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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump-Kim Summit in Jeopardy; Qatari Investor Confirms He Was At Trump Tower in 2016; Cohen Lied That The Trump Organization Had No Recent Activity with Russia; Federal Judge Denies Manafort Motion to Dismiss Criminal Charges; GOP Senators Give Trump A Pass on McCain, ZTE; Interview with Sen, Mike Rounds (R), South Dakota; Interview with David Brody of CBN. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired May 15, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, breaking news. North Korea threatening to cancel the Trump-Kim summit. The White House caught completely off guard.
Plus, wimping out. Republicans say they're unhappy with Trump about his treatment of John McCain, and his tweets about saving jobs at a Chinese phone company. So why didn't any of them say it to his face today?
And as the president rails against media, there is one T.V. anchor who is getting unprecedented access, and his name is not Sean Hannity.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news. A bombshell announcement catching the White House off guard. North Korea taking the White House completely by surprise with a sudden warning that next month's Trump-Kim summit is in jeopardy.
The reason, joint military drills between the U.S. and South Korea which have just begun. North Korean state T.V. referring to the drills as, quote, provocative military disturbances. North Korea suddenly suspending planned high level talks with South Korea which were actually scheduled to begin hours from now.
So this is real and the White House clearly caught flat-footed releasing a statement early this evening which says, quote, we are aware of the South Korean media report. The United States will look at what North Korea has said independently and continue to coordinate closely with our allies.
In other words, they have no idea what the heck is going on. And the president himself silent. No tweets. And here's his response when reporters asked him about the breaking news late today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you worried about the summit, Mr. President?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you meet with Kim Jong-un, sir? Will you still meet with him?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you to Singapore?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: No response at all.
Clearly, the United States does not know what's really going on here. Now part of the issue is that these military drills that we're talking about here are routine. They were known to the North Koreans for months. The U.S. and South Korea actually announced this round which happens annually back in March.
And when the South Koreans came to Washington, remember, and said Trump and Kim were going to have this unbelievable summit. They stood outside the White House and explicitly said that North Korea's Kim Jong-un was aware of and OK with this specific set of drills.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUNG EUI-YONG, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, SOUTH KOREA: He understands that's the routine, joint military exercises between the republic of Korea and the United States must continue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Everyone picked up on that line at the time. It was incredibly significant. Kim was OK with it. He understood that the joint drills, which he always said were provocative, were OK and would continue. So in March, he was OK with it and then he met with Mike Pompeo twice since then. He released three American hostages just days ago, so what has changed.
Well, one thing we know tonight, this is not what President Trump expected. He's tweeted nearly two dozen times since March about the summit and the progress he's made with Kim. He's talked about winning a Nobel Prize. He expected to be the one deciding whether to walk out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If the meeting, when "m there is not fruitful, I will respectfully leave the meeting. 2 It's not going to be fair and reasonable and good, I will -- unlike past administrations, I will leave the table.
If it's not a success, I will respectfully leave. It's very simple.
BURNETT: Well, a person threatening to leave tonight, not Trump, Kim. Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT at the White House. And Jeff, look, the president, the White House clearly caught off guard. There's no question about that. How concerned are they that Kim may actually go ahead with this?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They aren't sure quite frankly. At this hour 03:50 in Washington not just the White House is caught off guard. The State Department, the Pentagon as well, simply did not see this coming.
But it was just less than a week as President Trump was standing on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews. I was out there watching him. And he said that he believes that Kim Jong-un is serious about this because he wants to enter into the real world. That was part of this sort of crescendo of expectations if you will, that really been building for, you know, since March 8th or so. And, the president came out and said he wanted to do this.
But at this hour, this evening, they don't know. They're trying to hold their powder. They're trying to have direct conversations. The person who is going to likely figure this out or broker this is the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo. He's the only American who has sat fate to face with Kim Jong-un. So he, you know, and others are going through this. They are trying to not just base their information on news reports.
But, Erin, the reality is, that's where the president learned this, from news reports. So, at this point, a White House official says they are still planning on the summit. You know, it's supposed to happen June 12th. That is just around the corner here. But, they'd be lying if they said they knew it was going to happen.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Jeff Zeleny.
[19:05:01] And I think that we can all say, obviously, the North Koreans often use the right to state media to say what they want to say, but they'll say it's a sign of disrespect to do that instead of communicating directly with someone you're about to have an unprecedented summit with.
Colonel Cedric Leighton joins me now, former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, along with Jean Lee, former North Korean bureau chief for the Associated Press. She is now director of the Center for Korean History and Public Policy at the Wilson Center. Phil Mudd, former CIA counter terror official also with me.
Colonel, let me start with you. Why is Kim Jong-un threatening this right now after, let's just be clear, it couldn't have been more clear, he was OK with these drills.
RET. COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, FORMER JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF MEMBER: I think, Erin, we're seeing a change in tactics on the part of the North Koreans. There are several factors that could play into this. One of them would be that he is basically playing hard to get in the typical North Korean way of doing this. They've done this before, many, many times.
