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President Trump Acknowledges Russia Intervened In The Election; Obamacare More Like Than GOP Plan; Special Counsel Mueller Upgrades Legal Team For The Russia Probe; Trump Bluffs On Comey Tapes; Supreme Court Justice, Up For Retirement?; Supreme Court To Decide On Travel Ban; A New Air Force One To Be Built; Truck Explodes, 140 Die And More Than 100 Injured; London Buildings Fail Fire Safety; Aired 5- 6p ET
Aired June 25, 2017 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:00] (JOINED IN PROGRESS)
ANA CABRERA, CNN NEWSROOM SHOW HOST: -- a pro-Trump group released a new ad targeting Special Counsel Robert Mueller and members of his legal team who have donated to Democrats. The title, Witch hunt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: FBI Director Comey leaked information to the press, hoping to start an investigation. The ploy works and his good friend and former boss, Mueller, is chosen to direct it. Then, who does Mueller select to help lead the independent investigation? Four top lawyers, all major donors to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic National Party. Only in Washington could a rigged game like this be called independent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: I want to point out Special Counsel Robert Mueller is a registered Republican. The president also firing off this tweet that may be an effort to redirect attention from the Russia investigation, "Hillary Clinton colluded with the Democratic Party in order to beat crazy Bernie Sanders. Is she allowed to so collude? Unfair to Bernie." I want to bring in CNN White House correspondent Athena Jones. Athena, the president also addressed the Russia probe in a new interview taking a swipe at President Obama.
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He did. Hi, Ana. Let's go ahead and play what he had to say on "Fox & Friends" -- on Fox.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I just showed today for the first time that Obama knew about Russia a long time before the election, and he did nothing about it. But nobody wants to talk about that. To me, you know, in other words the question is if he had the information, why didn't he do something about it? He should have done something about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP) JONES: So there you hear the president sounding like he's acknowledging what U.S. intelligence agencies concluded months ago, that Russia did, in fact, meddle in the U.S. election in 2016 and then placing the blame squarely on President Obama. It's important to note that while critics of the Obama administration's handling of this entire matter believe that the administration didn't act strongly enough or swiftly enough or publicly enough, it isn't as though the Obama administration did nothing.
"The Washington post" includes a lot of details about the warnings that they gave in their report, including one as early as August by then Cia Director John Brennan to Russian intelligence. Then of course, President Obama's warning directed to Vladimir Putin in September on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in China. And then later in October, Susan Rice, the then national security adviser delivered a message to Putin once again through Ambassador Kislyak -- Ambassador Sergei Kislyak that we've been talking about so much.
And then of course in December we saw those sanctions, the 35 diplomats kicked out of the country, the two Russian compounds that were closed and economic sanctions imposed on various individuals. So, it isn't as thought the Obama administration did nothing, Ana.
CABRERA: All right, Athena Jones at the White House for us. Thank you. Let's get straight to our panel. Joining us, CNN political commentator and former Reagan White House official Jeffrey Lord, also CNN political analyst and "Washington Post" columnist Josh Rogin and White House correspondent for the "Washington Examiner" Sarah Westwood.
Jeffrey, President Trump says he "just found out Obama knew Russia was interfering before election day." but I want to play for you an exchange from that third presidential debate before the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have 17 -- 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyber attacks come from the highest levels of the Kremlin and they are designed to influence our election. I find that deeply disturbing. And I think it's --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Secretary --
CLINTON: -- time to that you take a stand because it's --
TRUMP: She has no idea whether it's Russia, China or anybody else. She has no idea.
CLINTON: I am not quoting myself. I am quoting 17 --
TRUMP: Hillary, you have no idea.
CLINTON: -- 17 intelligence -- do you doubt? Seventeen military and civilian --
TRUMP: Our country has no idea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Jeffrey, this was October. How can he say he just found out?
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, what he's saying there is it seemed very clear that Secretary Clinton had no idea who was doing what. That's all he was saying there. I mean that's a whole different thing than saying President Obama knew and he didn't do anything, which is also true.
