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Historic Summit in South Korea; Supreme Court Hears Travel Ban; Comey at CNN Town Hall. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired April 26, 2018 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[06:30:57] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: So, here's something. Kim Jong-un is about to become the first North Korean leader to cross into the South since 1953. When he arrives in the southern DMZ in a matter of hours, he's going to sit down with an historic summit with South Korea's president.
CNN's Paula Hancocks live near the Korean Demilitarized Zone with more.
Paula, what do we understand on two levels? One, what this mean for the North and the South, and, two, what this mean for the U.S. involvement with both?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, the main question that the South Koreans want answered on behalf of the Americans as well is, what exactly does denuclearization mean to Kim Jong-un? That is going to be the crucial question that Moon Jae-in is going to be asking him.
Now, 8:30 p.m. Eastern tonight, we are going to see the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, walking to the MDL, the Military Demarcation Line, and meeting with the South Korean President Moon Jae-in. He will step over a lip of concrete, which is the actual borderer between North and South, and he will then be welcomed by South Korean traditional guards from the navy, the air force. And he will then have an official welcoming ceremony, signing the guest book, all that sort of stuff.
But then they get to the actual summit, the hard work, to find out if North Korea truly believes that denuclearization means complete verifiable, irreversible denuclearization as the Americans and the South Koreans believe. I have yet to meet an analyst or an expert on North Korea who truly believes that Kim Jong-un is going to give up all of his nuclear weapons.
Now, later in the afternoon, they'll plant a tree together. They'll have soil from North and South Korea. They'll be watering it from water from North and South Korea. Truly symbolic. But, of course, the devil is in the detail. And by the end of the day, we should have some kind of signed agreement, possibly announcements from the two leaders. We're hearing from the blue (ph) house it simply depends on how the two leaders feel that it went as to whether they want to speak publicly about it.
Alisyn, back to you.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Paula. And, of course, we'll have full coverage of this tomorrow on NEW DAY. Thank you very much for setting all of that up for us.
Meanwhile, back here, the Senate is poised to confirm CIA Director Mike Pompeo as the new secretary of state. Senators will hold a vote ending debate today, followed by a final vote. Pompeo does have enough support to be confirmed with every Republican senator and at least four Democratic senators saying they will back him.
CUOMO: All right, the president's travel ban, remember that, Trump and co kept saying it wasn't discriminatory against Muslims and courts keep saying they're wrong. Well, now we have the big, legal moment. That ban is in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court. And we already have some pretty decent clues about which way the justices appear to be leaning. Answers, next.
[06:37:32] CAMEROTA: So, several Supreme Court justices yesterday appeared to side with the Trump administration on the president's travel ban. The question is whether President Trump's anti-Muslim statements on the campaign trail should be considered.
So joining us now is CNN's Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic. She was in court during the arguments.
Joan, great to have you here --
JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Thanks.
CAMEROTA: As our fly on the wall for the Supreme Court.
Let's listen to a couple of snippets of audio from a couple of the justices that give us clues, we think, as to how they're leaning.
So the first is from Justice Samuel Alito. Listen to his question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTICE SAMUEL ALITO, SUPREME COURT: I think there are 50 predominantly Muslim countries in the world. Five of -- five countries -- five predominantly Muslim countries are on this list. The population of the predominantly Muslim countries on this list make up about 8 percent of the world's Muslim population. If you looked at the 10 countries with the most Muslims, exactly one, Iran, would be on that list of the top ten. So would a reasonable observer think this was a Muslim ban?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Joan, what did that tell us about how he's leaning? BISKUPIC: Well, I'll tell you, Samuel Alito was going to be going in
that direction for sure. He's -- he's very strong in terms of, you know, favoring President Trump's initiatives. And I think we were going into this hearing believing that he would -- he would certainly be a vote for it. Last December, you might remember, that the court voted 7-2 to let it take effect. And he was in the majority.
The people we were watching were Justice Kennedy, who, as you know well, is always in the middle of these things. And even some on of the more liberal members who might be open to this only because they were among those who voted to let it take effect in December. And that would be Justice Elena Kagan and Justice Stephen Breyer.
But just to address Justice Kennedy, for example, since that's kind of our -- our real measure of where the court might go, he asked scrutinizing questions of both sides. But I would say, overall, seemed more sympathetic to the president's position. Right now, just so you know, they will vote on Friday in their private conference, and we will not see the ruling until June. And much can happen behind the scenes during that time.