The previous agreements that we've had with them have been broken. Previous meetings that have been scheduled with them have not taken place in previous engagements. This looked a little bit different and we've gotten very far in this particular set of things.
LEIGHTON: But there's another possibility. And that is, that there's a completely different set of people orchestrating things in the background in Pyongyang and maybe they're saying, OK, this is the time to do something different and to catch the United States off guard as well.
BURNETT: And Phil, they've succeeded in that. I mean, there's no question. The U.S., the White House at least, certainly, completely caught off guard. What do you make of that?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I would chill out if I were them. Let's break this down. Look, we went from zero to 60 with the North Koreans in couple of months. We went from meeting a girl at a singles bar to marriage and now the bride is a little bit nervous and we're saying we're surprised?
Let me give you a different optic on this, Erin, and that is, there's a lot of constituencies dictators have. Dictators do not like to show vulnerability.
MUDD: This is Kim not necessarily just talking to us, it's talking to people within North Korea for example including the North Korean military to say, I'm going to go into talks where we're reversing decades of policy from my grandfather and my father. I'm not rolling over, I'm still the tough guy.
I think there's internal messaging here that we should not be that concerned about. Let's chill out a little bit here and watch this one roll.
BURNETT: So, Jean, you know, the president obviously didn't tweet today, and was silent when reporters asked him questions. But he has been complimenting Kim every chance he gets recently. I mean, you know, with the great flowery prose for him. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Kim Jong-un was -- he really has been very open and I think very honorable from everything we're seeing.
We want to thank Kim Jong-un who really was excellent to these three incredible people.
Kim Jong-un, who has been very open and very straightforward so far.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Honorable, open, excellent, straightforward. He did say so far there, Jean. Maybe the most operative words of all of those. But was he fooled? Did he think this would be too e easy?
JEAN LEE, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR KOREAN HISTORY AND PUBLIC POLICY AT WILSON CENTER: Well, he might be eating his words, but I think that North Korea is taking a play out of President Trump's playbook by issuing contradictory statements and sewing confusion. So hopefully he understands that this is something he's been doing as well and the North Koreans are returning that.
BURNETT: I mean, Colonel, does this show Kim has the upper hand? I mean, he's now more unpredictable than Trump, right? He out trumped Trump here. He's the guy that threw the ranching to it.
LEIGHTON: Well, kind of like the guy in West Virginia. You know, it seems that that's a critical thing for the North Koreans to do. And it could be that they're doing that, but I think if Trump is smart, he'll go back to what he said earlier. And if he wants to make it very effective and very tough on the North Koreans as he can say, look, if you don't want the meet, that's fine.
I've got the three Americans back. I'm good to go. If you want to meet, great, if you don't want to meet, that's OK.
BURNETT: I mean, Phil, to that point -- you know that the president didn't tweet about it, right? We said a couple of dozen tweets since March but today, nothing, right? And then when reporters yelled questions, he didn't say anything.
That's just not his normal way, right? He is uncharacteristically reticent. How important is his personal response to this, Phil?
MUDD: I think it's really important because I think people in Washington are Washington-centric. They're going to think that this message is directed at us. If I were Washington, I'd step back and say we've been at negotiations with North Koreans for decades. We've seen the North Koreans reverse course.
As I said just a moment ago, I think this is partly North Korean messaging to an internal audience to say, Kim Jong-un saying I'm not going to roll over. If I were the president, I'd say, just let this roll, even if we delay the summit, we have an historic opportunity here.
Let's look at the big gain here. That is the potential for peace in the Korean Peninsula. And let this other stuff about complaints by Kim Jong-un roll by the wayside. I wouldn't pay that much attention to this. I think the president's response is dead on if he stays quiet.
BURNETT: If he stays quiet. Obviously, there's a big if on that.
[19:10:00] We'll see, you know, as tomorrow morning, 6 a.m. rule passed.
I mean, Jean, look, here's the thing. The president has bragged, and it is -- and, you know, when you hear the Nobel Prize being chanted at his rallies, he clearly loves that. He relishes it and he likes to talk about it. He has bragged that he is going to do something that every previous administration has failed to do when it comes to North Korea. He clearly cares about that badge. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: A lot of, this should have been handled, by the way, over the last 30 years not now.
We will not repeat the mistake of past administrations.
The United States has never been closer to potentially having something happen with respect to the Korean Peninsula.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: He wants it, Jean. He wants it really badly. Does he want it too much?
LEE: Now that he's put that out there and made it clear that he wants to do this historic -- have this historic moment with Kim Jong-un, this is the North Koreans saying let's see how badly you want it. We are -- we may walk away. The North Koreans like to make their foes and people across the table uncomfortable. And this is precisely what they're doing. They want to do this to kind of strengthen their hand when they eventually do get to that table.
BURNETT: So, Jean, is there something they want him to give up that he can't give up to have the summit, or so it, you know -- I mean, because obviously, the military drills are not on the table. They never were. They never have been.
