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WH Aide on McCain Opposition to Hapsel as Next CIA Chief: "He's Dying Anyway"; Pence Tells Mueller "It's Time to Wrap It Up"; President Trump will Meet Kim Jong-un in Singapore June 12; One of the Toughest Jobs in Washington. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 10, 2018 - 21:00   ET



[21:01:25] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: As the President speaks in the heartland, news of a heartless comment from someone on the White House staff about an American hero who is battling brain cancer.

On the table tonight, attacking McCain, a horrible quote describes a joke about Senator John McCain from someone inside the White House.

Wrap it up, that's what the Vice President suggestion to the Special Counsel saying the Mueller investigation has gone on long enough. And credit where credit is due from nick names throwing back and forth to an upcoming summit, what's at stake and who gets the credit.

We begin this hour in Elkhart, Indiana where the President and Vice President just finished up speaking tonight. Our Jim Acosta is there, he joins us now.

Jim, what more are you learning about these comments that were said about Senator John McCain?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, just when you think we hit rod bottom in politics so we find ways to find new lows, and that's what happened earlier today. Kelly Sadler, who is a White House aide in charge of surrogate communications, was at a communications staff meeting with other White House staffers this morning, and the discussion came up about Gina Haspel, the President's pick for the CIA.

And also coming up at that meeting was Senator McCain's opposition to Gina Haspel. As we know John McCain was tortured when he was a POW in Vietnam and has essentially said he doesn't want to support Gina Haspel's nomination because of that reason, because of her past involvement in torture at the CIA.

And according to a source who has confirmed it to CNN at this meeting. Sadler said to the other staffers, well, McCain's opposition doesn't matter, because he's going to die anyway.

Now, according to a White House official I spoke to about this John, this was supposed to be a joke, it was intended as a joke, but nobody laughed, I'm told and that the joke fell flat in the room, obviously this is just one in a string of comments from this White House, aimed at John McCain.

Most of the negative comments coming from this White House have been from the President over the years as you know. He once mocked John McCain as a POW, as a soldier, who was captured. At one point the President said, when he was a candidate that he likes soldiers who aren't captured. And so a lot of this negativity comes from the top but we heard some of it earlier today from this low level staffer.

BERMAN: Has the White House responded at all, Jim?

ACOSTA: Not yet, and we should mention we're at a Trump rally that just wrap up in Indiana. The President did not mention John McCain in his comments. But a White House official did put out a statement earlier this evening, not really an apology John, I mean, we should also mention this was an anonymous statement put out by the White House.

This official saying, "We respect Senator McCain's service to our nation, and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time." Referring to Senator McCain's battle against cancer.

We also understand that this person, Kelly Sadler this staffer here at the White House reached out to Meghan McCain, the senator's daughter earlier this afternoon after the story broke and apologized to her. But we don't know exactly what was said during the course of that phone call. But I talked to a White House official earlier this evening, there's a lot of shock and disbelief that this kind of comment would be made, and after what the President pulled off last night, bringing back those American prisoners from North Korea. This official said on top of this being just an ugly and an embarrassing comment. It's stepping on top of what they thought was going to be a good news cycle for the White House. But this often takes place with this White House as you know, John, they find all sorts of ways to step on their message. But this was possibly perhaps not the final low, but a new low for this White House, in going after Senator McCain in that fashion. John.

[21:05:00] BERMAN: All right, Jim Acosta in Elkhart, Indiana thanks so much.

We did get new reaction tonight from Cindy McCain. This is what she wrote. "May I remind you, my husband has a family, seven children and five grandchildren." By the way, that was tweeted at Kelly Sadler's. So that's a comment from Cindy McCain directly to this White House official who made the comment.

And Senator Lindsey Graham, said this "Ms. Sadler, may I remind you that John McCain has a lot of friends in the United States Senate on both sides of the aisle. Nobody is laughing in the Senate."

As Jim mentioned this is not the first time someone on the Trump team has insulted Senator McCain. The President has lashed out multiple times at the Senator's military record and his voting record.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He hit me. He's not a war hero. He's a war hero. He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captures, OK? I hate to tell you.

And except for one senator who came into a room at 3:00 in the morning and went like that, we would have had health care too. We would have had health care too. We got a bad vote, the evening we were going to determinate Obamacare. We got a bad vote. You know that, right? That was not, I think.

We actually had it beaten except for one vote. You remember that beautiful night. It was defeated but one vote changed.


BERMAN: So lots to talk about tonight with the panel. Joining me now, Molly Ball, Jeff Toobin, Jim Schultz, Paul Begala, Karine Jean- Pierre, Stephen Moore.

Stephen, I want to start with you tonight. This comment from Kelly Sadler, a White House official on a conference call with congressional press secretaries, he's dying anyway, about Senator John McCain, someone who served this country for so very long.

