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Washington Post: Trump and Allies Push to Expose FBI Source; Trump Accuses Obama's FBI of Embedding Spy in Campaign; Speculation Grows Over Royal Wedding; Trump Still Planning Summit, Reassures & Warns Kim Jong-un. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired May 18, 2018 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO DONALD TRUMP: It looks like the Trump campaign may, in fact, have been surveilled.
[05:59:17] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They will make any claim that serves the president. They are not backing up any of these claims with facts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The American people have a right to know the entire scope of an investigation into the guy they elected president.
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: The day that we can't protect human sources is the day the American people start becoming less safe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump owes it to the American people to answer questions.
RUDY GIULIANI, LAWYER FOR DONALD TRUMP: We had the first hopeful communications. It was a good faith attempt to really narrow the focus.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The excitement is growing here in Windsor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The newlyweds will be met by thousands of their fans.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For a woman who is biracial to be marrying into that family, it represents a real change.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is your NEW DAY. It is Friday, May 18, 6 a.m. here in New York.
Look at the beautiful Alisyn Camerota in that picturesque backdrop of Windsor, England. We hear she is trying to scam an invite to the royal wedding where preparations are in full swing. And who wouldn't want her there?
Good to see you, Alisyn. You look great.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: You, too.
CUOMO: Very important stuff to hear. I was invited, of course, but my duty to you, the people, and the news comes before frivolity.
So here is our starting line. We'll get to Alisyn in one second. President Trump and his allies are stepping up efforts to expose a believed FBI informant who the president alleges spied on his campaign, according to "The Washington Post."
Now, there is so far no evidence of a spy. We'll take you through it, what that would mean, what it would like like, why we don't have proof of it at this point. The FBI is preparing to minimize the fallout, however, because they have concerns that the source's identity may be revealed. Why? Because the man with the almost complete authority to do it is the president, and he wants to out this individual.
We're going to talk about all of this with the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. He's here in the next hour. So the leak of that inappropriate joke about Senator John McCain by a White House aide has triggered changes in the communications office. An official tells CNN the White House is preparing to shrink their communications team.
However, there is still no apology for what was said. And here's a tip about political teams. It's not how many people you have. It's how much faith and loyalty is in that team.
Meanwhile, President Trump acknowledging the uncertain fate of his summit with Kim Jong-un with both carrot and stick. Mr. Trump offering Kim political safeguards, along with new threats if North Korea fails to get rid of nuclear weapons.
So now we get to the event of the morning. Now we get back to Alisyn in beautiful England, looking resplendent and wedding set.
CAMEROTA: Thank you very much, Chris.
I am here in beautiful sunny Windsor. The royal wedding is just 24 hours away. And Britain is buzzing. We've just learned who will walk Meghan Markle down the aisle. It is someone that I, at least, was not expecting. We'll get to all of that breaking news.
And also today, Meghan Markle's mother will meet the queen for the very first time at Windsor Castle, which you see behind me. How will that go? What does that look like? We have all the details, all the color, all the breaking news from Windsor for you throughout NEW DAY all this morning.
And so, Chris, it is all you've been wishing for in terms of what we will be talking about and bringing you this morning.
CUOMO: Well, the obvious downside is that I'm not with you. And I always miss you when we're not together. But I know you wanted to be there, and this is great. Just true or false. True or false, Don Lemon in fancy hat walks down -- Meghan Markle down the aisle? True or false?
CAMEROTA: That's false.
CUOMO: I knew it.
CAMEROTA: But Don Lemon will be with us tomorrow for part of the royal coverage. That part's true.
CUOMO: All right. Well, I knew I had it almost right. I'll talk to you in a little bit.
CAMEROTA: It's close.
CUOMO: All right. We have a lot to cover. What do you say? Let's get after it. We've got CNN's Abby Phillip live at the White House.
Abby, what do you know?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Chris.
Good morning from a much more rainy Washington, D.C., here. For several weeks now, the president's allies in the House have been asking for more information from the Justice Department about this Russia investigation, but the FBI has pushed back, saying that disclosing more information could compromise a confidential source.
And now we're learning from a new report some new information about what could be a really critical flashpoint here between the president and the Justice Department.
