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Trump Repeats Claims of Spying; Volcano Lava Threatens Power Plant; Rockets Revive Series; Last Night's Primary Results. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired May 23, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Work every day trying to uphold the rule of law, criminals.

Now, look, the president is very good at two things. The first of which being, sucking the oxygen out of the room and focusing attention and redirecting to other issues. And that's what we're seeing here. Obviously there's this focus on a collusion investigation, possible collusion with Russia. But let's redirect attention to something else. It's the investigators who are the ones who are corrupt.

And the problem with that, Chris, is that, you know, the response to this does not fit in a tweet. It's easy for the president to say they're spying on me, they're spies, its spygate. That's stuff that, you know, maybe folks will lap up. But it's very hard to have a sober discussion to refute those points without, you know, taking to Twitter. There was no spy. In order to say someone's a spy, that conjures up images of, you know, people skulking around in the shadows with questionable motives. What may have happened here was a confidential informant working under the auspices of a predicated counter intelligence investigation was working to mitigate a national security threat. A big difference.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, or it's a semantic difference.

CAMPBELL: That's right.

CUOMO: And people will say, look, you had somebody trying to get on the inside with Trump people. And if there's no deep state, why are all these people at the top of the DOJ and the FBI going down and being removed the same people who are involved with the Clinton probe and the Trump probe. How do you explain that?

CAMPBELL: Well, that's an easy explanation. Two fold. First of all, with respect to, you know, McCabe and Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, the IG is looking into whether there was malfeasance. And that's a -- that's a credible argument to make. Were these people acting inappropriately. To say that they were politically charged and influencing an investigation, that is, I think, a bridge too far.

But if you look at other people who left, I mean that typically happens when you have a changeover at the top of a directorship. You'll have a new chief of staff. You'll have a new, you know, general counsels and the like. So to conflate all that together as far as, you know, these people are leaving, there's a mass exodus, so there some be -- there must be something sinister going on here, again, it's part of this campaign to discredit.

And, you know, what's interesting, Chris, to me, and this is what I hope folks will realize, for anyone out there who may be doubting that, you know, maybe there is something amiss over at the FBI, maybe something's going on, this notion that the president and his folks are putting out that, you know, the FBI was politically going after his campaign with a spy, you would have to believe that folks within the FBI were corrupt and the reason why we know that's not the case is because look at what's happened here. We have people under Obama who were appointed, who started the investigation and who approved this informant now convincing people appointed by Donald Trump to defend the investigation and to defend the use of an informant. So to say that, you know, somehow they were all colluding together, it's just insanity.

CUOMO: Well, it is until it isn't, right? I mean this is all about what can be proven. You know, the expression in the law is you only know what you show.

CAMPBELL: That's right.

CUOMO: When it comes to politics and Twitter, the president benefits from a fact gap. He can call it spygate. That will resonate. People will use it has a hashtag. He doesn't have any proof for it, even though he could pick up the phone and have dispositive proof. People have to remember that. The president of the United States has complete authority. They'd say, well, he's interfering. He's already interfering. You know, so, it doesn't matter. You know, he's allowed to interfere many would argue, even if it is an investigation into him.

Let me ask you --

CAMPBELL: Well, that's the problem, though, Chris --

CUOMO: Go ahead, Josh.

CAMPBELL: Is, you know, we're going to get numb to all of that. That's the thing. You know, when I was looking at these tweets that came through, I thought, OK, here we go again. But, you know, the fact that you have the president of the United States calling the people in law enforcement criminals --


CAMPBELL: We cannot get numb to that. That cannot be OK.

CUOMO: Yes, well, I -- also I don't think it's numbing at all. I mean because of the power of the person who is tweeting. This is no longer just some reality TV show guy who is very entertaining. He has the most power of anyone probably in the world.

CAMPBELL: He does and we should want him to succeed. We should want that office to succeed and to represent the United States of America in a dignified way.

CUOMO: Right.

CAMPBELL: My concern is I think that, you know, he's being ill- informed by people around him. You know, we saw the story that came out as far as these advisers who were, you know, kind of getting together to put a little bit of influence on him as far as with respect to what he should do with Rosenstein. I don't think he's getting the counsel that he should. And that should be concerning because we need that office to succeed.

CUOMO: Well, the counsel that you take and the counsel that you get are two very different things. And I have to be honest, one of the ironies here is, you know, I've spent 15 years taking a look at what you guys do at the FBI and the DOJ and applying scrutiny when due and we've always been pushed back by politicians saying don't asale (ph) the democratic institutions of the government, don't muck rate (ph), don't do those kinds of things, you hurt the administration of justice. And now we have the president of the United States doing the same.