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMICS ANALYST: It's indefensible. And, I've always had -- not always, often had policy disagreements with John McCain.


MOORE: But this guy is one of the true great American heroes of all time. And, you know, it's too bad that this got out. I'm sure that Kelly didn't mean what she said because -- by the way, let me just say this, it is true that John McCain did cast the vote that would have led to the repeal of Obamacare. I think he was mistaken in doing that. And so there are some hard feelings about that. He was the only -- one or two Republicans voted no. But look, he's a great American hero, and his -- the truth is, his opinion on these issues of -- you know, interrogation are important because he went through that in Vietnam.

BERMAN: So the White House just say, we're sorry?

MOORE: Of course, yes. Absolutely. Because they haven't --


BERMAN: They should, Karine?

JEAN-PIERRE: Yes. I agree with parts of what Stephen just said, is that they -- yes, they should apologize as you just said, but it is -- I mean it is beyond disgraceful, John McCain is a hero, he is a patriot, and he should be treated as such. He's clearly suffering from a horrible brain cancer, and so this is not the way to talk about folks, someone who has given practically their life for this country.

[21:10:05] But, you know, it's not surprising coming from this administration when we -- you just show that segment -- at the beginning of the segment of what Donald Trump has said about John McCain. And it really starts from the top, and goes on down. And even with John Kelly himself, as chief of staff, the things that he said about -- let's not forget Frederica Wilson, calling her an empty barrel. So it is kind of the way that this White House has operated from the campaign, candidate Trump and now as President Trump.

BERMAN: Does it come from the top? Jim, we were talking about this before, you don't think that President Trump has in anyway opened the door for this kind of comment from lower staff?

JAMES SCHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: I don't believe that the comments that he made, which by the way were entirely insensitive and again, John McCain's a war hero, he's an American hero. What he has done, and people like him have done. But we have freedom as a result of that about no questions asked.

But I don't believe you can just say that what Donald Trump's comments, the President's comments in 2015 automatically led to what she said today. What she said today whether it's John McCain or anybody whose family is going through that kind of heartache and trouble is indefensible. And insensitive. And should not have been said. And she apologized to the family, at least one family member at this point from what we understand. And she should.

BERMAN: Josh Campbell, a former government official sent me a quote from Colin Powell, Paul, which is, as a leader, you set the tone for your entire team.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's true, especially Presidents. Especially within the White House with staff I've been there, believe me. When George W. Bush took up mountain biking, all of a sudden all my friends who worked for him bought mountain bikes, OK, the President set a tone and it's a disgusting and disgraceful comment, it might even be worst that this person in the White House are not publicly apologizing thought to McCain and why because as Karine is pointing out, the President insulted Senator McCain's war heroism before he never apologized.

[21:10:05] He mocked the physical disability of Serge Kovaleski, a reporter for the New York Times, he never apologize. He insulted Meghan McCain in the most pure out way imaginable, never apologize. This is just not what this guy does. It's nothing does a mistakes, but he just continually refuses to apologize for his disgusting behavior, which sets the tone for everybody works for him to do other disgusting things, that's what's happening here.

SCHULTZ: And also like the note that, you know, the comments that the President made relative to the health care vote, the comments that the White House may make or other folks may make, disagreeing with John McCain, as a result, as it relates to the vote he's encouraging people to cast on Gina Haspel's candidacy for the CIA. That's all subject to disagreement. And the discourse should take place. But there's no way we should attack his military service, and certainly not being -- we shouldn't be insensitive to what his family's going through.

BERMAN: A vote is a vote, right, and that's separate from this.

You know, Jeffrey Toobin, you constantly note what sometimes appears on other cable networks.


BERMAN: There were comments on other cable networks.

TOOBIN: I'm an avid watcher of other cable networks. Yes.

BERMAN: On other cable network today, there was an analyst who basically questioned the patriotism of John McCain and noted that he cracked under torture, which isn't actually in fact true. I mean, do you see this tone permeating elsewhere?

TOOBIN: Yes, I think we should talk more about Donald Trump's war heroism. I think it is -- look, this is -- the whole thing is disgusting, and the idea that this didn't come from the top is absurd.

I mean, you know, where did this flunk can I get this idea to mock John McCain? Because the President mocks John McCain, I mean, come on, it's just like -- it's why do we pretend otherwise.

BERMAN: This by the way, isn't just mocking John McCain, which the President has done before. This is mocking a man who's very, very sick.


BERMAN: You know, who's home in Arizona, Molly, battling brain cancer. I guess it seems to me, and I understand what Paul is suggesting. The politically speaking the White House can't apologize here, because it would open up criticism to past comments the President has made. It seems to it could simply said we're sorry, we're sorry for any additional suffering we've cause Cindy McCain, John McCain and the McCain family tonight.

MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the staffer in question apparently has apologized, and she probably should do it publicly. I agree that it's an indefensible comment. It's not even really mocking McCain or his military service or anything like that it's just making an insensitive comment about someone who's going through something very difficult, it's in very dire medical situation.

I mean, anybody who is in that condition should not be commented about like this, no matter what their stature is in society or what they've been -- it's just a basic lack of manners. That's what it is and I think that's what has so often seems to emanate from the President in particular, this refusal to back down, whenever offensive things are said and done. The insistence on being able to say things that are just rude.

And so, you know, this is not -- this is not World War III, this isn't the first time someone made a bad joke that they said something that they didn't mean or comment that didn't land and that person should certainly take it back, but I do think that -- with the White House, and their relationship.

And I think the other thing about John McCain is that this isn't just a dying man who's now able to express himself, John McCain throughout his career has stood up for what he believed in, whether it was politically expedient or not. And so that to me is important point.

MOORE: Let me just add one thing to that. What this nation needs is heroes and this is a great, great American. I mean, maybe one in a million people could have with stood what he went through at the Hanoi Hilton. He was the last person let out. He would not live until all the other -- I mean that's an incredible story of heroism. And we just need more stories like that.

BERMAN: I think we should leave that discussion on that point right there.

All right, Stephen, thanks so much.

We have much more ahead. The Vice President says it's time to wrap up the Mueller investigation. New CNN polling shows if the American public agrees. And later, Little Rocket Man is about to meet with the dotard. These are the names that they called each other. That's how we learned what dotard meant in the first place. This was not that long ago. So who gets the credit and if it all goes wrong, who gets the blame?


[21:17:26] BERMAN: The Vice President has a suggestion for the Special Council, Robert Mueller. Just go ahead and shut down the Russia investigation. Watch this.


MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's been about a year since this investigation began. Our administration has provided over a million documents. We fully cooperated in it and the interest of the country I think it's time to wrap it up. And I would very respectfully encourage the Special Council and his team to bring their work to completion.


BERMAN: So that's what the Vice President says.

We what the President thinks about the investigation, what do the American people think? New CNN polling shows the majority do not approve of how the President is handling talking about the investigation as for Robert Mueller Republicans give him just a 17 percent approval rating that's down 12 points since March.

Among Independents and Democrats are really hasn't been a shift at all. Back now with the panel. Jeffrey Toobin, first on the timing of it, and I know you think that the Vice President's comments weren't necessarily out of line, but put yourself in Robert Mueller's shoes, does he care what the Vice President thinks? What kind of pressure do you think he feels?

TOOBIN: You know, I think he feels in general the need not to be Ken Starr, who spent five years -- not to be Lawrence Walsh, who spent five years. So I think as a general matter, he feels a considerable amount of pressure to act with dispatch not interfere with the midterm elections. But does he care what Mike Pence said, not a bit.

BERMAN: Molly, I'm struck by the CNN polling out just tonight where you see the number among Republicans and their support of the investigation dropping, you know, on every single question, should the President testify those are dropping? It really does seem that the political message the President is pushing is having an effect.

BALL: It's having an effect with the people who are listening to him. And this is absolutely a successful communication strategy the White House and the President to politicize the investigation and delegitimize it in the minds of Trump supporters.

Now, along the lines of what Jeff was saying, that doesn't necessarily matter to Robert Mueller, but it is going to matter when and if he returns some substantive conclusions and then it becomes a political matter.

You know, the Vice President saying, let's wrap it up that's assuming -- he's assuming that nothing comes of it, he's saying, you wrap it up and there's nothing there, and we all wipe our hands and go about our business because the administration feels this is a dark cloud hanging over them that's unfair. But what happens when he wraps it up and there is something there that's when it becomes a political matters.

[21:20:00] BERMAN: And Molly, I think that is the biggest point here that I think people don't talk about enough. Karine, which is that when Robert Mueller is done, he will likely write a report, and we will see that report, it will likely not go to a courtroom the next day. This will not be for a judge and a jury. This will be for people in politics. This will be for Congress, and this will be for the American people here, so the jury that the President's playing too right now, is the American people.

JEAN-PIERRE: Right. And that's exactly right. That's why it's interesting because people have been saying, well, Democrats should not run on impeachment. But Donald Trump is running on impeachment. That's how he's mobilizing his base. We've heard him say that a couple of rallies. One in particular about three weeks ago.