But I would say, Alisyn, that at this point it looks like President Trump has a majority. I don't believe that we will see the kinds of tweets that we saw after the lower courts earlier ruling saying, you know, the so-called judge or that ruling was ridiculous.
[06:40:15] BISKUPIC: I have a feeling he's going to like this one.
CAMEROTA: Yes. That would be unwise for him to be tweeting right now about this.
But let's listen -- let's contrast what we just heard from Alito with Justice Elena Kagan --
CAMEROTA: And the questions and points. She actually drew an analogy. So let's listen to that.
BISKUPIC: OK. Great.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTICE ELENA KAGAN, SUPREME COURT: Let's say in some future time a president gets elected who is a vehement anti-Semite. What emerges, and, again, in the context of his virulent anti-Semitism, what emerges is a proclamation that says no one shall enter from Israel. This is an out of the box kind of president in my hypothetical.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: What does that tell us, Joan?
BISKUPIC: You know, she then did was she then transitioned and made that hypothetical about someone who might be, you know, anti-Muslin.
But what the lawyer representing the government said was that in individual circumstances, if people can demonstrate individual discrimination based on religion, they might have a claim. But he said specifically to Elena Kagan's question, you know, talking about an outright ban, if a candidate had said those kinds of remarks, had been, you know -- said the anti-Israel kind of remarks during the campaign and then became a president after taking an oath, he really stressed the oath being a marker. You can't -- you can't think about candidates.
His bottom line message was, don't think of private citizen Donald Trump, for example, think of President Trump who has taken an oath who now may be standing for something different. He tried to -- he encouraged Elena Kagan and the other justices to draw a line between statements that might have been said during a campaign and then afterward. But then more broadly talked about, if some individual actually could claim discrimination, that person could probably appeal and get an exemption to the ban. She was quite -- she was quite firm with that hypothetical and others picked up on it.
CAMEROTA: Yes. Well, but that's an interesting argument that the lawyer was making against that hypothetical. But we shall see what happens in June.
Joan Biskupic, thank you very much.
BISKUPIC: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right, James Comey had a tough night at the CNN town hall. He rejected the president's claim that releasing his memos were illegal, that that was an illegal act. We have highlights of the tough questions that came from you, citizens, there in attendance at William and Mary, next.
[06:46:29] CAMEROTA: James Comey facing tough questions at a CNN town hall last night. The fired FBI director clashing at times with Anderson Cooper and defending the release of his memos on his interactions with President Trump. Comey rejecting President Trump's claim that he broke the law.
CNN's Sara Murray is live in Washington with more.
So how did it go, Sara?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the former FBI director was at his alma mater at William and Mary as he was fielding questions from students and faculty, and he insists that he wants to see President Trump succeed. But he offered a pretty devastating view about whether Trump is fit to be in the Oval Office.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: But I don't believe he's morally fit to be president of the United States.
MURRAY (voice over): Fired FBI Director James Comey reiterating his scathing criticism of President Trump.
COMEY: His only reference point is internal. What will bring me what I need? What will fill this hole in me, get me the affirmation I crave? And that's deep concerning.
MURRAY: Comey defending his decision to ask a friend to release details of one of his memos, memorializing conversations with the president, to the media.
EVELYN LAWHORN, STUDENT, WILLIAM & MARY: Do you think that there's any credence to the president's claims that you broke the law when you released your memos?
COMEY: I don't. That won't surprise you. I don't. In fact, I think he's just making stuff up.
ANDERSON COOPER, MODERATOR: If you tell somebody, don't give them the document, but tell them what's in the document, that's still a leak, no?
COMEY: Well, not to get tangled up in it. I think of a leak as an unauthorized disclosure of classified information.
COOPER: Really? That's it? That's a leak?
COMEY: I -- that's -- that's how I thought about it as FBI director.
COOPER: I'm surprised that you only think leaks -- officially a leak is something that's classified.
COMEY: I intentionally gave this information to a friend, intending that it be out in the media. I wanted it to get in the media.
COMEY: As a private citizen, I could do that and did that.
MURRAY: Comey also defending his decision to announce days before the 2016 election that the FBI was reopening its probe into Hillary Clinton.
COMEY: You can't conceal a material -- a huge change in facts from the American people when you've told them the opposite. So as between bad and catastrophic, no matter where the polls are, you're always going to have to choose bad.