LEE: I think there's also another way to look at this, which is to consider the possibility that they are a bit nervous that the summit may not go the way that they want. And then certainly not privy to what discussions the secretary of state had with Kim Jong-un.
But they are also creating this space for a face saving way to back out if things aren't going their way. This is a huge deal for Kim Jong-un as well.
BURNETT: All right, thank you all three very much. Obviously, a very crucial night as we wait to see if the president does respond personally.
And next, breaking news, a federal judge refuses to dismiss Paul Manafort's case siding with the special counsel. Says Bob Mueller is within his scoop.
All right, this is a very significant piece of information because he criticized them and said give me your mandate. He read it. She decided Mueller could go ahead. What does that say?
Plus, Republican senators talking tough about confronting Trump today. The problem is, they had the chance, they met him face-to-face and they didn't do it. One of the senators who was there, face-to-face with Trump is my guest. And new details tonight about the health of the first lady Melania Trump.
[19:16:06] BURNETT: New tonight, a powerful investor with billions of dollars confirming he went to Trump Tower during the transition. An admission coming only after Stormy Daniels lawyer made the claim on Twitter. Michael Avenatti tweeting, quote, why was Ahmed Al-Rumaihi meeting with Michael Cohen and Michael Flynn in December 2016. And why did Mr. Al-Rumaihi later brag about bribing administration officials according to a sworn declaration filed in court.
MJ Lee is OUTFRONT. And MJ, we've confirmed the government of Qatar has admitted that this particular investor was at Trump Tower. There were meetings with others involved. With this massive fund, nearly $200 billion. So Avenatti seems to be right.
What does this say about his sources?
MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Well, Erin, the reason that we started talking about this Qatari investor in the first place is because of Avenatti's tweets. He was clearly trying to suggest that Ahmed Al-Rumaihi may have been involved in some kind of nefarious meeting with Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer, as well as with Michael Flynn, Trump's personal National Security adviser.
So, what we got this afternoon is a statement from a spokesman for a sports company that Al-Rumaihi owns. Stating for the first time why he was at Trump Tower. The statement in part said, Mr. Al-Rumaihi was at Trump Tower on December 12, 2016. He was there in his then role as head of Qatar Investments, an internal division of QIA to accompany the Qatari delegation that was meeting with Trump transition officials on that date."
Now, the spokesperson also said that Al-Rumaihi did not meet with Michael Flynn and that the role -- his role in these meetings was limited. And we're also told by a source that there were several meetings that took place between the Qatari delegation and Trump transition officials that day, and that during one of them, Michael Cohen briefly popped in.
Now, what's interesting too is, as you alluded to, we did received a new statement from a spokesperson for the Qatari Government and they are downplaying this Qatari investor's role in the government meetings that day as well. Al-Rumaihi was present at Trump Tower but did not participate in any meetings with the government delegation, it's what the spokesperson is now saying.
Now, in terms of Cohen's participation in any of the meetings that day, it's really important to know that we have more questions, clearly than answers at this point. We don't know what briefly popped in means. We don't know if he engaged in Qatari Government delegation, in conversations with them, or Al-Rumaihi and any substantive conversation period. We don't know what they might have discussed either. However, I do think that this is just one more piece of information that sheds a little more light on Cohen's conduct during the Trump transition when we already know that he was very busy trying to sell his proximity to the president-elect.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, MJ.
And OUTFRONT now, former assistant U.S. Attorney for the southern district of New York, Harry Sandick, where of course Michael Cohen is under criminal investigation, and our Chief Legal Correspondent, Jeffrey Toobin.
Harry, you know, kind of the bottom line here, the Qataris were there for meetings.
HARRY SANDICK, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Right.
BURNETT: The Qatari Investment fund itself is the largest sovereign wealth fund on this planet. It's about -- it could be $200 billion. We know the Kushner family which had some real estate issues, was looking to do business with Qatar. When you put that together, does this raise questions?
SANDICK: Well, I think it's at least some ground for further investigation to try to figure out whether what happened that day has any connection to any of the other aspects of the Qatari business that you've mentioned. And it's not clear today whether it does. Should Michael Cohen ever become a cooperating witness, of course, there's been speculation that he might be.
SANDICK: If he was in any way present during these meetings, that might be another way for the government to learn something more about what actually happened.
BURNETT: Right. And of course, now, we're talking here, Jeffrey about, you know, people were abusing power, or power that was coming their way, right, to try to get money, that's at the heart of this.
[19:20:02] And it comes as we now have proof on tape that Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen falsely told Sean Hannity, his friend, in an interview in January 2017 that the Trump Organization had no relationship with Russia. He was pretty definitive about it. So let me play out.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MICHAEL COHEN, TRUMP'S PERSONAL LAWYER: There's no relationship. The last time that there was any activity between the Trump Organization, actually really wasn't even the Trump Organization, it was the Miss Universe pageant, was held in Moscow.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: When was that? COHEN: Six years ago.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the technical legal term. The technical term for what Michael Cohen was doing there is lying.