And so he knows exactly what he's doing. And I totally agree, once something comes of this, and I think something is going to come of this. I mean, in less than a year Robert Mueller has gotten more indictments, has gotten folks to plead guilty and corroborate with him, than any other investigation that we've ever seen at such a rapid pace. So I would imagine that there is something there, there. There's certainly -- there's a lot of smoke.

MOORE: Well, you know, it's nice --

JEAN-PIERRE: But I do. Well, let me finish. And you can make your point.

MOORE: OK, go ahead. Yes, sure.

JEAN-PIERRE: But I do agree, I think at the end of the day, what's going to happen if something is turned over and it becomes a political issue, which is why I think November is so important for at least the Democrats.

MOORE: So it's nice to know that Mike Pence is watching CNN because I probably said this about a dozen times on this show, it's time to wrap this up, or at least have a time limit on this.

I think the American people are fair minded about this. The idea that this should go on and on, and that Mueller should go into the stormy case, and that he should look into his financial dealings and it does -- to conservatives and Republicans, it does start to look like a witch hunt. And I've always said, don't fire Mueller, just say you're done by June.

And one other quick point, it's not surprising that these numbers have improved so much for Trump because of this, and it's because of what's going on in the world. It's because of the amazing --

SCHULTZ: What you're talking about is overall numbers.

MOORE: And that's why Republicans are rallying behind him in this way, because everything is going so well for this President.

JEAN-PIERRE: Can I just call out the hypocrisy and when there was fast and furious in Benghazi there was no Republicans -- oh let's stop this. Let's stop that there were no indictments, there was no criminal charges but they went on with something that -- there was nothing there. And here you have Robert Mueller in less than a year has gotten indictments, has gotten people to corroborate.


BERMAN: Whoa! I can't shut because I'm going to lose my voice here in one second. But luckily Stephen what we do have, and I know as an economist, you'll appreciate if we have numbers and we can put them up on the screen here, 75 criminal charges, 22 defendants, five guilty pleas. That's not nothing, Stephen?

JEAN-PIERRE: There's smoke, there's a lot of smoke.

MOORE: Really this is about the President, right? And what has he got on the President? I mean I think the American people have a right to know.


SCHULTZ: Extrapolate that to the President and there's a there, there as it relates to the President. He's absolutely irresponsible.

JEAN-PIERRE: No, it's not --


SCHULTZ: We said this time and time again. The only folks that know what Mueller knows is Mueller's team, right? And to say that just because all of these indictments have occurred. Just because that there has been fruits of the labor as it relates to the investigation doesn't mean there's a there, there as it relates to the President.

BERMAN: Jeffrey Toobin, we want to hear with you.

TOOBIN: I was with you for like half a second.

BALL: Yes, that's right.

BERMAN: OK, go ahead.

TOOBIN: No, I mean, the Mueller investigation is not over. And despite my best efforts, is not an institution that leaks. So don't know what they're doing. You know, I didn't know that they were going to indict 13 Russians, no one even knew they were investigating the Russians for the social media conspiracy case that they brought. So, you know, I think we need to have a little patience. And see what comes up, and those polling numbers only reflect that Democrats and Republicans at this moment in our history see the world completely differently.

MOORE: That's very true.

TOOBIN: And no matter what Mueller comes up with, you can be sure that Democrats and Republicans will see that differently as well.

BERMAN: As (inaudible) once said, all we need is a little patience. We're going to take a quick break right here. We're going to continue the conversation, next.


[21:27:32] BERMAN: So as you know, one of the President's favorite things to repeat ad nauseam is no collusion. It's a witch hunt. And various other claims about the ongoing special counsel investigation as we mentioned.

Now, Vice President Pence is chiming in saying, it's time to wrap it up. He said he is doing it respectfully.

Back now with the panel.

And Paul, I want to start with you because you sat patiently through the last discussion is the bar --

BEGALA: If I had hair, I would have ripped it out.

BERMAN: Is the bar for the Special Counsel investigation whether they get the President or not? I mean, there's an investigation going on here into Russian meddling, there have been indictments, there has been discovery. There have been government sanctions placed as a direct result of it. So is the only measurement about whether there are ultimately charges which may not be legally possible anyway, against the President?

BEGALA: No, we went to gets the truth, not the President. We want to know what happened to our election. We know to know if one of the campaigns was high jacked or infiltrated. Whether one of the campaigns conspired with the Russians to help hack our elections.

Mr. Mueller according to Michael Caputo, a former Trump aid is focus on that. You know, Caputo has talked about his time testifying that with Mr. Mueller's agents. We can wrap this up more quickly, Mr. Vice President if you will tell your friend and boss the President to testify.

If he's nothing to hide, if he's so innocent, he'll testify, and he'll cooperate but, you know, he's not going to do, he can take the fifth, right? Because as he says, Donald Trump said, only people who take the fifth are guilty. So we'll know pretty quickly if in his own mind he's innocent or guilty.