What kind of information do you think they will see tomorrow?

CAMPBELL: That is the question, Chris. And as we talk about this potential showdown, as its been billed, where you have, you know, these two competing factions. You have a House Intelligence Committee, you know, led by Devin Nunes, who has, you know, been accused of politicizing the intelligence process, and you have those who are holding the line at the FBI and DOJ who are trying to allow Bob Mueller to do his job and to look into these, you know, these allegations that the IG is investigating.

The question will be, what do they turn over and do they go so far as to get into the details of the sources and methods? That should be very concerning for us. Whatever they do, I -- here's what I expect, Chris, I don't think Devin Nunes and Trey Gowdy are going to walk out of that meeting and walk to the microphones and say, we are completely satisfied, thank you so much for that briefing. That's just not the way it's happened.

[08:35:05] If you look at this press conference yesterday, with now, you know, folks in Congress calling for another special counsel, which is, you know, their right to do, I don't think anyone is going to be satisfied until the FBI or the IG and the Department of Justice come out and say there was absolutely no malfeasance on the part of the White House. Which, you know, obviously, we don't -- we don't know.

CUOMO: Well, I'll tell you what, and that is an exercise of irrational optimism because my concern is that all this stink that's getting thrown around and all the politicizing of it only guarantees one outcome, which is, when this report comes out, if it does, people are only going to believe what they want.

Josh Campbell --

CAMPBELL: That's true. That's right. And can I just say, again, Chris, I mean it is important to hold the FBI and the DOJ to account. We have to have a free press. We have to have an inspector general. We have to have Congress. The problem is, is that Congress is politicizing this. So if they get back to -- go back to before, the way it's been, where you had a nonpartisan view to intelligence, I think that's the way to do it. We have to get back to that point.

CUOMO: Josh Campbell, thank you very much.


CAMPBELL: Thanks, Chris.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, so a man gets hit by a flaming ball of volcanic rock, a lava bomb, and he lives to tell his tale.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just took my leg out and threw me against the wall. It was the most extreme force I've ever felt in my life.


CAMEROTA: All right, we have much more for you from the volcano zone in Hawaii, next.


[08:40:24] CAMEROTA: All right, so people in Hawaii's big island are being warned to prepare for the long haul. Again, these are live pictures on your screen. This isn't a loop of video that we've been playing for days. This is what it looks like at this hour.

This is the Kilauea volcano. It continues to erupt. Scientists say they do not know when it will stop spewing these rivers of lava. Hawaii County is handing out breathing masks to protect people from volcanic ash.

There's also the constant danger from the so-called lava bombs. And CNN's Scott McLean knows all about these. He is live in Hawaii with the latest.

What's happening, Scott?


So the biggest threat right now, or at least the biggest thing that is on people's minds, is that geothermal power plant. Officials made quite clear yesterday, though, that the site is secure, at least for right now. Those geothermal wells, they've managed to pour cold water into them and the lava is still more than a mile away. So at least for now things are safe in that department.

Some of these fissures continue to flare-up spewing a massive amount of lava into the air. Others are starting to die down. Like the fissure, the only fissure to cause an injury since Kilauea started erupting. The person injured was Darryl Clinton. He was actually hit by a lava bomb in the leg. A force so great that it knocked him off of his feet. The lava bomb was so hot that it actually started his porch on fire.

We caught up with him in the hospital yesterday. He is in surprisingly good spirits considering the fact that he has a metal rod in his leg. He will likely need more surgery on top of the two that he's had already. But the bottom line is, he knows that he's lucky. Listen.


MCLEAN: I wonder if you recognize the fact that had this have hit you somewhere else, you might -- you might be dead?

DARRYL CLINTON, HIT BY LAVA BOMB: Yes, I've thought about it a couple times and it just scares me to think about it. It could've also missed me and went between my legs too. I think about that more. Wouldn't that have been nice?


MCLEAN: The glass is always half full.

Now, how long is this going to go on for, Alisyn? That's the question that everyone's asking. And yesterday geologist said they don't know. They're not going to try to predict it down to the day. They're just saying that it's showing no signs of slowing and they are taking things day by day.

CUOMO: All right, Scott, thank you very much. Be safe. We'll stay on it.

Now, here's a natural situation of a very different degree, but it's interesting because of where it happened.