BURNETT: Oh, I'm glad that's a technical legal word.
TOOBIN: You didn't go to law school, but I think you're familiar with that term.
No, I mean, it's just astonishing. You know, I've interviewed Michael Cohen about his negotiations to set up at Trump Tower in 2016.
BURNETT: Right. During the campaign.
TOOBIN: During the campaign.
BURNETT: Talking to the Kremlin --
BURNETT: -- about a Trump Tower meeting.
TOOBIN: And here he is telling Sean Hannity there had been nothing since the Miss Universe pageant in 2013. Just a complete lie.
Now, the -- what's important is why would he lie and the reason he would lie presumably is that they have consistently been trying to downplay connections between people in the Trump campaign and Russia.
TOOBIN: Think about how many people, Jeff Sessions, he couldn't remember his contacts with Russia.
BURNETT: I do have a poll.
TOOBIN: Jared Kushner --
TOOBIN: -- he always had trouble remembering things. It's always Russia and they're always not telling the truth about it.
BURNETT: Lying --
BURNETT: -- is the technical term. I mean, I don't what other words used but it's not true what he said.
SANDICK: And what -- you know, what a prosecutor could one day argue in a case involving these lies is, if there was nothing to hide, why all the lying. Why would people continually distance themselves from Russia if there wasn't anything going on behind the scenes.
Now, it could have been inadvertence, but given the repeated nature, as Jeff was explaining, it sort of hard I think at this point in time to just lay it off to someone made a mistake. They got a fact wrong.
TOOBIN: We should point out though that despite Sean Hannity's exalted place in the world, it is not a crime to lie to Sean Hannity. It is --
TOOBIN: -- not a crime to lie to any journalist. But --
BURNETT: Maybe these guys should stop giving interviews to Sean Hannity. These friendly (ph) interviews like what we are doing whether it's Cohen or Giuliani.
TOOBIN: That's a good point.
BURNETT: Guys, sometimes a friend is not your friend.
OK, we also have a big development here in the special counsel, right, looking into all of these ties. A federal judge rejecting Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, he tried to get a case dismissed, right. The criminal case against him.
Judge rejecting that effort in Washington. Manafort said Mueller is beyond his bounce. He's outside of his mandate. This isn't OK.
Judge said no. Mueller can proceed. What's the significance?
SANDICK: I think it's very significant for two reasons. Number one, there are two cases pending right now against Paul Manafort. One in Washington and one in Virginia.
The Virginia case is the one where the judge made all sorts of negative comments about the government's case.
SANDICK: He will read this very detailed opinion by the judge in Washington. And may well be influenced by it, may well bring him around the government side.
BURNETT: So he could serve (INAUDIBLE) or a guide.
SANDICK: It could. It won't be binding because one trial judge can't bind another, but it could definitely serve as a guide. The other thing that I think is interesting is when we have -- and there are two scheduled trials for this summer and fall.
SANDICK: A lot of the secrecy of the Mueller investigation will be laid bare. Will Rick Gates testify and what will he be like as a witness? Will there be any spillover in terms of the evidence that touches on issues in the campaign?
We don't know but this will be the biggest reveal by the Mueller team.
BURNETT: And that the judge in Virginia, the other case, same issue, different case, different judge in Virginia had said, "I don't see what relation this indictment has with what the special counsel is authorized to investigate? Right? Questioning the special counsel's motive, saying to the special counsel, what you really care about is what information Mr. Manafort could give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump.
He was very clear. But this other judge is now saying no, the mandate doesn't include this.
TOOBIN: And Judge Jackson in her opinion goes through in detail why Mueller was authorized to bring these charges. And I think in a sort of cosmic sense, the most significant aspect of this trial -- of this ruling, is that it really ratcheted up the pressure on Paul Manafort to plead guilty.
He now knows he can't get out of this trial in Washington. He's going to have to go to trial. Will he really go to trial even in the face of his deputy or Rick Gates?
BURNETT: Or will he now try to offer cooperation.
TOOBIN: Or willing now to try to cut a deal. That's I think is the big question hanging out over the -- both Manafort cases. The one in Virginia and Washington. And it was just a very bad day for him today.
BURNETT: All right, thank you both very much.
And next, Republicans say they're really unhappy with Trump about the John McCain dying joke and the Chinese phone company that's susceptible to spying. Then they had him in a face-to-face meeting and didn't say anything. Why?
Plus, a journalist with rare access to the president revealing what they talk about several times a week.
[19:25:02] David Brody of the Christian Broadcast Network is my guest, OUTFRONT tonight.
BURNETT: Tonight, Trump gets a pass. Republicans for days have been saying publically that they are not happy with Trump specifically on two issues right now. One, the White House's refusal to apologize for an aide's cruel joke about Senator John McCain dying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, should the White House apologize to John McCain for the remarks that they've made last week?