By the way, there's little problem with the premise of your question. The President does face legal criminal liability. The better of the scholarship from the office of legal council, the Justice Department from the '70 was a sitting President cannot be indicted. I greatly doubt Mr. Mueller is going to go against that. But he's not President for life. One fine day he will walk out of the gates of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and on that day he will be subject to indictment. And my guess is if Mr. Mueller finds criminal conduct by Donald J. Trump, those indictments may will come when he walks out the door of the White House. So he's got huge personal criminal exposure -- potential exposure here as well.

BERMAN: Yes. It's a long way down the road. We don't know if Vice President Pence would do if he would pardon the President. We have seen that before in the past.

Stephen, I want you to respond in that quick and then we'll move on here. Again, is the only gauge for whether or not this has been a useful investigation, whether there are ultimately charges on the President?

MOORE: I'll say this that, the reason I disagree with Jeff on this is, you know, it appears -- again, to me as a conservative and Republican, that what's happening right now in Washington and Democrats are trying to paralyze and cripple this presidency by not approving his appointments, I mean, half of the people -- there's nobody in charge of the government right now because the Democrats won't approve half of the people. And then you have got this investigation that's going on.

[21:30:19] JEAN-PIERRE: They're corrupt and they're unqualified.

(CROSSTALK) JEAN-PIERRE: They're unqualified. And they can't get their paperwork done. They can't even get their own people through on their even.

MOORE: You want to put him in jail. I mean, it's ridiculous, they want to criminally prosecute him.

TOOBIN: Do you know how Mitch McConnell controlled the Senate when Obama was President.

BALL: That's exactly right.

TOOBIN: And how many administrators -- No, let me finish. Don't interrupt me. You know what, let other people talk. Other -- they did not allow any judges to be confirmed. And you may remember someone named Merrick Garland who was not confirmed. So the idea that Republicans are whining about the Senate --

MOORE: That was the Harry Reid rule. You know that, Harry Reid established that rule that within the last year, you don't -- remember that?


MOORE: And now you're blaming the Republicans?

TOOBIN: I don't have no idea what you're talking about.

JEAN-PIERRE: The Republicans have the House and they have the Senate. They have the House, and Senate in White House.

MOORE: Harry Reid said you don't approve but -- you know that.

BERMAN: No, no, no. Harry Reid did not say that about Supreme Court justices.

JEAN-PIERRE: No, he never said that.

BERMAN: The strong do as they will, and the weak suffer as they must. That's what Mitch McConnell proved with Merrick Garland there in the last year of the Obama administration, that's for sure.

MOORE: Harry Reid and Schumer said, we will not approve --


BERMAN: Stephen, you brought up something before that, that was interesting to me, which is that one of the things the President said is, he would like to be spending more time on other things. It doesn't seem as if this is holding him back on the things that he wants to focus on. He's just out in Indiana tonight, Jim, talking about how successful his efforts have been with North Korea, by his own admission, he got those three hostages back. It's a great moment. The Mueller investigation didn't get in the way of that, did it?

SCHULTZ: No, certainly it didn't. I mean, the government is moving forward, he's still accomplishing goals. North Korea, tax reform, there's a lot of things --

BERMAN: So what's the problem?

SCHULTZ: What it is, is a distraction from the American people. We need to get back --

BERMAN: How are the American people being distracted?


SCHULTZ: -- Avengers movie, this is an absolute distraction for this administration, in moving forward. It freezes up a lot of what -- people's time, you only have so much time and so many resources in the White House, if you're dedicating time to the special council investigation, you can't be working on other things. Could you imagine what he would be able to accomplish if he wasn't dealing with this.

But let's go back to the fact that they started asking the President, they started discussions with whether the President is going to be interviewed or not. That signals this thing should be coming to an end soon. And -- if --

BEGALA: If you're his lawyer, do you tell him to testify?

SCHULTZ: If the President agrees.

BEGALA: You're his lawyer, pretend.

SCHULTZ: I said before, Rudy Giuliani did a good job out of the gates, that first weekend talking about scope of the questions, time of the questions, now it went off the rails going into the following week, but that weekend, talking about time and scope and negotiating, that's all good stuff. And actually having to be able to trust that there's going to be fairness on the other side. That's what lawyers need to make judgments on at this point in time, as to whether the President testifies.

BERMAN: All right, stand by, we're going to take a quick break. Just ahead, what a difference a few months make. President Trump praising North Korea leader Kim Jong-un not so long ago, he called him Little Rocket Man.


[21:36:50] BERMAN: We met the North Korean detainees in the overnight hours at Joint Based Andrews. President Trump was generous in his praise of North Korea Leader Kim Jong-un.