I mean, the real problem here is that President Obama and Secretary Clinton established themselves as being essentially weak in dealing with the Russians. The Russians had contempt for both of them. And so when you think that President Obama feels that he's really doing something by saying, and I think I'm quoting directly here, cut it out to Vladamir Putin. I mean, Putin has got to be laughing himself silly to that kind of thing. He simply didn't take President Obama seriously.
CABRERA: OK. There has been criticism of President Obama's administration and the actions or inactions that happened following the intelligence briefing the president at the time, but it's easy to point the finger the other direction. What is President Trump doing right now to punish either punish Russia for what happened in the election. Or two, and more importantly perhaps make sure it doesn't happen again?
LORD: Yes, I do think that
[17:05:00] he's taking steps. I think he's got a commission appointed to start doing this, I think Mayor Giuliani is --
CABRERA: But that commission has nothing to do with Russia. That commission is taking a look at whether illegal immigrants voted in the election.
LORD: No, no, I think he's trying to take a look at cyber security in this country, which is very, very important. There's no question about that. And I think he is going to do something about it. But the bottom line here is, that "Washington Post" story confirmed there was no meltdown on Election Day. I mean, they didn't come in here to the lower precinct of East Pennsboro Township Cumberland County in central Pennsylvania and fool around with the voting machines. It simpply didn't happen.
CABRERA: Right. Sarah, in the book "The Art of the Deal," Trump writes "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." So President Trump keeps tweeting attacks at President Obama and going after Hillary Clinton. Is Trump going back to what gave him the greatest success making headline that won't do anything to advance his agenda but are sure to create controversy or attention?
SARAH WESTWOOD, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: I don't know that he's going back to it because he never really left it. This is something that he has carried on since he was a reality television personality, something that he has clung to throughout the beginning of his presidency. He has not found the line between embracing the intelligence communities' accepted findings that Russia interfered in the election in at least some capacity and rejecting the allegations that his campaign colluded with Russia.
Even Democrats have tried to conflate the two a little better, at least muddy the waters between those two things and so President Trump has just sort of rejected all of the Russia intrigue. But those are two very separate issues. And he has not found a way to thread the needle between acknowledging what sort of accepted fact in Washington, which is that Russia meddled, while still denying these so far unsubstantiated allegations that his campaign had anything to do with the Russian meddling.
CABRERA: Well, it was tweets this weekend seem to say that he now believes Russia did indeed meddle in the election. But Josh, isn't Trump just doing what all presidents elected us the agents of change do, blame the incumbent predecessor. I mean, we rarely heard President Obama speak about the economy without mentioning President Bush.
JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, yes, and that's sort of the hypocrisy of it. He criticized the Obama administration for not doing more and at the same time if they had done more, he would have criticized them for meddling in the election and adding politics to it and that's of course why they didn't more. So, there's nothing that the Obama administration could have done with regard to the Russian meddling that would have satisfied Trump.
He has sort of, you know, talked himself into a corner here. You know, a cyber security commission is just not going to cut it if they're now going to say that the Russian meddling was real and that Obama didn't do enough. Now, they're going to put their money where their mouth is. There's a bunch of sanctions coming from Congress. There is a potential Putin-Trump meeting coming up next month in Germany on the side --
CABRERA: The G20.
ROGIN: -- the G20. So, OK, the argument that he's being -- he's totally inconsistent. It just doesn't hold water, OK. He totally reversed himself. Now, is he going to stick to this new line that the Russians did interfere and we have to do something about it? Who knows? Who really knows? We'll have to wait and see.
CABRERA: Let's go to the health care for a moment. Jeffrey, the Senate's health care bill, which fail if three Republicans hold out and no Democrats across the aisle. Some of those leaning no are undecided and say they don't want to be rushed. If the plan is solid, why not let the senators go home, sell it to the constituents and then take the vote later?
LORD: Well, to borrow from President Trump, this is where you get into the art of the deal. And frankly, this has been going on in Washington since Washington, D.C. was invented. You get a vehicle though the House, you get a vehicle through the Senate, and then the negotiation really begins. So, that's what's going on here and I'm sure the president will be very heavily involved in it.