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I believe so and certainly, the comments that were made, in fact they were made and no one's denied it that they were made, I find them to be offensive.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: The best way for this to be put to rest and it should have happened immediately, would have been for the White House to issue a public apology.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. The other is the president's tweets about saving jobs at a Chinese tech firm called ZTE. It's an important company, 50 million phones sold in the United States in the past few years. It's a company that U.S. intelligence officers have testified could be used for espionage and it's been accused of violating U.S. sanctions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: Any of these state-owned businesses by China are opportunities for them to steal intellectual party by cyber theft and to embed in our telecommunications infrastructure in a way that raises huge national security issues.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you planning on telling him the -- addressing this with him?
CORNYN: Absolutely. Yes, we'll have that conversation.
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: I'm still trying to understand that. I think all of us are. So we'll have some questions I'm sure at lunch about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: We'll have that conversation. We'll have some conversations that were sure about that at lunch. Well, they didn't.
Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill. So Manu, they said they did and then they didn't. What happened? Did they wimp out?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, Republican after Republican after this lunch told me they just ran out of time because the president talked extensively during this hour session and only allowed time for two questions. One was about immigration, another one was about projecting some unity in messaging heading into the election year. Republicans didn't get a chance to ask him these questions about the McCain aide and about the concerns over this Chinese firm ZTE.
Now after this meeting, we had a chance to ask these senators why they decided not to press this subject with Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Did the president explain in your lunch why he chose to highlight the Chinese company ZTE, and what's your view of that company?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I don't recall.
REPORTER: Did you talk about trade?
MCCONNELL: I can't remember whether we discussed that issue or not. I don't think we did.
REPORTER: Did anyone ask about all this?
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: No, we just had a couple of questions.
SEN. JOHN HOEVEN (R), NORTH DAKOTA: He just covered a whole range of subjects. And, you know, he was there for well over an hour. And we, you know, I was on focused on the ag and other people were focused on other things. So, just a litany of things we covered. That was one we didn't get to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: And instead, this was a very jovial meeting, I'm told. That the president said that he would campaign everywhere, including in key states, and also made several jokes, including talking about Melania Trump's poll numbers, that they're higher than in your opinion, how they're higher than his and he said he told her not to run against him, in 2020. And that prompted some laughter in the room, Erin.
BURNET: Of course. Even with his wife, it comes down to the polls.
OK. Manu, thank you very much.
And I want to go now to Republican Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota, who's on the Armed Services Committee. He was in that lunch today with President Trump.
All right. Senator, it sounds like he tried to filibuster you guys and there's a monologue going on. Let me give you the benefit of the doubt there. But let's just start with John McCain.
Why didn't the White House's apology come up today in the lunch when so many of you all said you thought he needed to step up and it was going to come up?
SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: It's a very serious for a lot of us. You talk about duty, honor and country, you think about John McCain. Today, honesty is the best policy. We ran out of time. We were talking about other issues.
The president in this case, he could have been a member of the United States Senate. He was on a roll today. He had a number of issues he wanted to talk about. He touched on a number of very important issues.
He talked about where we're going with the economy. He talked about North Korea. He talked about Iran. He talked about China. He talked about Israel and what's going on there. He hit like a number of items --
BURNETT: So, was it like a stream of consciousness? He didn't take a breath for anything else?
ROUNDS: He was on a roll. And but he was also touching some things that we're very important to us. NAFTA is an example, in the Midwest, we're concerned about NAFTA. And he got into the NAFTA discussions. He talked about the direction he wanted to go, talked about his desire still to get a better deal in what he thought was already on the table. He shared that with us.
He talked about the concerns with China. He didn't talk about ZTE, but he did talk about the concerns about what they've been doing to us as an economy. He talked about his desire to make a better deal. He was very sincere in his efforts. But it was also, as Manu has indicated earlier, it was a very lighthearted atmosphere for a lot of the meeting, and some of the issues that I think some of my colleagues had talked about, bringing up, we just ran out of time.
BURNETT: I mean, look, I understand, but, you know, as you just said, honor and duty and it's a serious issue when you talk about John McCain specifically. You know, earlier today, Senator, you said to reporters and I quote you, I know it's probably not their style to make apologies, but I can tell you that the vast majority of Americans would say John McCain deserves our respect. That's from the top to the bottom.
ROUNDS: That's absolutely correct.
BURNETT: If that was so important, I'm just trying to understand, right, one or two questions. Did you get intimidated by him and I don't mean just you but everybody? I mean, why wouldn't this come up?
ROUNDS: No, the two questions that we did have time for were direct, they were specific to him about what his plans were with regard to coordinating and working with us in the future. One had to do with his timing. And what he was going to do with regard to immigration, when he was going move forward on that.
And the second part was we've done a lot of good things in the United States Senate and in the House. We've passed a tax bill which we think has been one of the leading issues and one of the reasons why the economy is so good, and the president had a lot to do with that. We're talking about regulatory issues.
ROUNDS: And the fact is, the president is continuing to push forward on the regulatory redesigned. And we talked about the number of circuit judges. We've got one-eighth of all the circuit judges in the United States today are now Trump appointees.