MURRAY: The former FBI director addressing new reporting related to the so-called Russia dossier that shows Trump stayed in Moscow in 2013 despite allegedly denying to Comey that he stayed overnight.
COMEY: It's always significant when someone lies to you, especially about something you're not asking about. It tends to reflect a consciousness of guilt.
MURRAY: The former Republican revealing he's embarrassed the GOP hasn't done more to challenge the president's behavior?
COMEY: Where is that commitment to character and values? And if -- if people have convinced themselves, well, we'll trade it temporarily for a tax cut or a Supreme Court justice, as I say in the book, that's a fool's bargain because those values are all that you have.
MURRAY: Comey, who President Trump has repeatedly called "slippery" and a "slime ball," choosing not to return fire.
COMEY: I don't have a nickname for him. Honestly, I call him the president on the United States, because I respect the office. We should root for our president. That also doesn't mean we should fail to hold him accountable, especially when he threatens our core values.
MURRAY: Now, the White House is not buying into Comey's line that he is neither a liar nor a leaker. Kellyanne Conway was on CNN last night insisting that Comey does leak and casting him as little more than a disgruntled ex-employee. Also insisting that Comey has a causal relationship with the truth. Something you could also say of President Donald Trump.
CUOMO: Yes, yes, yes.
Sara Murray, thank you very much.
All right, let's discuss how it went for Comey last night with law enforcement analyst Josh Campbell, former special assistant to James Comey at the FBI.
[06:50:04] Good to see you. Thank you for the quick turnaround after last night.
We're talking about what Kellyanne Conway said in her defense of the White House and the president. Let's play some of it and then we'll get after it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: I get why you think that.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: This somebody who you know is leaking, you know has had a very casual relationship with the truth at times.
CUOMO: All right.
CONWAY: You know has been asking people to leak. Has been -- wanted to trigger a special counsel. Was absolutely fine with everything Donald Trump as president it seems. Loved to be in the Oval, loved to be in power, loved to have dinner with him, until he got fired.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: I was nudging in there at the end because we were out of time and she wasn't answering the actual question that I had asked, but that was a good summary of the case against Comey.
So, what do you make of that case against your former boss?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, look, Kellyanne Conway is an impossible situation. And that is someone who has to go out and defend the indefensible essentially.
Now, you know, this isn't personal, this isn't political, but it's an observation. And it doesn't take a former FBI agent to selectively, you know, look at statements that are made and determine that this is a person who has a puzzling relationship with facts.
And I'm not going to engage in what they do where they tit for tat without giving you facts. So let me go through some of what she said.
The first which being, when she said that Jim Comey wanted Hillary Clinton to be elected president. She told you that last night, you know, during this interview. And I think that Democrats across the country were clutching their chest and probably, you know, yelling at the screen because a lot of them feel slighted by some of the investigative decisions that were made.
Secondly, you know, this cloud, this, you know, kind of negative cloud that they've put over this person, you know, Richmond (ph), who, you know, she says is Comey's friend, who I don't -- I don't know, by the way --
CUOMO: So Kellyanne says that the man that Jim Comey gave the memos, e-mails, word documents to, whatever you want to call them to leak to the press was an FBI employee and was part of the Clinton probe. And that's not something that Comey disclosed. Is that true?
CAMPBELL: I don't know. But she said that about six, eight different ways, but she never answered the question, what does it mean? And I really mean, what does it mean? As we hear this over and over, it's an -- it's an accusation, I guess. I don't know if they're just, you know, making an observation. But what does that mean? That's what I don't understand. So I hope we understand that.
The issue that we have here is that, you know, people can disagree with Jim Comey's decisions, right? You look back at the -- from 2016 up until the election and then beyond that and say, look, I disagree with x, I disagree with y. Even as someone who was on his staff, I didn't agree with everything he did, nor did anyone that surrounded him. But for those who go out and try to attack his character, like she's doing, she's calling him a liar, which that's a very interesting observation to have her call -- you know, to lob that accusation against someone and to say he's a leaker, you know, it's just puzzling. And you see what happens. It's kind of -- OK, and, again, it doesn't
take an FBI agent to notice this, that she'll take the last two words of what she says in response to your question and then quickly pivot over to something that she's more comfortable talking about --
CAMPBELL: Without actually answering the question, which, you know, is OK if you're in politics. But if you're going to make accusations against people, it's a really unfair thing to do.