I myself wish that there were a little less secrecy on the Senate side and more hearings and et cetera, but I'm always encouraged when I hear people like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul and Mike Lee speak up on this issue. So, I'm sure that there will be negotiations forthcoming.
CABRERA: Let's take a look at the latest poll on health care. The Kaiser Foundation finding more Americans than ever view Obamacare favorably. Meanwhile, just 30 percent say they like the GOP's replacement plan. Should that worry Republicans, Jeffrey?
LORD: I'm sure it probably will worry Republicans. I'm not sure that it should but I think it will. And you know, what you got here --
CABRERA: You don't think it should worry them, why not?
LORD: -- way the health care -- I'm sorry, what?
CABRERA: If it shouldn't worry them, why not?
LORD: Well, it shouldn't worry about them because they should do their jobs and they should be able to sell their ideas on this to the American people. That's what leadership is,
[17:10:00] you know, as I always talk about President Reagan, he was magnificent at going on television and educating the American people about subject A, B or C or going after and giving speeches and making a pitch for his beliefs. That's what being an elected official is about and I would hope Republicans do that, because we've got a situation here where these -- Obamacare is imploding.
I mean, one insurance company after another is announcing they're leaving this, that, or the other state. And you're leaving people with no choices, no options. That's not good.
CABRERA: President Trump has been selling that message very consistently but he seems to sort of have one foot in, one foot out on the GOP's plans. In fact, today he admitted, he called the house health care bill mean. Do Republicans feel like President Trump is going to have their back if they're backlashed to this Senate bill, or do they think he's going to throw them under the bus, Sarah?
WESTWOOD: Certainly President Trump only got involved on the House side after the texts of the HHCA had been released publicly, then he started whipping numbers that sort of more or less what you saw on the Senate side although you did have HHS Secretary Tom Price and the vice president pretty involved behind the scenes in shaping that legislation. Now, President Trump seems ready to get involved in trying to convince members to get on board.
But again, this is a president that is ideologically flexible. He's not married to any one specific policy. He's really just interested in making a deal for the GOP health care bill. So, it's not clear that he has preference. He just wants to see the bill passed and he's facing more or less the same dilemma that Republicans in the House faced, which is that the coalition of Republicans opposed to this bill are so diverse. You have centrists like Dean Heller, then you have very conservative members like Ted Cruz. It's hard to see what sort of narrow path they'll walk to reconcile their objection.
CABRERA: Josh, smarter politically to try to jam the bill through before the break or to wait and have the vote after?
ROGIN: Yes, I think they're committed to doing it quickly because they know in the end the process doesn't really matter to most people. I mean, there'll be complaints from Democrats, but the point is to get it done and figure it out later. Now, the point that -- the downside as what you mentioned is that people around the country have no idea what's in this bill.
They haven't had it explained to them and that causes problems with his levels of support. But, you know, you can understand why Republicans are pushing this quickly, because if they can't, you know, get it done fast, then they probably won't get it done. And in the end, all the complaints on process will evaporate once the bill gets --
CABRERA: The idea of striking while the iron is hot. Jeffrey Lord, Josh Rogin, and Sarah Westwood, thanks to all of you. We appreciate it.
Coming up, the president says he wants a health care bill with heart. But Republicans have major concerns. Would they pass up a chance to repeal Obamacare? Republican Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania joins us after the break.
Plus, staffing up. Special Counsel Robert Mueller makes new additions to his team, including a man with a skill that could be crucial.
And they're going need a bigger boat. Incredible video here, shocking moments, as a humpback whale jumps from the ocean, giving some fisherman quite the scare.
[17:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CABRERA: Five days, 52 Republicans and one big question, can Mitch McConnell get it done? The Senate majority leader is hunting for the votes he'll need to push the Republican health care plan through the Senate and he wants a vote this week, before the 4th of July recess, giving members just a handful of days to dig through the 142 page bill, needed less time to consider it once the score from the Congressional Budget Office score comes out later this week.
