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Trump, Kim Jong-un Summit to Take Place June 12 in Singapore; Former Firm Rejects Giuliani's Defense of Stormy Payment; Monica Lewinsky Disinvited to Event After Bill Clinton RSVPs; Pentagon on Niger Ambush, Multiple Failures, No Direct Blame. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired May 10, 2018 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: ... as being part of Israel. The international community does not recognize that the Golan Heights is part of Israel at this point.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: I do want to switch gears and talk about North Korea. Because the President has announced the time and place for the meeting with Kim Jong-un, June 12th in Singapore. What do you make of the location?

LEIGHTON: Well, the location is very interesting. Singapore is at the cross roads of anything in Asia when it comes to all the trade routes, all the different areas that are important from not only to trade but from a natural resources standpoint. So, Singapore sits aside what is known as the Strait of Malacca. And a huge volume of international shipping goes through here. If North Korea is supposed to join the family of nations, they are going to have to become a trading nation. And this is perhaps symbolic. Perhaps another aspect to this would be the fact that Singapore maintains good relations not only with Washington but fair relations with Pyongyang. So, they are seen as a neutral area or semi neutral area where both sides can feel comfortable doing this first breaking of the ice since the Korean War.

KEILAR: Col. Cedric Leighton, thank you so much for that.

And just in Rudy Giuliani's law firm, the one that he just resigned from today is disputing his explanation for client payoffs like the one with Stormy Daniels in an interesting new twist. Plus, Monica Lewinsky publicly scolding in a magazine after they disinvited her from a clarity event. The reason? President Clinton decided to attend. We'll discuss.


BALDWIN: This just in to CNN, the law firm that Rudy Giuliani just resigned from is distancing itself from one of his statements referring to Michael Cohen. Giuliani has suggested that it was common for lawyers to make secret payments to individual to keep them quiet. As Michael Cohen paid off Stormy Daniels about her alleged affair with President Trump.


RUDY GIULIANI, LAWYER FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: I take care of things like this for my clients. I don't burden them with every single thing that comes along. These are busy people.


KEILAR: Well, moments ago a spokeswoman from Giuliani's former firm said this, quote, we cannot speak for Mr. Giuliani with respect to what was intended by his remarks. Speaking for ourselves, we would not condone payments of the nature alleged to have been made or otherwise without the knowledge and direction of the client.

Giuliani just announced he is leaving the law firm to concentrate on his legal work for President Trump in the Russia investigation.

And it was an event meant to honor do-gooders and it got overshadowed by accusations of bad form. And in the middle of it is former President Bill Clinton.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: First let me thank "Town & Country."


KEILAR: Well, Clinton's press secretary says he did not know that once he RSVP'd the "Town & Country" magazine's philanthropy summit that Monica Lewinsky would be then be disinvited from that. Lewinsky tweeted about how offended she was.

Quote, she said, dear world, please don't invite me to an invent, especially one about social change, and then after I've accepted uninvite me because Bill Clinton then decided to attend/was invited. It's 2018, Emily Post would just not approve. PS, and definitely please don't try to ameliorate the situation by insulting me with an offer of an article in your mag.

Joining me now is Emily Peck, a senior reporter at the Huffington Post. Whose story revealed that this was "Town & Country" who was involved in this. Emily, great report. Since your story, the magazine tweeted. This is pretty fascinating.

They said, we apologize to Miss Lewinsky and regret the way the situation was handled.

I mean "Town & Country" clearly mishandled this. They even admit that. What should they have done?

EMILY PECK, SENIOR REPORTER, HUFFINGTON POST: They shouldn't have uninvited Monica Lewinsky to their event. I mean, it's honestly a matter of etiquette for starters. They should've handled this a lot better. And if you really look at that apology, it's very passive. They don't actually take ownership. They say we regret how this was handled, as though they weren't the ones that handled it.

KEILAR: The press secretary for Bill Clinton says he didn't know about this. What are your sources telling you about Bill Clinton's reaction to this? PECK: I'm not hearing much about his reaction. I think it's true

that he didn't know about this. The magazine was trying to avoid the potential scene of having, you know, Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton in a room together. But, you know, there are other ways they could have handled it. He was speaking very early, he didn't stay for the whole event. He could have been finished and she could have came. And I have a feeling at 2018 at this moment it really wouldn't have been a story. They made it into a story.

KEILAR: It's stunning when you think well, now it is 2018. It's just so stunning how this popular view of Monica Lewinsky has really shifted. She was so demonized in the 90s and into the 2000s. Now she's seen to this very different lens as a victim. As a survivor of someone who was bullied and came out on the other side. What impact is this shift having here?

PECK: I mean, I think it's really incredible the way we've radically change the way we think about Monica Lewinsky from the way she was really treated as a pariah in the 90s. And she's really able to come back now -- especially during this me-to moment and reclaim her story. And it's been really remarkable to watch. And I think you're seeing that with this moment. You know, she didn't go away, head hung low, say nothing about what happened to her. She took to Twitter and she spoke up for herself. I heard from women who attended the event and they felt they wanted her there.