When we started lying all that out in front of him, we're just saying look -- (CROSSTALK)
BURNETT: John McCain, again --
ROUNDS: And whether or not we're actually getting anything done and we need your help to get the message out.
BURNETT: Right. Do you have any regrets, though, that you didn't bring something up that was clearly so important to you?
[19:35:02] ROUNDS: There were hand up as quick as he could get done with one question, there was another question in it. But remember, he also was on a roll. He did more than 45 minutes straight discussing the issues that he thought was important and when you --
BURNETT: And then he allowed two questions.
ROUNDS: -- got the president of the United States in front of you, deferential treatment still says the office of the president will lay out the timeline.
BURNETT: OK, on ZTE. You said he brought up China trade. But you heard Senators Cornyn and Flake, your colleagues, right? They said specifically, we're going to have questions at lunch. Are you planning on addressing this with him? Absolutely. Obviously, didn't come up. ZTE, specifically.
I want to ask you, though, Senator, what the Chinese government reportedly agreed to loan half a billion dollars to a major development in Indonesia that includes a Trump hotel and golf course, and just three days after that deal, the president tweeted about wanting to save ZTE. Are you concerned that there could be a relationship there?
ROUNDS: Let me share wit you, first of all, I'm not familiar with the timing and I'm not familiar wit the facts surrounding that. We heard about this for the first time yesterday. So, I'm not going to suggest that there's anything wrong at the stage of the game, but I will tell you that in the United States Senate and in the United States House, when those types of accusations are made, we do our due diligence, we do come back and we do ask the questions, and there are appropriate places to do it.
In this particular case, when he gave us the opportunity after he was completed with his message, we ran out of time. The questions that were out there were valid questions. We weren't wasting time.
BURNETT: Do you think he was avoiding it though? I mean, I guess my bottom line question to you then is, he talked for 45 minutes. He takes two questions then runs out of there. He didn't want to talk about John McCain or ZTE, right? I mean, we're just clear, right? He didn't want to talk about it.
ROUNDS: Look, I'm going to lay this out right now, that's not -- that's not a fair way to put this thing.
The president came in. He talked about number of different issues. He laid things out.
He gave us a good insight as to what his thought process was with regard to immigration and his thought process with regard to NAFTA. And his concern about China and the direction he wanted to go.
He talked about North Korea and the focus that he had on North Korea and the critical issues and he gave us a history going back to why his logic was the way it was with regard to getting involved with North Korea.
He talked about Iran. He went into great detail with his concerns about Iran, which really interested us because we understand how critical that is and the fact that we've got European allies who have a different point of view. He shared with us his conversations there.
He went into real detail with us. And that takes time. So, when we got all done --
BURNETT: I'm sure it did. It sounds like you're making excuses considering what you all said you cared about, but you know, it didn't come up. I understand what you're saying, you thought what happened was important. But it does sound --
ROUNDS: We ran out of time.
BURNETT: All right. All right. Well, I understand. I appreciate your time. Thanks so much.
BURNETT: And next, President Trump just returning to the White House just visiting his wife Melania Trump at the hospital. We have new details on her condition this evening.
And the president shunning most reporters but, given one journalist unprecedented access to the West Wing. David Brody of the Christian Broadcast Network is my guest.
[19:41:37] BURNETT: Tonight, the first lady still in the hospital. The president spent over an hour with his wife Melania at the Walter Reed Medical Center today. She's recovering from a procedure to treat a kidney condition.
President Trump addressing how she's doing today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to start by saying that Melania is in the hospital doing really well. She's watching us right now u. And I want to thank the incredible doctors, Walter Reed Medical Center, they did a fantastic job. So, thank you and she sends her love.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Dr. Ketan Badani, the director of the comprehensive kidney cancer program at the Mt. Sinai Health System.
And, Dr. Badani, I appreciate your time. Look, you know a lot about this, so when we hear all of these words, embolization, benign, you can sort of read between the lines in a way no one else can. We have heard the procedure usually is noninvasive, that row don't need to be in for long, maybe in and out quickly. The president said Melania will be leaving the hospital in two or three days.
So, she's going to be in there for quite a while by the standard of saying in the hospital in America.
Why might she need such an extended stay?
DR. KETAN BADANI, DIRECTOR, MT. SINAI'S COMPREHENSIVE KIDNEY CANCER PROGRAM: Yes. I mean, it's a good question. If you think about these procedures, they're endovascular procedures. A cardiac stent is a very good example of what most people will recognize with, right?
BADANI: So, you go in, you come out, if it were you or me, we'd go home the next day. Now, there are various reasons why you might stay longer. If you have a bigger -- say, it's a bigger lesion of the kidney, a benign lesion, you need to make sure you got it and you do a repeat scan. You make sure everything is OK.
You could have symptoms from an embolization to the kidney. You know, you can get fever, you get nausea, vomiting, some other problems.