Already the math is proving to be a problem. McConnell can only afford to lose two of his 52 Senate Republicans for the bill to pass, and so far, five GOP senators have come out vocally against it, arguing that it doesn't go far enough to repeal Obamacare, that if does lower premiums or that too many people will lose coverage.
And Republicans opposing the bill certainly we count those that are still undecided. For their part, Democrats have described the bill as mean, a word the president also used to describe the House version. And this morning, President Trump owned it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They actually used my term, mean. That was my term because I want to see -- and I speak from the heart. That's what I want to see. I want to see a bill with heart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: My next guest voted against the House version of the GOP health care bill and that may come as a surprise, because he is a Republican from Pennsylvania. Congressman Charlie Dent, thanks so much for joining us.
REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Thank you, Ana, for having me on the program.
CABRERA: Are you concerned about the Senate version of the bill as well? Republicans have been talking about repealing and replacing Obamacare we know for nearly a decade with majorities in both houses of congress and Trump in the White House, where do you feel your party got it wrong?
DENT: Well, Ana, I would say this. First, in 2010 and 2012, after Obamacare was initially passed, the mantra was repeal and replace. But after President Obama was re-elected in 2012, it became fairly obvious to me that the health care law, Obamacare would be (INAUDIBLE) in for another four years. It wouldn't be repealed during that time. So here we are and I think the reality is that parts of the health care law do need to be repealed, parts of it do need to be replaced, parts of it need to be repaired, reformed and overhauled, and other parts need to be retained.
And I think one of the challenges we face is that our bumper sticker slogan was never matched by the policy. So here we are all these years later and we got a little bit of a challenge. The senate bill, as I understand it is, you know, I'm still reading it. I want to see a CBO score but the bill is structurally
[17:20:00] similar to the House version. In some respects, it provides a little softer landing say on Medicaid. In other respects, it's a little harsher in terms of the CPI index. So, there are still some challenges with this legislation as I see it.
CABRERA: Now, it wasn't just repealing Obamacare that the president was promising. He had other promises regarding health care as well. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
TRUMP: Save Medicare, Medicaid, and social security without cuts.
I'm not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.
You could end up with great health care for a fraction of the price.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
CABRERA: So you heard him, no cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, cheaper health care. Are those promises less important than making sure Obamacare is repealed?
DENT: Well, that rhetoric certainly makes this task even more challenging. You know, as Republicans, I think we have to come to accept the fact that we have promised a replacement plan and we have to make sure our replacement plan does provided adequate coverage. And one of the reasons I voted against the House version of the health care bill was because there was simply too hard a landing on Medicaid, that the tax credits weren't sufficient to help people who would be transitioning off of Medicaid onto the exchanges.
And so the Senate is trying to put together a better bill. I'm still reviewing it. I'm anxious to see the CBO score to see what the coverage numbers will be and what the cost increase are projected to be as well. So I think there is still a bit of work to do here. I don't know that this bill could be considered as quickly as some would like to see it considered this week.
CABRERA: Well let's talk more about that because I know there has been criticism about how quickly Senator McConnell is rushing the process, trying to vote this week. Here is a colleague in the senate, Ron Johnson, one of those currently withholding his support for the bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSiN: I would like to delay the thing. There's no way we should be voting on this next week. No way. There's no way --
CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS SHOW HOST: Are you going to work to stop it? Are you going to work to stop the vote next week?
JOHNSON: I have a hard time believing Wisconsin constituents or even myself will have enough time to properly evaluate this for me to vote for motion proceed. So I've been encouraging leadership, the White House, anybody I can talk to for quite some time, let's not rush this process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So why rush the process? What's the risk of waiting to have the vote?
DENT: Well, first, I generally agree with Senator Johnson that we shouldn't rush this. Although at the end of the day, members of the Senate and the House of course will be judged more on the product than the process. And so I can't say I can speak to why this is being rushed.
I suspect that Senator McConnell, who is a very skillful legislator, you know, wants to get this issue off the agenda one way or the other, either successfully or unsuccessfully because I think many members, and I said this one of the criticisms I had the way we handle health care in the House, is that many of my colleagues saw health care reform as a speed bump on the road to tax reform because we kept talking about -- too much discussion about tax baselines, you know, making sure the baseline is low enough to do tax reform, instead of talking about how we're going to make sure people are adequately covered. And I think that made our debate in the House that much more difficult, and I feel certain except the same is true in the Senate.