PHILLIP (voice-over): President Trump joining in on another effort to discredit the special counsel investigation, tweeting, "Word seems to be coming out that the Obama FBI spied on the Trump campaign with an embedded informant. If so, this is bigger than Watergate."
This unfounded claim coming after Mr. Trump's allies spent days pushing the narrative.
CONWAY: It looks like the Trump campaign may have, in fact, been surveilled. It looks like there was an informant there.
GIULIANI: They had spies in the Trump camp. I'm trying to figure out, you know, who is sitting next to me on the -- on the airplane.
PHILLIP: The president's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, citing this "New York Times" article to back up the claim, which was pushed by conservative writer Andrew McCarthy in this column.
"The Times" reports states that at least one government informant met several Times with Trump campaign advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos during the early stages of the FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Page was suspected of being recruited as a Russian agent, and Papadopoulos's remarks about Russia having political hurt on Hillary Clinton set off the probe.
The report does not say the informant was actually working inside the campaign, but the White House is calling for additional information.
[06:05:06] SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I haven't spoken with him directly about that, but certainly have seen the reports. And if there is any truth to that, it should certainly be looked into.
PHILLIP: "The Washington Post" now reporting that Trump's allies are pushing the FBI to reveal the informant's identity, because they believe outing the source and revealing details about his or her work could help them challenge Mueller's investigation.
"The Post" reports that the FBI is now taking steps to mitigate potential fallout if the informant's identity is revealed. FBI Director Christopher Wray emphasizing the importance of protecting sources on Wednesday.
WRAY: The day that we can't protect human sources is the day the American people start becoming less safe.
PHILLIP: The president's allies in the House continuing to demand details about the probe from the Justice Department. As Mr. Trump ramps up his rhetoric against the special counsel investigation, calling it a disgusting, illegal and unwarranted witch-hunt.
Despite this, Giuliani telling multiple outlets that he's more hopeful about the possibility of a sit-down interview with the president and Mueller.
GIULIANI: We had the first hopeful communication with him last night. I don't want to dismiss it, because I think it was a good-faith attempt to really narrow the focus quite dramatically to the questioning.
PHILLIP: And as all of this continues to unfold, the Mueller probe seems to be swirling around the president. Foreign policy issues are looming in the background. But President Trump is going to be meeting with the U.N. secretary-general today, Chris.
CUOMO: All right. This is a lot of stuff to unpack. Abby Phillip, thank you very much.
Let's bring in CNN political analyst John Avlon and CNN legal analyst and former special assistant to Robert Mueller at the Justice Department Michael Zeldin.
Shall we stipulate for this morning's conversation, gentlemen, let's leave the narrowing of the scope of questions and what that means for the likelihood of an interview to the side. We don't know what's true there. We don't know what it really means. So let's get to the big meat of the morning. Michael Zeldin, let me start with you. Legally, this story in the
Washington reporting, its reach, that goes back to the writer McCarthy reporting that CNN has that had about where the FBI got its information early on about any questions or concerns about the Trump campaign. It's called spying by the president and by his counsel. Do you agree?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's called informants, in law enforcement parlance. And it is bread and butter, blocking and tackling, in the way the law enforcement community works. And so, if they have a live informant who's providing them information who has, in the past, proven to be reliable, then that is normal procedure. It is not a spy. It is not an embedded informant in the campaign as it is trying to be spun.
But it's basic blocking and tackling. And as Chris Wray said in the setup that you portrayed, that anyone who undermines the integrity of the live informants undermines the safety of the American people from a law enforcement standpoint.
CUOMO: All right. So let's do this. Everybody's going to run with these headlines this morning. I think it's a service to the audience. Let's scratch at it a little bit. OK? So here's the pushback on that.
Why are they saying it's fine? Well, they had somebody on the inside, John Avlon. And we don't know who. We don't know how we got them. But McCarthy, the writer, says this makes sense because of what he was told by the co-founder of Fusion GPS, the firm behind the research, the oppo research that resulted in the dossier. He says this.
"Something tells me Glenn Simpson" -- who is that co-founder of that organization -- "did not make a mistake. Something tells me the co- founder of Fusion GPS was dead-on accurate when he testified that Christopher Steele told him the FBI had a human source, i.e. a spy inside the Trump campaign as the 2016 presidential race headed into its stretch run. When he realized how explosive this revelation was, Simpson walked it back. He had perhaps mischaracterized what he'd been told by Steele, the former British spy and principle author of the anticipate-Trump dossier he and Simpson compiled for the Clinton campaign."