TRUMP: We want to thank Kim Jong-un who really was excellent to these three incredible people. We very much appreciate that he allowed them to go before the meeting. It was sort of understood that we would be able to get these three terrific people during the meeting and bring them home after the meeting. And he was nice in letting them go before the meeting.


BERMAN: Wasn't all that long ago of course that the President was in a very different frame of mind.


TRUMP: Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself. And for his regime.

North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury. Like the world has never seen.

And we can't have mad men out there shooting rockets all over the place. By the way Rocket Man should have been handled a long time ago.


BERMAN: As he said, that was then, this is now.

So what should we make of all of this. Back now with our distinguish panel. And Molly, it's a remarkable image that overnight watching those detainees returning to the United States. More importantly, it's a remarkable night for the families of those people who have been in captivity for as long as they have even more remarkable is June 12th in Singapore. The President of the United States is going to sit down with the North Korea Leader Kim Jong-un. That's a month from now. Things have moved incredibly quickly.

BALL: They really have. And I think the arc that you just played, the narrative is I think to Trump a perfect case study in his theory of negotiation. His theory of sort of human dominance, what happened. He threatened someone, he insulted them, he humiliated them and they crumbled, right? The North Koreans basically said, all right, we've had enough we want this to stop. And they came to the table and now everything is nice. And Trump is smiling.

BERMAN: This is what he things --

BALL: -- and say, nice things about him. So I think in Trump's mind, this is how you handle people. This is how you deal with people on a various sort of elementary human level. I think the real test is going to be what comes next.

The real test is going to be, you have the doubters of what's going on with this process, or saying we may be getting taken for a ride, that he may not know what he's getting into that the North Koreas maybe getting too much of tis, but we will not know until we get to the end of this story, exactly how successful this unprecedented tactic, this process has been.

BERMAN: Yes, there were people who say that Kim Jong-un is getting everything he wants here. I mean that maybe what's driving this. The fact of the matter though is, Paul, this meeting is happening -- this meeting is happening June 12th. 77% of Americans in the new CNN Poll say they support this meeting.

BEGALA: I wish we're 100 percent. I certainly support my President, I want limb to do well.

BERMAN: But you also see in the numbers, you can see North Korea, if you look inside it does seem that this type of thing that's starting to move some within underlying numbers for the President. Approval rating still at 41 percent, not great but Democratic approval in North Korea, and everything having to do with it is very high.

[21:40:10] BEGALA: Well, I think that's fine, I don't think that's important, frankly. What the polling says is a lot more important on how my President defends my country. And he is giving away the store, it's spectacular. The most important thing Kim wants is recognition and respect on the global stage. Especially a presidential visit. This is why the United States has declined for 60 years to give a presidential. We think very close couple times.

He wants exactly the tableau that he saw last night. President of the United States praising him for releasing people he should have never incarcerated. This is the man who murdered Otto Warmbier. Just think about his family, Student at University of Virginia who did nothing wrong for that regime essentially murdered. He died as soon as he got back home on American soil.

So Kim wants recognition, he wants the U.S. out of South Korea, the President already saying, he's looking at pulling back troops there. So he's going to look -- it looks like Kim has a strategy, right, which is international recognition. And decouple the United States from the Korean Peninsula. And leave our allies there unprotected from his nukes. I'm not sure where the President is going with this. I really want him to --

BERMAN: Should he have not accepted the three detainees back last night?

BEGALA: Of course you accept them, come on. But what you don't do is stand there, Barack Obama accept it far more detainees from North --




BEGALA: But he didn't stand up there and give the guy a wet kiss on national television because he understand he's still a murderous thug and we still have national security interest in that region.

BERMAN: Jim, one of the things the President did say is that Kim Jong-un has been excellent, that's his word, Kim Jong-un has been excellent to the detainees, these are people that he took into captivity.

SCHULTZ: So we heard fire and fury, my button is bigger than yours and mine works. The -- BERMAN: We're talking President and Kim Jong-un here, right? Just to

be clear.

SCHULTZ: Little Rocket Man and everybody at this -- all the Democrats at this table sat there. Sky was falling. Oh, my gosh, we're going to be in nuclear war, this is terrible. Now all of a sudden we're giving away the store?

BEGALA: I just don't see --

SCHULTZ: You're not credible on this, Paul.


SCHULTZ: They can't have it both ways. He has to say, we're going to be nuclear war now all of a sudden say we're giving the store. This is a negotiation. Recognize it as such. The President has done a good thing here. We have three detainees back and he's going to meet with Kim Jong-un on June.

BEGALA: He was too reckless in his warrior language before. And now he's far too feckless --


SCHULTZ: We have some success.

BEGALA: They shouldn't have been taken in the first place.