You know, this is a different time and I think this is in many ways she's part of this bigger moment we're seeing for women all over the country, refusing to be silenced. You know. That's what this me-too moment really is about.

KEILAR: Yes, and she really does come out on top certainly in this one. All right, Emily Peck, thank you so. Great report.

[15:40:00] PECK: Thank you.

KEILAR: Still ahead, the Pentagon now revealing what happened to four American soldiers during that ambush in Niger, including why Sergeant La David Johnson was found so far away from the bodies of the other three.

Plus, President Trump says Kim Jong-un was, quote, excellent to three Americans who were just released from North Korean captivity. But now some lawmakers are criticizing the praise. A member of the House Intel Committee is going to join us live next.


KEILAR: Breaking news on what happened to four U.S. troops ambushed and killed by ISIS fighters last year in Niger.

[15:45:00] The Pentagon's long-awaited findings were released today. And they cite multiple failures. But there's no direct blame here. Investigators say two junior officers actually falsified documents to get approval for that unsuccessful mission. The four soldiers who were killed in the ambush Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright, Staff Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sergeant Bryan Black and Sergeant La David Johnson. The Pentagon says that Johnson was separated from the others in his body was found two days later. Let's listen.


MAJ. GEN ROGER CLOUTIER JR., U.S. AFRICA COMMAND CHIEF OF STAFF: He was never captured alive. His hands were never bound. His serviceable equipment was stripped and taken from him. But he was never in enemy hands alive. They did have access to his remains and took his equipment.

So, that first mission was one that was not properly characterized. It was characterized as a civil military reconnaissance when it was actually focused on the ISIS G.S. sub commander.

There were a series of contributing factor to what happened in Tongo, but none of those contributing factors are the direct cause of the enemy attack into Tongo. The direct cause of the enemy attack in Tongo Tongo is that the enemy achieved tactical surprise there.


KEILAR: Let's discuss this now. Congressman Denny Heck is a Democrat. And Congressman, I just want to know, you obviously have been awaiting the findings of this. You were at the funeral at Arlington Cemetery for Staff Sergeant Bryan Black. You spoke at the memorial service for Bryan in Puyallup, Washington. So, when you saw the results of this investigation come out today, what did you think?

REP. DENNY HECK (D), WASHINGTON: Well, the first reading would lead you to the conclusion that if it could go wrong, it did go wrong. But I think really when you further examine it, and analyze it with a little bit more depth, the heart of this thing was a confusion as to what the mission was. If there had been a uniform, clearly understood mission that had a higher level of support and intelligence support, then I think we might have had a different outcome.

But after that reading and that evaluation, Brianna, I think the important thing is in honor of this last full measure of devotion that these four Special Forces soldiers gave to their country. What is important is that the lessons learned be fully implemented. That is the greatest way now to honor them is to assure whatever it is that we learn from this is applied going forward so that it can be avoided. And you know, it's not a case, Brianna, where we will ever say on this day there were no casualties because of the lesson learned. It will just be the case. And that's what we hope for.

KEILAR: I want to ask you about some of the specifics in the report. It shows that this Green Beret team wasn't trained to the degree that they should have been for this kind of mission. And that the actual mission objective wasn't approved by the commander in charge of approving such missions, a lieutenant colonel who was stationed in Chad. What did you think specifically of that?

HECK: Well, I think it is this mission confusion that was the main contributing factor to the tragic outcome. But the fact is that there were a whole series of things from a lack of intelligence support from overhead services, a lack of training in the exact way in which this team was comprised. And we could go on and on and on because it's a long list. But again, at its heart was the mission confusion, which I think was the principal contributing factor to it.

Senator Tim Kaine has said that Congress was misled about the nature of the militaries mission in Niger. You're talking the mission confusion as you talk about it. That there was supposed to or there was this expectation that it was training and advising local troops when it's clear that U.S. forces there in Niger also were going after terrorist targets, that this is part of the greater mission, they're man hunting. Do you agree with Senator Kaine?

HECK: I didn't hear directly what he said, Brianna. And frankly, in the wake of the issuance of this report, I'm a whole lot more focused on Bryan's widow, Michelle, and his two young sons, Zeke and Isaac. And the sacrifices that they will make for the rest of their lives. And ensuring and encouraging and consoling and advocating and doing what I can to make sure this instance isn't replicated into the future. Again, there are lots of lots, if not dozens, of things that went wrong. And we need to correct for them and remedy for them. And that's my objective now.

KEILAR: It is a good objective certainly as we think of them along with you, Congressman. While I have you here are, I do want to ask you about the Russia probe. Congressman Devon Nunes who is the chair of the House Intel Committee that you're on. He had a classified D.O.J. briefing today on documents that's he's seeking. You've crossed swords with him in the past. What do you think his end game is here with these documents?