CABRERA: What do you see as the blowback that GOP senator like Ron Johnson would face from President Trump, a Republican opposition if he does ultimately vote against the bill?
DENT: Look, I voted against the House version but at the end of the day, I'm accountable to the people of my constituents, the 15th Congressional District of Pennsylvania. They're the people who elect me. They're my bosses. You know, we don't work for the leadership.
Senator Johnson doesn't work for his leadership or for the president. He works for the people of Wisconsin, and I think that he's trying to do his best. I would hope he's doing his best to, you know, to try to reflect their interests. So at the end of the day, again, I am not worried about the blowback I get in Washington. I'm more worried about the blowback that I would get back here in Pennsylvania.
CABRERA: Did you ever hear from President Trump or someone in his administration after you voted no on the house bill?
DENT: Not afterwards, but before I sure did. I had meetings with the president, met with the vice president, met with Secretary Price.
CABRERA: What did he say to you?
DENT: Well, you know, I expressed to President Trump my concerns of the House version of the bill about the Medicaid expansion being rolled back, it was going to be too harsh. The tax credits not being sufficient. I told him too that I thought the Planned Parenthood piece should be taken out of the bill. I don't think that has anything to do with Obamacare.
And I also thought that maybe some of the revenues on higher income people be retained to help pay for our reforms. He took it pretty well the first time I said it -- the second time, third time well not so much. The point is I held my ground, but I understand their position. Although even the president now has
[17:25:00] acknowledged apparently based on those reports from the meeting with the senators a week or so ago that he thought the House bill was too harsh.
CABRERA: All right. Congressman Charlie Dent, we will leave it there. Thank you very much for your time tonight.
DENT: Thank you Ana for having me.
CABRERA: Up next, turning up the heat in the Russia probe. The special counsel adds new lawyers to his team including one with a certain knack for flipping witnesses. Should the White House be worried?
CABRERA: You're looking at the latest cover of "Time" magazine featuring Special Counsel Robert Mueller with the headline "The Lie Detector." Mueller has been expanding his staff for the investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. One of the latest additions to his investigative team, Andrew Weissmann, a long time federal prosecutor who led the Enron investigation, dozens of organized
[17:30:00] crime cases and has the reputation as someone particularly skilled at flipping witnesses.
So much to talk about as Mueller's team takes shape. Joining us now, CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Danny Cevallos and CNN law enforcement analyst and former FBI supervisor special agent James Gagliano. So Danny, what message does this latest addition to Mueller's team send the White House?
DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That they mean business. I mean, to some who are against this entire investigation, it might appear that this is a team that is staffed largely with those who are favorable to Democratic interests. But on the other hand, no matter how you look at it, this is simply a talented team that is going to get at the truth, you would think, based on their reputation and their career.
CABRERA: Jim, have you been asked to have someone like Weissmann who has this reputation for being able to convince witnesses to turn on their friends and their accomplices?
JAMES GAGLIANO, LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I agree. He's got a stellar reputation from his days in the Department of Justice. I think the team assembled is a good team. Unfortunately, I think what people on the outside see is they look at this from the optics perspective. In law enforcement, we tend to shy away from optics.
So, you can argue well, the Federal Election Commission has said they made these particular donations, and that's unsavory. But Director Mueller is a registered Republican and most people on the Hill I believe, believed that he is an impartial and unbiased prosecutor.
CABRERA: And he has served in both Democratic and Republican administrations. Your point though about the donations to Democratic campaigns, Danny, a former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer tweeted this saying, "I served with Mueller. I respect him and continue to believe in his integrity, but these hires are a mistake. He should have found apolitical staff." Does he have a point?
CEVALLOS: He does in the sense that this could be a staff that us perceived as having interests favorable to Democrats. But on the other hand, the rules regarding recusal and conflict of interest in the DOJ, they do call for recusal in cases where there are conflicts, personal relationships like family presumptively. But when it comes to friendships, it's a case by case basis. And in those instances, deference must be given to the personal opinion of the DOJ employee him or herself.