SCHULTZ: Did you give Obama credit for the 11 he brought home?

BEGALA: Sure. But he didn't stand up there --


MOORE: I know a lot of liberals like you thought it was a reckless thing when Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union the evil empire, right?

BEGALA: I was in school. I didn't --

MOORE: Look, I mean, that kind of language. By the way, the end of the Reagan administration, the Soviet Union was in dissolution.

BEGALA: Because of that speech.

MOORE: I agree with your point. This is a dangerous situation because one thing, you can't trust this guy as far as you can spit, right?

JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, exactly right.

MOORE: And so, you know, entering an agreement with him, -- I mean, it makes me a little bit queasy. Maybe I'm not part of the 77%. I'd like to see Kim make more concessions before we go into this.

BERMAN: Karine?

JEAN-PIERRE: I agree actually with what Stephen just said.

MOORE: I'm uncomfortable with these coalitions.

JEAN-PIERRE: And clearly I support everything that Paul just said. Look, so fast forward. Things have happened. We are where we are. My concern is, is he going to prep for this, right? Is he going to -- this is a man who can't -- Donald Trump is a man who can't sit through a national security briefing. How is he going to manage this for June 12th? Because we just don't know. This is now an apprentice board room that he is going to be walking in. This is the real deal, and so he's treated this thus far as a TV reality show at 3:00 a.m. saying, hey you guys are getting great ratings and do the big to do with the detainees coming home, which is great for their families, which is great for our country. But that's my concern. How is he going to prep, what is he going to do. Is he going to give away more of the store? And that's what I'm concern and worry about.

BERMAN: June 12th in Singapore, we will see. Thank you all for being here. I appreciate it.

Coming up, a detailed look at deputy attorney general, the one in charge of the Mueller investigation. Gloria Borger's report on Rod Rosenstein. The first who has one of the toughest jobs and maybe one of the most important jobs tonight in Washington.


[21:48:35] BERMAN: Some Republicans in the House have threatened to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The Washington Post obtained a draft of articles of impeachment. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee also was threaten of Rosenstein with being held in contempt to Congress over access to documents. Documents that according to sources, Devin Nunes, the chair didn't even bother to read when Rosenstein acquiesced. Chairman Nunes is also threaten to hold attorney general Jeff sessions in contempt.

Today Chairman Nunes and fellow intelligence committee member Trey Gowdy met with officials from the Justice Department and the FBI calling in a productive meeting. But the cloud that Nunes and his ilk try to cast over Rosenstein is the similar to one that the President cast with his Twitter finger.

CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger has a close look.


GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): If the President is your boss, this is not what you want to hear when he's asked if he'll fire you.

TRUMP: You figure that one out.

BORGER: Trump was dissing his own deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein. For whom every day can be a near death experience. As a frustrated President lashes out at the Russia investigation.

TRUMP: The entire thing has been a witch hunt. And there is no collusion.

BORGER: Rosenstein became the man in charge, once the attorney general recused himself. So he's the one who hired the special council, which leaves him as the man in the middle. Between Trump and any move to fire Robert Mueller. A precarious place. Oddly enough, Rosenstein started out as a teacher's pet.

[21:50:06] TRUMP: He's highly respected, very good guy, very smart guy, the Democrats like him. The Republicans like him.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This guy is a man of upstanding character, and essentially the gold standard at the Department of Justice.

BORGER: Rosenstein's stock rose even higher when after just two weeks on the job he wrote a now infamous memo at the request of the President. Lamb basting FBI Director James Comey for mishandling the Clinton e-mail investigation.

ANDY WHITE, ROSENSTEIN FRIEND AND FORMER COLLEAGUE: If the President asks you to look at this and give me your thoughts, you can't say no.

BORGER (on camera): So he writes the memo.

WHITE: He writes the memo.

BORGER: And then?

WHITE: All hell breaks loose.

BORGER (voice-over): The President loved it, almost as much as he hated Comey. So much, in fact, that he received it, released it, and fired Comey all on the same day last May.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we have major breaking news.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The President of the United States has terminated the director of the FBI, James Comey.

BORGER: Josh Campbell, a close Comey aide, was with him in Los Angeles when Comey learned watching CNN that he had been fired.

JOSH CAMPBELL, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO JAMES COMEY: They said, we have a letter from the President that was dropped off at the visitor center at FBI headquarters.

BORGER (on camera): Visitor Center?

CAMPBELL: At the Visitor Center indicating you've been fired. They said there's something else. There is something attached to this letter. There is a lengthy explanation from the deputy attorney general laying out a case against you.

BORGER: Was he surprised at Rosenstein?

CAMPBELL: He was very surprised at Rosenstein. And again, not that they were chummy or friends or you would know what to expect because none of this was telegraphed.