HECK: To undermine Director Mueller's investigation and to ensure that the base of the Republican Party is as cohesive as possible.

[15:50:00] Should director Mueller that there were high crimes and misdemeanors committed in a more serious consideration and deliberation of impeachment is brought forth. That's what I think his objective is. His objective in hindsight from the day he went down to the White House for the midnight rendezvous to the famous Nunes memo that Russian bots propagated and advanced and accelerated throughout the internet, to this stunt today. Pretty clearly indicates the absence of seriousness on his part about actually conducting an investigation to get at the truth of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

KEILAR: Rod Rosenstein has said -- he said this last week the DOJ won't be extorted. Do you see that happening here?

HECK: In an attempt at extortion or do I see the extortion actually occurring?

KEILAR: Clearly, you believe it is an attempt?

HECK: Well, in the past when they have been pressured in the end they frankly have capitulated to him. He obviously occupies a seat of pretty considerable power and influence. And I think mindful of that. But when you translate it all out and you net it all out I'm going to put my confidence in the Department of Justice to do the right thing here.

KEILAR: All right. Congressman, we really appreciate it. Congressman Heck, thank you for your time today.

HECK: You're welcome.

KEILAR: Next, a Republican candidate for Georgia governor is raising eyebrows with his gun toting ads. We'll break down the strategy behind them.


BRIAN KEMP, GEORGIA REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR: Two things, if you're going to date one of my daughters.


KEMP: -- and

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- a healthy appreciation for the second amendment, sir.

KEMP: We're going to get along just fine.



KEILAR: Political ads are everywhere as voters around the country prepare to hit the polls, but none are raising eyebrows like this latest gun toting ad in Georgia's gubernatorial race from Republican Brian Kemp.


KEMP: I'm Brian Kemp. I'm so conservative -- I blow up government spending. I own guns. That no one's taking away.

My chain saw's ready to rip up some regulation.

I got a big truck. Just in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take them home myself. Yep. I just said that.


KEILAR: Obviously priding himself on being politically incorrect. And here talk with us about it is Lauren Fox. She's our CNN congressional reporter. What is the strategy here in considering that this is playing in Georgia? What are the chances that this is successful for him?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, we should note that he obviously thinks this is obviously fairly successful because this is the second ad that's similar to this. He had another ad where he was talking to a young man about dating one of his daughters and he at one-point sort of points a firearm at the young man. So clearly, he thinks this is a winning strategy.

And I think this sort of speaks to the fact that Republicans in Congressional races, in Senatorial races and now in this governor's race are clearly trying to take a page from the President Donald Trump playbook. They see this as a way to sort of stand out. They see this as a way to say, you know, we are not part of the political establishment. We are willing to stand up for your rights, especially your Second Amendment rights. And they're willing to go toe to toe with Washington. That seems to be successful.

KEILAR: Both of those themes -- this is why this reminded me a little bit of Joe Manchin's ad back when he was coming in Congress in West Virginia. He's facing re-election obviously. Let's take a look at that.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (R), WEST VIRGINIA: I sued EPA and I'll take dead aim at the cap in trade bill. Because it's bad for West Virginia.


KEILAR: So, he shoots the cap in grade bill -- which never ended up seeing the light of day anyways. He got so much attention. It perhaps not a wonder that these candidates are doing this. Paul It always gets them notoriety when they do.

FOX: Well, and for someone like Joe Manchin running in a very red state, that Trump won overwhelmingly, this is a good strategy for him. You know, he looks at this as a way to show West Virginians, look, I carry a gun. I know how to shoot a gun. And when it's time for me to stand up for you, I'm not afraid to do it. And I think that's exactly what we saw from Joe Manchin. We should note though the strategy doesn't always work to be so bold. I mean, look at what we saw earlier in West Virginia with Don Blankenship this week. You know? He didn't win so --

KEILAR: Talk about this sign in Maryland that's getting a lot of attention. It tells liberals to get the guns if they try to impeach President Trump.

FOX: Well, I think this sign short of shows where our body politic is at the moment. You hear a lot of members on Capitol Hill, especially some of the Republican moderates who are retiring saying, you know, we have just gotten too far in terms of rhetoric. Republicans and Democrats can't even sort of sit down at the table anymore and have a normal conversation about where the common ground is that we might agree on. And I think that's sort of what that sign displays to me. Now it sounds like it was in someone's private property. There are a lot of people in the area who were complaining about it. Some saying they like it, some saying they don't. And I think it just reveals how divided the country is right now.

KEILAR: The sign's not going anywhere. FOX: No. It appears that is it's in private property. So that's why

the cops are like, we can't do anything about this.

KEILAR: But they're getting a lot of blow back and also supporters of it. Very interesting. Well, Lauren Fox, thank you so much.

FOX: Thank you.

KEILAR: Our congressional correspondent for being with us and explaining these stories. And "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, THE LEAD: Thanks, Brianna. Interesting decision, copying Nixon almost word for word. "THE LEAD" starts right now.