CABRERA: So you don't see there there?
CEVALLOS: Unless they believe it. Unless it's glaring, I don't think so. Again, the DOJ regulations call for a presumption in the case of family, but if it's a friendship, then you have to give the personal opinion, and I don't know if you're agreeing with me there, James, but you have to give the personal opinion, the subjective opinion is the word used to the individual DOJ employee.
So if those individuals think they cannot be apolitical. If they think they have a conflict of interest, then they have an obligation under the regulations, under the U.S. attorney's manual, to raise it with their superiors and run it up the flagpole. And if it is a conflict, it should be addressed.
CABRERA: And Mueller has not raised this, but the president has pointed to a friendship between Mueller and Comey, and he used the word "bothersome." He's talking about it in fact today on Fox. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He's very, very good friends with Comey, which is very bothersome. But he's also -- we're going have to see. I mean, we're going have to see in terms -- look, there has been no obstruction, there has been no collusion, there has been leaking by Comey.
But there's been no collusion, no obstruction, and virtually everybody agrees to that. Robert Mueller is an honorable man, and hopefully he'll come up with an honorable solution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: James, what's your reaction to the president even suggesting Mueller could be biased?
GAGLIANO: I agree with Danny. I mean, Danny lays it out on what the requirements for former director Mueller are. And former director Mueller and former director Comey were both colleagues at the Department of Justice. They do have a personal relationship. And wen I argued several weeks ago that I thought it was an improper appointment, not because of either man.
I believe both men are honorable and decent man. I trust both of them implicitly. They were the sixth and seventh FBI directors I served under for. They were the last two and they were decent men.
My argument is this, I counter the folks who'd say Robert Mueller is not the judge. He's the prosecutor and prosecutors across the country have relationships with the police who are often the witnesses or the folks bringing them the evidence --
CEVALLOS: You're right.
GAGLIANO: -- that's what this is. I'm troubled because I look at this and say, of all the special prosecutors you could have chosen in this situation where your key and central figure in the investigation is an FBI director who has a close and personal and Ana, he used the term familial but it really is relationship with him. I just think that from the outside, folks are going to look at this and thinks it's (INAUDIBLE) impropriety and think the fix is in.
CEVALLOS: I agree with James because you can't perfectly analogize
[17:35:00] this to a prosecutor in a trial situation because he's actually right. U.S. attorneys routinely are friendly with the special agents and the case agents that are helping them prosecute the case and will ultimately be the friendliest of witnesses on the stand. But this is a very different situation. It's not exactly the same. This is an investigation, and a political investigation. And the appearance of a conflict sometimes, oftentimes under the regulations can be enough.
CABRERA: And it could give reason for people to question the outcome of the investigation which is a big problem, but we'll have to wait and see where the trail leads. Guys, thank you both, Danny and James. Nice to see you both.
Coming up, the tale of the tapes. Forty-one days after hinting he had recordings of his conversations with fired FBI Director James Comey, the president finally admits he was bluffing. But he says that move, in his words, wasn't very stupid.
[17:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CABRERA: It began with a thinly veiled threat. And now after more than a month of non-answers or half-answers, we know the truth. The president is bluffing. He has no recordings of his conversations with now fired FBI Director James Comey and the president is offering no apology.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: My story didn't change. My story was always a straight story. My story was always the truth. But you'll have to determine for yourself whether or not his story changed. But I did not tape.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a smart way to make sure he stayed honest in those hearings.
TRUMP: Well, it wasn't very stupid, I can tell you that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: CNN's Gary Tuchman brings us the now debunked tale of the tape.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When President Trump sent out the tweet saying, "James Comey better hope that there are no tapes of our conversations, he could have sent out another tweet a minute later correcting the record. Instead, he waited over 59,000 minutes, 41 days, nearly six weeks to declare, "I did not make and do not have any such recordings." The president was asked early on about his claims.