BORGER: Do you think he knew that it was going to be used by the President as the rationale publicly for firing James Comey?

WHITE: Well, I think he had to know it was going to be used in some degree. I don't think that he realized that the President was going to put greyhound bus tracks on his back with that memo. I don't think that he realized it was going to be used in that way.

ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: My memo, truthfully reflects my views. I'm not in a position to comment on anybody else. So from my perspective into that memo, is about what it is about. I don't know what was in anybody else's mind.

BORGER: But in Comey world, Rosenstein is seen as a Trump collaborator, not an independent actor.

BORGER (on camera): So what's the motive?

CAMPBELL: I think the motive is to keep his job.

BORGER: What's Rosenstein's rep now?

CAMPBELL: There is conflict there. He is someone that people are suspicious of. But in these interesting times people are looking at him and thinking he might be the last best hope that we have to ensure that Bob Mueller is allowed to do his job which is a strange place to be in.

BORGER: Rosenstein is 53, married with two teenage daughters.

WHITE: He's a dad. His world has changed a lot because of this.

ROSENSTEIN: My younger daughter was 14 at the time when she heard I was going to become deputy. She asked me a very important question e. She said, dad, does this mean you'll get your picture in the paper?


And I said, no.


BORGER (voice-over): But he keeps his own counsel even with his friends.

WHITE: With Rod, you scratch the surface and you get more surface. But that's him. He is inscrutable publicly. Professionally he's devastatingly effective, he is methodical, he's thorough.

BORGER: A career justice department official with a Harvard law pedigree, a former U.S. attorney from Maryland for a dozen years, a Republican appointed by George W. Bush.

JAMES TRUSTY, ROSENSTEIN FRIEND AND FORMER COLLEAGUE: He's been presiding over a small district that was bringing every case you could imagine from material support of terrorism to public corruption to MS13, to corrupt jails where almost all the guards get indicted. I mean, he's been aggressive and he has not shied away from the political spotlight when it comes to prosecutorial decisions.

BORGER: He was confirmed for his current job last April, 94-6. But the shine wore off quickly after the Mueller appointment. And then Rosenstein further enraged Trump by not stopping the Michael Cohen raid.

TRUMP: So, I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys, good man, and it's a disgraceful situation.

BORGER: And an increasingly tenuous one for Rosenstein.

SALLY YATES, FORMER DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: No one is above the law, even the President.

BORGER: Obama appointee Sally Yates is a former deputy attorney general fired by Trump last year.

YATES: The President can't fire a prosecutor because he's mad that he authorized a search warrant of his lawyer's home and office.

[21:55:05] BORGER (on camera): All right, he can be mad about it.

YATES: Sure, he can be mad about it, as long as he's not trying to influence his conduct.

BORGER (voice-over): At a recent meeting with the President, Rosenstein himself volunteered the Cohen raid did not put the President in any jeopardy but the President remained furious.

TRUMP: I'm disappointed with my Justice Department. But because of the fact that it's going on, I think you'll understand this, I have decided that I won't be involved. I may change my mind at some point because what's going on is a disgrace.

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: I believe Attorney General Sessions, my good friend and Rosenstein, who I don't know, I believe they should, in the interest of justice, end this investigation.

WHITE: If he asks rod to fire Mr. Mueller, Rod would resign is my guess because at that point it's untenable. You have a, you have a President who is not respecting the process, not respecting the constitution. He won't do t.

BORGER (on camera): He won't?


YATES: It would be a red line for the President to fire Bob Mueller. But it should equally be crossing a red line if he were to fire Rod Rosenstein as well.

BORGER: And what red line is that?

YATES: Well, it is a red line in terms of totally turning the rule of law on its head.

BORGER (voice-over): Some Republicans would see it as a step in the right direction, calling Rosenstein conflicted because he wrote the Comey memo. They also fume he won't provide his unredacted internal memo detailing the scope of the Mueller investigation. The President himself again threatening, at some point, I will have no choice but to use the powers granted to the presidency and get involved.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you afraid of President Trump firing you?

ROSENSTEIN: No, I'm not, congressman.

TRUSTY: Rod is -- he's like shockingly fatalistic.

ROSENSTEIN: There are people who have been making threats privately and publicly against me for quite sometime. And I think they should understand by now, the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted.

WHITE: He is a career public servant. He's a career prosecutor. Whatever Mr. Trump wants to say frankly can only make his reputation go up.

BORGER (on camera): Even if he gets fired?

WHITE: Especially if he gets fired.


BERMAN: That was Gloria Borger reporting. We'll be right back.


[22:00:11] BERMAN: Thanks for watching 360. Time now to hand it over to Don Lemon, CNN Tonight starts now.