Is this the "aha, we know the truth" moment for you?
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's the attempt to create an "aha, truth" moment for people who are already part of the pro-Trump choir, looking for something to hang their hat on. The classic move for this crew is deflect and distract.
Andrew McCarthy is a former prosecutor, worked for Giuliani in the U.S. attorney's office, been a writer for "National Review" for a while, conservative but often credible. That said, you've got to parse language carefully. Something tells me that's not a case you make in a court of law. Now, if someone, and he's got a source and he's covering it up, that may be a different story. But this is based on testimony that Glenn Simpson gave that was
released earlier, based on what he says Chris Steele told him. And as you know, as Mr. Zeldin just pointed out, there is a fundamental difference between an informant and a spy.
[06:10:03] CUOMO: That's not a semantic difference?
AVLON: It is a semantic difference but an important one. It's trying to cast an investigation as a conspiracy.
CUOMO: OK. So now we have another layer on this for you, Michael Zeldin. CNN had some reporting on this, which said that, OK, what Simpson is talking seems to be referring, according to CNN reporting and sources, to the ambassador from Australia who came forward about what he had heard from George Papadopoulos, who was on the satellite level of the Trump universe. And he had concerns. He went to the FBI.
What is your reckoning? Is this that Simpson revealed early on that there was a spy in the house, or that it is more akin to what CNN's reporting was?
ZELDIN: Well, the "New York Times" reporting on this is that the informant is a U.S. citizen. So I don't know if that can be the ambassador from Australia.
I expect that what we have here is a live counterintelligence investigation where the FBI and the intelligence agencies are receiving information from sources that they credit. Maybe the ambassador from Australia is one. This live informant seems to be another. The dossier from Steele is the third.
And so they are gathering information, as they are wont to do in these investigations, collating it and trying to form a, you know, response to it. All of this is normal.
What is abnormal is for the likes of Rudy Julie -- Ruly -- Rudy Giuliani -- he's confusing me. Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan, Devin Nunes to somehow make this into something that it is not, which is a spy in the Trump Organization, a deep-state effort to undermine the Trump campaign, all political fodder but not related in any way, shape or form to the way law enforcement and the intelligence agencies work in matters of counterintelligence.
CUOMO: All right. Cogent theory. But let's push back on it this way. We don't what it is and what it isn't. I'll give Zeldin this. He checks the box off, "Well, how can it be the Australian ambassador if the word from the DOJ side is that it's a" --
AVLON: Solid fact check.
CUOMO: -- "it's a citizen?" OK, fine. Let's build that into what we know. All right. So then this isn't referring to the Australian ambassador. But we don't know what it is and what it isn't.
That story from "The Washington Post," kudos to you guys for doing the reporting. But it's vague. It doesn't help me understand how this originated. It is a key distinction. Whether the government put someone in or somebody came to them with information. That's a huge difference.
AVLON: It's an essential distinction, because one effectively becomes a whistleblower. And the other becomes somebody who's infiltrated into a campaign.
Here's what we do know. First of all, it would be unusual for the FBI to insert somebody in a presidential campaign. It would not necessarily be unusual in the context of maybe any other presidential campaign to have someone come forward and say, "I've got disturbing information."
Reality check step-back is this. We had a presidential campaign in 2016 where both campaigns of the nominees were being investigated by the FBI for very different charges. But that itself is a little stunning. The key difference that impacted the election may have been that the FBI and Jim Comey came forward on one and not on another.
And Trump's campaign manager, the man who becomes national security adviser, key other policy advisers, were all being investigated by the FBI during the campaign. And the American people never knew.
CUOMO: Now, the big concern that will lead this conversation on for now is the president is saying he wants the identity of this person out. That comes with a lot of strings attached. The DOJ is worried about it for reasons that we'll discuss later on. There's more to this. But that's a good first dig on why this story matters so much this morning.
Michael Zeldin, thank you; John Avlon, as always.