TRUMP: That I can't talk about. I won't talk about that. All I want is for Comey to be honest and I hope he will be. And I'm sure he will be, I hope.
TUCHMAN: No elaboration from the president why couldn't or wouldn't talk about it. And then weeks later in the Rose Garden --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do tapes exist of your conversations with him?
TRUMP: Well, I'll tell you about that maybe sometime in the very near future. You're going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer. Don't worry.
TUCHMAN: Not clear what the president meant by his disappointment comment. His staff also did nothing to clear up the matter. This from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on the day of the original tweet.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I assume you're referring to the tweet and I've talked to the president. The president has nothing further to add on that.
TUCHMAN: This from three days later.
SPICER: I made it clear last week that the president has nothing further on that. I've answered the question over and over again in the same light.
TUCHMAN: And this from deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders this month.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could you try to find out? A lot of people are interested as you might imagine.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Sure, I'll try to look under the couches.
TUCHMAN: When James Comey testified before Congress, he tried to emphasize his own credibility by saying --
JAMES COMEY, FOMER FBI DIRECTOR: Lordy, I hope there are tapes.
TUCHMAN: But Lordy, it now appears there are not. Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta.
CABRERA: Coming up, Supreme Court suspense. Retirement rumors swirl around Justice Anthony Kennedy and whether a big announcement will come as early as tomorrow. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom."
[17:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CABRERA: Will he or won't he? Retirement rumors are swirling this weekend around 80-year-old Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy and whether he could make a big announcement tomorrow at the court's last scheduled public session before they break for the summer. This would be major. Kennedy has built a legacy as the court's critical swing vote in cases that cemented same-sex marriage to abortion rights, and his departure would setup a seismic shift giving President Trump his second shot at reshaping the court with someone who tilts further right. Joining us now is CNN Supreme Court reporter Ariane De Vogue. Ariane, helping drive the speculation of course, is that Kennedy held this reunion with dozens of his former clerks this weekend, what are you hearing?
ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Ana, you're right, all eyes are on Justice Anthony Kennedy --
DE VOGUE: -- seriously considering retirement.
DE VOGUE: -- and know if it would come as early as this term. And you're right, he had that reunion last night, but the people there said he didn't really address the speculation one way or the other. This would be a big change for the court and the country. He is that critical swing vote.
He's voted with the liberals on affirmative action, abortion access, but then he's voted with conservatives on gun rights, Bush v. Gore. If Trump were to get this second vacancy, he would have the opportunity, Ana, to replace a centrist with a conservative. And that would really solidify the conservative base on this court, really for decades to come. So, it's really pretty critical.
CABRERA: And do you know where his head is in terms of retirement? Why would he retire now versus sticking around?
DE VOGUE: Well on one side, right, he's 80 years old. He has been on the court for so long. He really has his established legacy. He might want to spend more time with his grandchildren, retire now, but other people say he knows his role on this court. He knows how important it is.
Maybe he would want to spend another year with his former clerk, Neil Gorsuch. Maybe he'd even wait until the political climate right now simmers down a little bit. So those are all things that could be in his head as he works to make the decision.
CABRERA: Now, Kennedy suspense aside, this week is also important because we could see the Supreme Court take action on a couple of big cases. Give us the quick rundown.
DE VOGUE: Right, well, tomorrow is the last opinion day and we're expecting an important case on religious liberty that's an issue that often divides the justices so we'll see how close they are on that. Of course, everybody is waiting for the travel ban. The administration, as you know, is blocked by the lower court, and the administration has gone to the Supreme Court and asked for two things. They want it to be allowed to go into effect immediately and they want the Supreme Court to hear arguments in the fall. So, we could again hear as early as tomorrow whether there is action on that travel ban.
CABRERA: All right, Ariane De Vogue, we'll be watching. That's a good one. Thank you. About 30 minutes outside of Seattle, there is a Boeing factory where a new
[17:50:00] Air Force One will be built for President Trump. One thing that's pretty cool, you can see it all happening in person. CNN Money takes us inside.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This summer, a record 234 million people will travel on an airplane. So why not fly to a destination where you can learn about that plane you might have just flown in on? This is the Boeing factory just 30 minutes outside of Seattle in Everett where almost every Boeing airplane is made. And it's open to the public.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why almost 60 years ago did you allow the public to see what you were doing here?