So, there are reasons why you might stay, but you're right. Typically, you don't stay that long.
BURNETT: Right. So, we don't exactly know why she might be need to be in longer. You raised some of the issues that could be there.
Is this something that happened suddenly? You know, that she suddenly would have found out or is this something she would likely have known for a while, a procedure that was upcoming?
BADANI: It could be either/or. I mean, quite honestly, you know, the two most common reasons why you would embolize a kidney is a benign tumor or a vascular malformation, some funny thing that's happening with the arteries --
BURNETT: You want to stop the blood going in. Cut it off?
BADANI: Exactly. You want to stop the blood flow.
Now, you could know you have it and not have a problem and then preemptively do that. So, that's an elective situation. Or you could have a bleed, an acute problem, and you need to urgently deal with it. It could be either one of those.
BURNETT: Again, we don't know which.
So what would the prognosis usually be here?
BADANI: I mean, typically, it's very good. I mean, again, the White House was clear, this was a benign kidney condition. So, this should be OK in the long term. It's just sometimes you might need retreat it. Maybe that's why she's staying in longer.
Or, listen, she has the privilege of staying longer and making sure nothing goes wrong. She's the first lady.
BADANI: She has the right to stay.
BURNETT: Use insurance like the rest of us, hey, you get your -- you know, your two days for this, your three days for this.
BADANI: That's it.
BURNETT: I guess the rules are -- all right. Thank you so much, Dr. Badani. Appreciate it.
BADANI: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, one of the few journalists the president wants to talk to on a regular basis seeks out and he has fascinating insight into the president's mindset. David Brody of the Christian Broadcast Network is OUTFRONT next.
And a pilot nearly sucked out of the window 30,000 feet in the air living to tell about it.
[19:48:05] BURNETT: New tonight: President Trump once going after the media, tweeting quote: Can you believe that with all of the made-up, unsourced stories I get from the fake news media, together with the $10 million Russian witch hunt, there is no collusion, I now have my best poll numbers in a year. Much of the media may be corrupt, but the people truly get it.
That might be the one capitalization which was intended in there, this point about strange capitalization.
OK, the truth is though, there are members he's on better terms with, including the White House correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network, David Brody. "The New York Times" reports he's at the White House several times a week. The president trusts him. He's interviewed Trump eight times during the campaign.
So, he knows a lot about what's going on. And David Brody is with me now.
David, good to talk with you. I appreciate having you back.
So, when the cameras are off, how is the president? What do you two talk about?
DAVID BRODY, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CHRISTIAN BROADCASTING NETWORK: Well, you know, lots of things. I remember during the campaign, specifically, one thing that sticks out, on a golf course near Los Angeles, where we would talk about Ben Carson for example. You know, things like that would come up, where he would talk about, he had just said he was OK doctor. Remember that big -- Ben Carson, OK doctor.
And I'm looking at him going on, and I'm from New York and he's from New York and I think there's a little bit of bonding there. And I said, he's not an OK doctor. I mean, I'm working into my New York, a group of Jewish, so I kind of do this with the hands.
He's not an OK doctor. And he goes, what do you mean? And I said, well, he's a world renowned brain surgeon separating conjoined twins at the head.
He goes, all right, he's a good doctor. I said, you're a piece of work. He goes, yes, I know, and he started to laugh. It's all fun and games to him a little bit, and this is a bit of the softer side of Donald Trump. 2
BURNETT: So, you know, in recent days, in recent weeks, as you've been talking to him, what's his tone and feeling then? Does he you know, talk about how he feels he's being treated what to do about it? I mean, what sort of thing is he reaching out to you about?
BRODY: Well, I think he feels under siege. And I think he's felt under siege right from the beginning.
[19:50:01] And as we all know, he is the -- probably the best counter puncher out there for sure.
He doesn't start from that place, though, Erin. As you know, I mean, typically, you know, the Little Marco and the Lyin' Ted and the Little Rocket Man don't come until he feels threatened. And then it all kind of lets out, and that's exactly what we see and that's what he does with the media. And that's why you see so much with the media.
Look, he wants to be treated fairly. There has been tough stuff written about him in the past, whether it'd be in "The Washington Post", some other places, but he's got relationships as well that have written tough stuff about him. He just feels like he wants to be treated fairly.
BURNETT: And he just obviously doesn't feel that's the case. But as you say, feeling under siege.
I mean, I want to ask you, David, because you have done a lot of work, you're obviously being part of -- when you talk about your broadcasting network, you've said your audience is not interested in the Stormy Daniels story. I just wanted to ask you, though, about a recent CNN poll, since we know the president loves his poll -- 69 percent of white evangelicals believe Trump had affairs before president. That's up seven points since February. Fifty-six percent say Stormy Daniels payment was done to protect the campaign, which, of course, is against the law, up 10 points since February.
Obviously, the president has denied these allegations publicly. Do you think it's a problem that evangelicals don't believe that he is telling the truth or not?
BRODY: Well, look, here's the bottom line in all of this. I just want to be clear in that "New York Times" article that came out.
