundreds of buildings across England to try to identify fire risk. They are trying to prevent another disaster like last week in London. Investigators think the flammable siding on the apartment building may have accelerated the fast spreading fire that killed dozens of people.

VAUSE: In the meantime, British Prime Minister Theresa May says EU citizens will be allowed to remain in the U.K. after the Brexit goes through in March 2019. She called the proposal a very serious offer as leaders met in Brussels for the first round of negotiations.

WALKER: U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday hailed a new Senate bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, but said it's going to require a little negotiation. The Senate bill written in secret closely mirrors a House bill passed last month. A Senate vote could come next week but passage is not certain.

VAUSE: It took the U.S. president 41 days to confirm what many had suspected all along, that his suggestion of secret recordings of his conversations with FBI director James Comey was a bluff.

And it was Comey who called Donald Trump's bluff earlier this month during his Senate testimony.


JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: I was so stunned by the conversation that I just took it in. And the only thing I could think to say because I was playing in my mind because I could remember every word he said -- I was playing in my mind what should my response be. And that's why I very carefully chose the words. Look, I've seen the tweet about tapes. Lordy, I hope there are tapes.


VAUSE: In a carefully worded statement with no typos or spelling mistakes, Mr. Trump tweeted "With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance intercepts unmasking 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."

But that statement raises even more questions and one of the legal implications now for a president being investigated for obstruction of justice.

Norm Eisen is a CNN contributor, former ethic czar in the Obama administration. He joins us now from Washington.

Good to see you, Nom.

NORM EISEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks for having me, John.

VAUSE: OK, one line in that statement from the president really seems to stand out and it's this, "I did not make and do not have any such recordings."

Norm, that's not exactly saying the tapes never existed, raises the possibility that someone else may have made the tapes.

EISEN: That's right, John, or that somebody else has them. And it also leaves open questions of whether they existed in the past of who may have some idea about this. It really raises as many or more questions as it answers.

VAUSE: So why include the wiggle room here.

EISEN: Well, this was not one of the president's spontaneous tweets while eating ice cream in his bathrobe at 3:00 a.m. This was a heavy lawyered tweet down to the complicated syntax of this two-part Twitter statement.

So he's attempting to get out from under. I think like every part of this Russia investigation, it's like the Matryoshka dolls. It's like the nesting dolls and you know now we're going to have to dig further and see what is what. VAUSE: Well, Congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee says the statement put out by the president does not mean the issue is over.

Listen to this.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The president's denial of these tapes raised a lot of question. If he didn't make tape recordings, then why did he essentially threaten James Comey that there might be tapes? Why did he keep the country waiting so long with this suggestion that he had made about the existence of tapes? I wish we could say that everything the president tweets is in fact true, but sadly have seen now on repeated occasions the president has tweeted things that are patently untrue.


VAUSE: OK. So when it comes to proving intimidation here, where is the legal onus? Is it on the intent of the president or the impacted head on Comey?

[00:35:00] EISEN: The primary question that the special counsel who's now handling the Russian investigation, former FBI Director Bob Mueller is going to have to assess is what was the intent of the president in putting this original tweet out about the tapes?

Was there an intent to harass or intimidate or block Jim Comey from testifying? It certainly had that flavor to it, John, that this was a shot across Comey's vow. But if we were only talking about this isolated tweet, probably would not be enough for an investigation.

But the original tweet did not happen in a vacuum, so how does this fit into the bigger picture?

EISEN: Well, I have always been of the view that the obstruction of justice case against the president is a pattern case. It starts with the president demanding loyalty from Jim Comey. Jim Comey declines. The case evolves with the president saying to Jim Comey I hope you can see your way clear to dropping the investigation against Mr. Flynn. Comey understood that as a demand. And when that demand was not met, Comey was fired. So there's an action on top of it.

This fits into that pattern the president is trying every which way from the totality of the evidence to stop this investigation. And the key question that Bob Mueller needs to answer under the obstruction statute is, was this a corrupt intent, was it a bad, wrong, or an evil intent or a legitimate one? I think there's a lot of evidence that it was improper.

VAUSE: Just very quickly, what you're saying here is that because the president has admitted this falsehood in a case of he said, he said -- you know, Trump versus Comey, then this tilts the scale in favor of Comey? EISEN: It does tilt the scale in favor of Comey in two ways. One, it's more evidence that the president is not honest. That he cannot be trusted. Two, it's more evidence of corrupt intent. Why lie if your intentions were pure? So I think it's additional harmful evidence against the president.

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) as always. Thank you so much. Good to see you.

EISEN: Thanks, John. Good to see you.

WALKER: And still to come on CNN NEWSROOM, changing the world once was just the beginning. How Mark Zuckerberg describes Facebook's new mission ahead.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: Today, a lot of society is divided, right? And so it's pretty clear that just giving people a voice and connecting people isn't enough. We also have to do work to help bring people closer together.



WALKER: Bill Cosby is not sitting still in the wake of his sexual assault trial, which ended last week in a mistrial.

VAUSE: His publicist say the comedian will hold a series of town hall meetings to educate people on what can be considered sexual assault and how to avoid it.


[00:40:00] ANDREW WYATT, COSBY PUBLICIST: We are now planning town halls. And we'll be coming to this city sometime in July.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really? Like a town hall just to talk with people.

WYATT: We're going to talk to young people, because this is bigger than Bill Cosby. You know, this issue can affect any young person, especially young athletes of today. And they need to know what they are facing when they are hanging out at parties. When they are doing certain things that they shouldn't be doing. And it also affects, you know, married men.


VAUSE: Cosby has been accused of sexual assault or misconduct by at least 50 women. He has been to trial only once.

WALKER: Mark Zuckerberg says his company won't just give people the power to share but to help build communities.

Here's some of what he said in this CNN exclusive. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZUCKERBERG: I used to think that if we just worked to give people a voice and help people connect that that was going to make the world all better by itself and I still think those are really important things to do and we're still going to do them.


ZUCKERBERG: But now I feel like we have a responsibility to do even more, all right, because, I mean, today a lot of society is divided, right, and so it's pretty clear that just giving people a voice and connecting people isn't enough. We also have to do work to bring people closer together.

So that's what the new mission is all about. It's bringing the world closer together. So not just simply connecting, but also helping to closing the gap.

SEGALL: So let me ask you how you -- how you do that because technology, to a degree, has always promised to help us discover and to help us learn. There's also the question of like does it make us more insular and is -- you know, is information being hijacked and spread? So as you make the future a Facebook peace community, how do you make sure they remain a place for authenticity and for real discourse?

ZUCKERBERG: People are connecting over something that they have in common. If you want to engage on issues that you disagree on, right -- so things that society is divided on, the first thing that you need to do is connect over your common humanity, right? And that could be something as simple as, you know, we both have families or we both like a T.V. show together. So bringing people together and creating these communities is, I think, a lot of what we can do help create more civil and productive debate on some of the bigger issues as well.


WALKER: And stay tuned to NEWSROOM L.A. for CNN's full exclusive interview with Mark Zuckerberg. That's coming up in about two hours. That's 7:00 A.M. in London, and viewers in Asia can catch it later at 8:00 p.m. in Hong Kong.

VAUSE: You have been watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

WALKER: And I'm Amara Walker. "World Sport" starts after the break.