For example, to call him a leaker, this investigation that is going on right now, this inspector general investigation, which it should. They're going to get to the bottom and determine, did Jim Comey violate policy. It's interesting to note last night he mentioned that the IG isn't looking into mishandling classified information. And so, you know, she says he's a leaker while the investigation is going on. And then, almost in the same breath, shortly thereafter, you know, when you're asking about the V.A. secretary, she's saying, look, this is a -- this is being looked into. We shouldn't come to any conclusions.
CUOMO: Right. It's called having it both ways.
CAMPBELL: That's right.
CUOMO: But Comey put himself in this position, one, with his controversial moves with Hillary Clinton. I don't know how you can argue that that didn't hurt Hillary Clinton. I thought that was one of the weaker points that Kellyanne tried to get past us last night. But he says he's not a leaker. He's a leaker. He leaked the information. Was it confidential? Was it unauthorized? Those are separate issues. But when you take something, right, that is arguably not yours to take, normally, that's not the case with Comey because he was the ultimate arbiter of what's classified and isn't. But when you take something like that and you secrete it to the media, that's a leak.
CAMPBELL: I would disagree with that.
CAMPBELL: I mean with -- because within the --
CUOMO: What else would meet the definition?
CAMPBELL: Well, because within the FBI and within law enforcement and the system of justice --
CAMPBELL: The term leak has a very specific definition --
CUOMO: I know, but that's parsing. That's parsing it.
CAMPBELL: Well, but you're -- there's two different businesses. He's not in law enforcement (INAUDIBLE) press. CUOMO: But that's about law enforcement. He put himself in another business. When he decided, as a private citizen, as he points out, Josh, to leak this, and he did it through a third party, that is a bad fact for James Comey.
CAMPBELL: Well --
CUOMO: He should have done it himself if it was so clean and honest.
CAMPBELL: Well, that's the thing, I mean can we stipulate, for example -- for just a moment that -- get the word "leak" off the table and just talk about releasing information, which I think is fair and that's what the IG's going to look into.
CUOMO: No, I will not stipulate (INAUDIBLE).
CAMPBELL: OK, that's fine.
CUOMO: But you can make that case.
CAMPBELL: I'll make that case nonetheless.
But when you say the word "leak," I mean, obviously, there's this cloud, this orra (ph) that, OK, you have this very secret, sensitive information that (INAUDIBLE) share.
CUOMO: Why use a third party?
CAMPBELL: I don't know. But at the end of the day --
CUOMO: No, no, you can't say, I don't know. Just think about it for a second.
CAMPBELL: But what does it matter, Chris. If the information is getting out there -- if his goal is to get it out there --
CUOMO: It matters because it shows --
CUOMO: And here's my -- here's my -- here's my counter.
CUOMO: It shows intent to be secretive.
CUOMO: And if this was so simple and open and clean, you don't use a third party.
CAMPBELL: Well, I mean, that's fair. I think what his argument was in -- during the congressional hearing, he said that, you know, he had press that were camped outside his door, so he didn't want to create a feeding frenzy. Again, I'm not -- I' not defending his actions. The IG is going to
look into that and they're going to determine whether this was something that fell within policy or not. That is indisputable. But this attack on him as a person, the character, the leaker, the liar, the slime ball, that's got to stop.
[06:55:12] CUOMO: We have another expression in the media other than just leaking, consider the source. When Kellyanne Conway or the president of the United States are saying that James Comey isn't truthful, people are going to look at who's saying that and that will affect the measure as well.
Always a pleasure.
CAMPBELL: My pleasure.
CUOMO: Your insight is invaluable.
CAMEROTA: OK, so what is the status of Dr. Ronny Jackson's nomination for VA secretary after these new allegations of misconduct have surfaced? We have all of the latest for you, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: The president said I stand behind him if he wants to stay. I certainly understand if Dr. Jackson looks up and says, what do I need this for.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the allegations are true, then I think that his nomination should be withdrawn.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: There's been a history here of people coming to The Hill not very well vetted.
CUOMO: Michael Cohen asserting his Fifth Amendment rights in the Stormy Daniels hush money case.
[07:00:03] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you have your staff taking the Fifth Amendment, I think it's disgraceful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When it fits his defense, he will go to it. When it fits somebody else's defense, he will go on the attack.