ZACK MEENIE, TOUR OPERATIONS LEAD, BOEING: Well, they started coming on their own. Where we're standing right now is actually woods and then we needed to build our planes right next to the runway and there is talks and rumors of the biggest thing in the world were being built inside and people got curious. And with that, maybe we should guide these people around so they're saving their own.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, Boeing produces one airplane a day, and you can see 50 of them being built in every stage at one time before they get sent to airlines all over the world.
MEENIE: Right now, if you wanted a 787, I couldn't give it to you until the year 2021. Over a 1,000 planes are on backlog.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These planes can cost more than $300 million, but the most expensive is yet to be built here.
MEENIE: When we see the president land on Air Force One, that plane came out of here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I know that you guys are in the process of building a new Air Force One. Is that happening here?
MEENIE: Yes. We're not currently building at this time. We are still working on designs. But once those are finalized and we do start producing them, that will happen in this factory.
CABRERA: Coming up, picture this. You are out on a fishing trip and suddenly this happens. A groups remarkable close call with a humpback whale.
[17:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) CABRERA: At least 140 people are dead after a fiery blast in eastern Pakistan. They were attempting to collect leaking fuel from a crashed oil tanker when the explosion happened. Now, just moments before this, the truck had veered off the road when the driver lost control. One villager told a CNN affiliate there that the truck's driver had warned people to stay away from the truck, but they began gathering around it anyway. And in addition to those 140 killed more than 100 people were wounded.
More troubling news in the wake of that high rise fire that killed at least 79 people in London, 60 other buildings in the U.K. have failed fire safety tests conducted after that tragedy at the Grenfell Tower. A government spokesman tells CNN so far, every building tested has failed the test on fire resistant cladding. Six-hundred buildings across Britain are now being looked after they were identified as having potentially dangerous exteriors. Friday, some 4,000 people were forced to evacuate their north London homes after fire officials determined they were unsafe.
Now, imagine this, you're on a plane flying over the Indian Ocean from Australia to Malaysia when all of a sudden this happens.
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CABRERA: The Air Asia X Jet began shaking violently about an hour into the flight. Passengers comparing it to a washing machine, and it continued like that for two hours. The pilot even urged them to pray. Some passengers managed to put on a brave face during this terrifying ordeal, which an airport spokesman now blames on an engine issue. The plane did fortunately returned to Australia safely.
And terrified on lookers at "Six Flags Great Escape" in New York took quick action last night as a 14-year-old girl somehow slipped out of a car on the sky ride, now she dangled helplessly 25 feet off the ground. People in the crowd decided to try to catch her. Watch.
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CABRERA: Cheers, she made it down, but she did hit a tree on the way down. She was treated by park emergency medical personnel and then taken to the hospital on that last check. She was listed in stable condition with no serious injuries. Also, a 47-year-old man was treated for a back injury as he attempted to catch that falling girl. The ride was later inspected and everything as it turns out was in proper working order. Well, this maybe the video of the day, a New Jersey man has a whale of
fishing tale. Take a look at what he caught on video, a humpback whale breeching the waters off New York harbor nearly capsizing the 9-foot fishing boat alongside it as it leapt out of the water. And when you slowdown the video, you cans see this whale actually open its massive jaws in a hunt for food. The fisherman say the whale was chasing fish near their vessel and when it jumped out of the water, tapping their haul, it actually knocked some of the fish into their boat.
You're in the "CNN Newsroom." Great to have you with us on this Sunday. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. It's crunch time now for GOP's Senate health leaders on Capitol Hill as they try to rally the votes needed to get their health care plan passed. The Senate could vote as early as Thursday on a new bill aimed at cutting parts of Obamacare. And we just learned President Trump is working the phones. He's trying to convince
[18:00:00] reluctant senators to change their minds and support the new bill. The White House says Trump spoke with Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, two of the five Republicans senators who say they oppose the bill in its current form. Three more say they have concerns.