Next hour on NEW DAY, we're going to talk -- this is the perfect timing for you guys watching the show. Rudy Giuliani is at the center of all of this speculation. This is somebody who has an interesting dovetail of representing the president on the United States and his interests and knowing the culture of the DOJ better than most people. So it's a tricky position for Rudy. We'll take him through it.
All right. Now, we're following breaking news out of Florida. They have a suspect in custody after firing shots in the lobby of the Trump National Golf Resort in Doral.
CNN has learned the unidentified suspect was yelling, spewing information about the president, had an American flag that he draped over a counter. At this point, a motive is not clear. Authorities say it does not appear to be terrorism. But the investigation very much in its early stages. No definitive word on injuries.
OK. Now for the bright spot of the morning. Let's get to Alisyn, who is literally shining in the sun there in England. I know you're excited. I miss you. But this is worth it. This is an event for a lifetime.
CAMEROTA: I miss you, too. But this is happy news. And it's really nice to be able to report on love and togetherness and coupling and happy news. Because in just 24 hours now, the big event will happen here at the castle that you see behind me, the royal wedding.
[06:15:06] It is a real-life fairy tale, and we have had some breaking news in just the past hour. We now know who will walk Meghan Markle down the aisle. It will not be her mother, as so many people had predicted, but rather Prince Charles, Harry's father. And he will give the bride away.
Kensington Palace made that announcement this morning just one day after Meghan Markle confirmed that her father would not be there in order to focus on his health back home here in the states.
We've also learned that Prince Harry's grandfather, Prince Philip, will be at the wedding. That's less than two months after he had some hip surgery. And Meghan Markle's mother, Doria Ragland, will have tea today with the queen at Windsor Castle. This will be their first ever meeting. So we need to know how that will go, what that protocol looks like.
Doria Ragland is the mom's name. She's already been introduced to some of the royals, including Prince William and Kate Middleton and their children, George and Charlotte.
Now, the BBC is reporting that Markle will not have a maid of honor, because she apparently did not want to have to choose between her closest friends. That can be a very tough choice. And there's so much speculation, as well, about her dress. What will she be wearing? As you know, she's sort of a fashion leader. The BBC is reporting that it will be designed by the British-based Ralph and Russo. That's the odds-on favorite, because they designed the very stunning semi- sheer gown that Meghan wore in her engagement photos that you see on your screen.
So we have a lot of breaking news. There will be more news coming in throughout the course of the program, Chris, and we will bring it to you instantaneously as soon as we have it.
CUOMO: Ralph Russo sounds like someone who's related to one or both of us.
CAMEROTA: It does. I do have Russo family members, yes.
CUOMO: All right, Alisyn. We'll check back with you in just a little bit.
All right. So back here President Trump says he's not sure if the Singapore summit is going to actually happen. But he is offering North Korea's leader some assurances. What are they? There's a little bit of carrot, and there's a little bit of stick. Next.
[06:21:04] CUOMO: All right. So here's the latest on the North Korean drama. President Trump downplaying any concerns as he does plan to sit down with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un next month. And he says nothing has changed heading into the summit in Singapore, despite the rogue regime's demand that the U.S. end its joint military drills with South Korea. The president is warning Kim, however, that he should make a deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: If you look at that model with Gadhafi, that was a total decimation. We went in there to beat him. Now, that model would take place if we don't make a deal, most likely. But if we make a deal, I think Kim Jong-un is going to be very, very happy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Joining us now, CNN political analyst John Avlon; and Gordon Chang, "Daily Beast" columnist and author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World."
All right. First, state of play, John Avlon. Where are we? Are there concerns? Is this a legitimate threat by North Korea? It doesn't seem to have shaken President Trump in any way in terms of the possibilities.
AVLON: This is sort of typical brinksmanship and sword rattling by North Korea. This is what they do. It's a brushback pitch designed to sort of show that, you know, they're in control. They were disturbed by Bolton's comments last weekend on TV. And you know, they're just -- this increases their ante in their mind. And I think the administration is treating it as just that. You know, assuming it's going forward until they know definitively otherwise.
CUOMO: All right. So this was Chang's counsel early on, which is don't -- President Trump specifically, don't react too much to what North Korea does. This is how it goes. Don't play their game. Fine.
Then he says, "And let me talk to you about the Libya model." That's cuing off of senior advisor on these matters, John Bolton, said. That we're looking at the Libya model as something that may reflect the future with North Korea. Trump says, "No, we're not looking at the Libya model." Discuss.
GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN": Yes. They're using the same phrase, Libya model. But they mean different things.
When John Bolton said that at the end of April, he was saying, look, the North Koreans unload all their nukes, all their missiles, up front. And then we give them benefits. That was the Libya model. And that's actually what did happen. You know, Gadhafi gave up the elements of his centrifuge program.
When Trump used that phrase "Libya model," he was talking about the killing of a dictator, essentially getting rid of Gadhafi. Two different things. But you know, now of course, people are starting to put the two together.
I actually think the North Koreans weren't really that upset about Bolton's comments. Because remember, they were the end of April, Chris. And then you have them releasing the three detainees last week. Well, if they were really upset about Bolton, then they wouldn't have let the Americans go.
But the North Koreans, as John said, they're using it as an excuse, and they want a brushback pitch. And that's what they did.
CUOMO: Do you think that the distinctions that are being drawn between the Bolton Libya model and the Trump Libya model are different?
AVLON: Yes. I mean, the president doesn't seem to know which Libya model his national security advisor is talking about. And when Kim hears Libya model, he's -- you know, he's --
CUOMO: He's thinking dead Gadhafi in the back of a pickup truck.
AVLON: In a pickup truck because he didn't have nukes to secure his place in power.
Look, what's clear, what's continuous between the two is that the administration is offering a series of carrot and sticks. Big carrot, big stick. If you denuclearize -- what Trump is saying is basically, "We will be your protector and you will become prosperous."
CUOMO: Why would North Korea give it all up up front when that's their only --?
AVLON: That is clearly not their interest.
CHANG: They wouldn't do it except if Kim felt the choice was if I don't give up my nukes, I'm going to die anyway. That could actually happen if President Trump were to tighten the sanctions on North Korea, which was a lot of room to do and go after big power sponsors, Russia and China.
You know, he could be at the point where he says, "Look, this is just untenable." And if he doesn't have money, he's not going to be able to give gifts to his senior regime elements. He's not going to be able to --
CUOMO: They would turn on him. This isn't a "give us the nukes or we will kill you."
CUOMO: This is a "your own people may turn on you from the squeeze."
[06:25:08] CHANG: Right. And also, the way that President Trump can -- he can do that in a number of ways. One of them is that he puts the pressure on China, and China says to the North Korean regime, "Look, we no longer support the weapons program. We no longer support Kim." If that happened, you would see North Koreans diplomats around the world defect within a day.
CUOMO: A lot of "ifs." I have a question here that we haven't discussed yet, or at least if we have, I missed it. So the theory of the case is you have to get rid of your stuff. You have to ship it out. To where? Who takes this type of material? Who do we trust to have it? You know, how are we not moving a problem somewhere else? I've never understood this when it happens in other scenarios. What do we know?
CHANG: We know what happened in Libya. And the centrifuge program that Libya had, which wasn't a really big centrifuge program, it ended up in Oakridge, Tennessee. And there is some talk that if North Korea were to give up its nukes, some of them would go to France. They'd dismantle them there. But you know, you can go to anywhere --
CUOMO: Isn't that kind of something to be worried about, you know, where they send them? What if they send them to Pakistan? You know, that would be bad.
AVLON: That would not happen, Chris.
CUOMO: So there's going to be a closed set of options of where they can go that the North Koreans would have to agree to.
So there's really two asks in one. You've got to get rid of your stuff, and you have to agree where it goes.
AVLON: Implicit in getting rid of them is figuring out where it goes, of course. I think what is significant, though, is that Trump's tough talk and his threats really not only change the calculus in the region of the peninsula, but I think there's an argument that they've gotten inside Kim's head. They're going to try to exploit that as much as they can, because he's a young man.
CUOMO: I hear you. I'm asking that question because I've had people -- I've had sources relay to me that that is actually a source of concern for them. Getting them to give up nukes is a problem. Figuring out where they go will also be a problem.
Gordon, you're great.
John Avlon, thank you once again.
Alisyn, to you.
CAMEROTA: Chris, just look at this beautiful setting behind me. An American woman is about to become part of a royal fairy tale. So we have breaking news about the royal wedding when we come right back.