A sinkhole opened up on the North Lawn of the White House just steps from the briefing room. It's said to be growing, metaphor. The National Park Service bringing in experts to determine a fix. News of a White House sinkhole was swallowed up on Twitter, leading some inspired tweets like these. The swamp fights back. Sinkhole 2020. And, please let it be the biggest and best sinkhole, a beautiful sinkhole.

Strangely enough, it opened up exactly one year after a 16 foot sinkhole appeared in front of Mar-a-Lago.

CAMEROTA: Coincidence? Perhaps not.

CUOMO: Deep state.

CAMEROTA: Listen to this. They left him five notices. They even gave him a cash offer, but 30-year-old Michael Rotundo (ph) did not get the message to move out. So his parents, who were desperate, Christina and Michael, took him to court. Michael argues that he's not a burden, though he's been living rent-free, saying that he's not provided with laundry or food at his family's upstate New York digs. Michael insists he should be given six months' notice to move out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want a, you know, a reasonable amount of time to vacate with the consideration of the fact that I was not really prepared to support myself at the time where I was served these notices.


CAMEROTA: How about 30 years reasonable time? In the end, the judge granted the eviction. After court Michael said he plans to appeal the case and he finds the ruling ridiculous. Wow.

CUOMO: I don't -- I can't really defend the guy. I'm trying. I'm thinking about it right now.

CAMEROTA: I know, it's hard. It's hard.

CUOMO: You know, where I grew up, you did have a lot of guys live --

CAMEROTA: You get out.

CUOMO: Well, you had a lot of guys living at home.

CAMEROTA: Oh, Zambonis (ph)? Zambonis in Italian.

CUOMO: You know, but, it's not easy to defend him, you know? You got to -- at some point you've got to get out there, brother, and just do your own thing, you know?

CAMEROTA: I mean his poor parents, taking your son to court, that can't be pleasant.

CUOMO: Nope, or cheap.

All right, prior to last night, the Houston Rockets had never won a playoff game at Golden State. Meanwhile, the Warriors had won an NBA record 16 straight playoff games at home. And we're telling you that because you know it changed.

[08:45:05] Lindsay Czarniak has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

How did it change?

LINDSAY CZARNIAK, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, a big factor is what you've been asking about, Chris Paul, right, because we know that he'd been dealing with a little bit of an injury. It's been an injury to his right foot. But last night he and the Rockets were commit to making up for that embarrassing 41 points loss they suffered in game three.

This "Bleacher Report" brought to you by Ford, going further so you can.

So, James Harden, one of Paul's teammates, saying that his Rockets had to keep fighting. He came into this game on a mission not to let his team give up. Here is why. Look at this. Nasty one-handed dunk and the foul he had there over Draymond Green. Look at that. He led the way with 30 points.

Steph Curry, meanwhile, caught fire like he does. He scored 18 points in the third quarter. He did his little shimmy shake dance there that he does.

But Chris Paul, he had a night of his own. He put up 27 points and also Houston's defense really rose to the occasion. The Warriors were held to just 12 points in the fourth quarter as the Rockets win on the road to even the series. And an almost emotional Chris Paul acknowledged the power of sports to help heal the Houston community after this game.


CHRIS PAUL, HOUSTON ROCKETS: Our city's been through a tough time with the things at Santa Fe, but -- man, I don't know, hopefully basketball can be a way that people can come and ease their minds if only for a second. So, you know, Houston, we -- we coming home.


CZARNIAK: So game five in this series is Thursday. Meanwhile, game five of the Eastern Conference finals tonight. That series also tied at two games apiece.

CUOMO: Huge game tonight.


CUOMO: Huge.

CZARNIAK: Monster. Who gets it?

CUOMO: Celtics. We'll see. What do I know?

CZARNIAK: We disagree. All right.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, Lindsay.

CUOMO: All right, how about "The Bottom Line," next?

CAMEROTA: Let's do it.

CUOMO: Done.


[08:50:54] CAMEROTA: The results are in from last night's primaries and progressive women have scored very big in some southern states.

CNN's senior political analyst Ron Brownstein is here with "The Bottom Line."


CAMEROTA: Is the future female?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, I think for the Democrats in 2018 it sure looks that way. You know, in a year where the gender gap could be more significant than we have seen in most elections over the past several decades given the gap in approval of Trump between men and women, Democrats are turning to women. I mean, in Georgia, the first female African-American nominee for governor of a major party, Stacey Abrams, Lupe Valdez the gubernatorial nominee in Texas, and in three key House races, one in Kentucky, two in Texas, women, again, in about 2,000 -- about two-thirds of the races, Democratic primaries this year where there has not been an incumbent and there's been a woman running against a man, the woman has won.