BRODY: A fair article. But the full context of that quote was simple. And what I said in the full context, it wasn't all put in the article, but I said evangelicals maybe want to know about it, but they get it at CNN and they get on Facebook and they get it on lots of social media. So, they are getting it already.
So, what we are trying to do is provide a balance and fairness, some other issues that are not talked about as much, like here on CNN. Obviously, it's a lot of Russian, it's a lot of other things. So, we are trying to provide some balance. And I think that's important.
As for Stormy Daniels -- I mean, look, you know, evangelicals, know a thing or two about grace. They're giving this president grace. They're giving this president grace. And that's a big part of it.
BURNETT: And to that point, and, you know, we've had several evangelical leaders on this show, because obviously, what they have to say and their leadership is incredibly significant in this country and to many who support this president. You know, you said the presidents are willing to show grace.
But I want to show you, the double standard, David. In 1998, Franklin Graham wrote about President Clinton in a journal, an op-ed in "The Wall Street Journal", he wrote -- if he will lie to or mislead his wife or daughter, those with whom he is most intimate, what will prevent him from doing the same to the American public?
Why do we not hear that from evangelicals now, from a president who has clearly lied to his wife and family?
BRODY: I think it's a legitimate line of question. Look, Erin, I think there are a couple of things. First of all, evangelicals, whether it'd be Franklin Graham and others have access to this president. And they believe with that access comes great responsibility, to talk to him, to speak into his wife, to talk to him about the things of God.
That is their overriding concern, and I think that is something that the media misses. They need -- you need to understand that in their world and in that evangelical world, they are talking to him about the things of god and when they do that, they believe that --
BURNETT: They don't want to lose that access. They think that makes up for these other things? Lack of a better way of putting it.
BRODY: Right. Just understand we talk about access. And then all of a sudden, we hear, access is favor, it's power, it's all this. That is how Washington works.
Not in evangelicals world. They're having access -- yes, they want to affect public policy, who doesn't? But beyond that, they really believe they are speaking to him about like I said the things of god and that's very, very important because in the last couple of years and I wrote a book about it, plug time, "The faith of Donald Trump", and I talk about the spiritual voyage he's on in the last couple of years. You know, Stormy Daniels and all of that ten years ago plus.
But in the last couple of years, he has come in evangelicals that he has never come into contact with before.
BURNETT: All right. Well, David, I appreciate your time. Thanks for coming on.
BRODY: You bet, Erin. Anytime.
BURNETT: And next, a major scare at 30,000 feet, a pilot sucked halfway off the cockpit window, survived and telling the tale.
[19:57:18] BURNETT: Tonight, a flight crew hailed for remaining calm in a terrifying ordeal. A co-pilot sucked out a cockpit window 30,000 feet, the window shattered. The plane forced to make an emergency landing. He survived. And it comes a month after a passenger on southwest flight was partially pulled out of a broken window.
Rene Marsh is OUTFRONT.
RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shocked passengers on board a Chinese airliner as oxygen masks dropped. It started when a wind shield on the right side of the passenger plane's cockpit suddenly blew out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We were eating. All of a sudden, we heard a bang. Then the plane began to go down. The duration of the drop was about four to five seconds. It was chaos, all the lights went out.
MARSH: The Airbus A319 was 80 minutes into flight and flying in altitude of 30,000 feet when the windshield shattered and the co-pilot was sucked halfway out of the plane despite wearing a seatbelt. The co-pilot and flight crew were praised for the safe emergency landing in Southern China. The co-pilot surprisingly suffered only scratches and a sprained wrists and no passengers were hurt according to local media. PETER GOELZ, AVIATION EXPERT: You're going to look very carefully at
the maintenance record of the aircraft. Had they done any work on the wind screens prior? Had they perhaps taken it out and replaced it because there was a crack in one of the layers?
MARSH: Aircraft windshields are several layers thick. They're designed and tested to withstand air pressure at 400 knots and survived hitting a bird without catastrophic failure. But windshields occasionally crack and the pilots land as soon as they can. But a bird strike at 30,000 feet is not likely.
GOELZ: If a wind screen is going to fail, it is at lower altitude when it's hit by something, a bird, some other object strikes it. But they're designed to withstand that.
MARSH: This scare comes nearly one month after a passenger onboard a Southwest Airlines flight was killed. When an engine on a Boeing 737 broke apart and shattered a passenger window.
The female passenger was partially sucked out of the plane.
MARSH: Well, the NTSB is still investigating that incident here in the U.S. But aviation experts do not believe that this is a sign of a larger problem with aircraft windows, Erin. They point out these were two totally different aircrafts, a Boeing and an Airbus, and they believe that the cause of the accidents will likely have very different explanations -- Erin.
BURNETT: Certainly, of course, the timing though scary for anyone in the flying public. Thank you so much, Rene.
And thanks so much to all of you as always for joining us. We'll see you back here tomorrow night.
"AC360" starts now.