CUOMO: Let me ask you something. We have Nancy Pelosi tonight town hall down there in D.C. The national ballot has Democrats at only plus three right now.


CUOMO: You don't have to be Ron Brownstein to know that that is historically low going into a midterm with someone who is as polarizing as this president.


CUOMO: How do you explain it? What is the challenge for her?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think there are a couple things. I mean, first, the generic ballot is somewhat volatile. But what you have seen, I think, is what the movement among Republican elected officials over the past year -- we've talked about it many times, are kind of locking arms around President Trump despite all their reservations about his behavior.

I think you're seeing something of the same phenomenon among the Republican -- usual Republican electoral coalition. And the -- particularly among the blue collar white women and college educated white men, two groups that usually vote Republican for Congress but have been ambivalent about Trump, they are drifting back toward Republican candidates. And I think that creates a clear and present danger for Democrats.

Now, there is still enormous energy on the Democratic side. And I think one of the big debates in the Democratic Party and which you see reflected in these primaries is, is the path to victory in November, primarily in trying to lure across the line those ambivalent usually Republican leaning voters -- and you do that with more centrist nominees -- or is it to mobilize their new coalition of minority voters, millennials and white collar whites with, you know, kind of boldly progressive candidates, as they would say. And you saw that play out in Georgia. In Georgia they picked Stacey Abrams, the candidate who was kind of the mobilization advocate, in other places like the Texas seven House seat outside of Houston they picked the more centrist candidate. So we're going to see a mix of both strategies on the ballot for Democrats this fall.

CAMEROTA: Ron, on tax -- on Election Day, does it often come -- does it always come down to pocketbook issues? And by President Trump saying yesterday, oh, I'm going to propose a new tax cut before the midterms, is that what this election will be decided on?

BROWNSTEIN: I don't think so. I mean I think, in fact, we have moved over the past 25 years very much sort of politics is more about values than about interest, more about culture than economics. And, in fact, the greatest threat to Republicans this fall in the House are the places that are doing best, I mean kind of thriving white collar suburbs around the major metro areas where they have been holding on to seats in the suburbs of Philadelphia or in New Jersey or in Orange County, California, Minneapolis, Chicago. Democrats are still really behind the eight ball in the more struggling small town and rural blue collar communities where Trump has been so strong.

I think in many ways the question is whether Democrats can extend beyond the white collar places where they have the best chance, largely because college educated white women have moved so sharply away from President Trump and are now polling better than they have at any point in the last 25 years for Democrats in the generic ballot. Can they go beyond that and win some, not a large amount, but even some of the blue collar small town rural districts that have, you know, consolidated Republicans in the past decade. If they can do that, they have a much better chance of winning the House.

[08:55:01] CUOMO: The professor, Ron Brownstein, thank you very much.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you, guys.

CUOMO: So are you a -- wow, it's already Wednesday, or a, uh, it's only Wednesday?

CAMEROTA: You know, today, I'm like, wow, it's already Wednesday. Every week is different. But this week, wow, Wednesday, how'd this happen?

CUOMO: Good, I like that. That's a good q. And how about some nice "Good Stuff" then for hump day? We have it, next.


CUOMO: "Good Stuff."

Texas teenager helping out a woman in need. This video popped up on the Internet, has gone viral. What you see, Louis Jordan (ph) using his umbrella to shield a dehydrated woman from the sun until the ambulance got there. Sure enough, they became fast friends.


LOUIS JORDAN: Well, we laughed, joked. She had -- she's in a book club. Come to find out, she likes pork chops. I owe her some stuffed pork chops.


CAMEROTA: Why go out of his way to help a stranger. Louis says this.


JORDAN: I pray that God allows -- allowed me to be used every day. I've been down and out so much, man.


CUOMO: Regular person doing something extraordinary. That's "The Good Stuff."

CAMEROTA: Who doesn't bond over pork chops?


CAMEROTA: I find them to be a great --

CUOMO: Had one for dinner last night.

[09:00:00] CAMEROTA: You did?

CUOMO: Uh-huh.

CAMEROTA: Did you bring any extra here for breakfast?

CUOMO: There isn't -- do I look like there's ever extra?

CAMEROTA: Good point. There's no leftovers here.

CUOMO: There's not.

CAMEROTA: Time for CNN "NEWSROOM" with John Berman and Poppy Harlow.