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Trump Lawyer Getting Look Inside Russia Investigation?; Morgan Freeman Accused of Sexual Harassment; North Korea Nuclear Summit Falls Apart. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired May 24, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Thankfully, something that hasn't been seen in recent years, but it does remind everyone that, in the early months after 9/11, small groups of U.S. troops were called upon to do things that the rest of us probably cannot even imagine -- Brooke.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Such an important reminder to us, especially all these years later.
Barbara, thank you.
We continue on. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
We have some breaking news for you right now, that that highly anticipated meeting between President Trump and the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, is now scrapped, at least for the time being.
The president torpedoing this potentially historic moment with a single-page letter.
And, in part, it reads like this: "Based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent letter, I feel it is inappropriate at this time to have this long-planned meeting."
We're told that the final straw here was when a North Korean official actually called the vice president, as in Mike Pence, a political dummy, quoting North Korea, and threatened a nuclear showdown.
But the president's letter appeared to keep that door slightly open to North Korea, as did his comments earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Based on the recent statement of North Korea, I have decided to terminate the planned summit in Singapore on June 12.
While many things can happen, and a great opportunity lies ahead, potentially, I believe that this is a tremendous setback for North Korea and indeed a setback for the world.
A lot of things can happen, including the fact that perhaps -- and we'd wait -- it's possible that the existing summit could take place or a summit at some later date.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: All of this happening as foreign journalists, including our own CNN correspondent Will Ripley, were deep in North Korea and had just witnessed this apparent dismantling of a remote nuclear test site.
Will calling into CNN just moments after reading the letter from Trump to the North Korean officials who accompanied those journalists.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, we were sitting around the table, and I got the phone call and read out the letter from President Trump.
And I can tell you there was just a real sense of shock amongst the people that I was sitting with, the North Korean officials. They didn't give any official comment, but immediately they got up and left and are now on the phone kind of relaying the news up to the top.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let's go to Pam Brown. She's our senior White House correspondent there.
And, Pam, it seems like the president still kind of wants to keep the door open.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Certainly, he does, and he is keeping that door open today by saying the summit could still happen down the road, even though it's not going to happen on June 12, with the president canceling that summit today after spending the morning on the phone with some top administration officials, including Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, Mike Pence, his vice president, and John Bolton, his national security adviser.
They all agreed that the best step right now is to cancel the summit, in the wake of that statement from North Korea yesterday calling the vice president a political dummy for his remarks on FOX News about the Libyan model.
An administration official saying that that was really the final straw. The president was infuriated about that. But make no mistake, Brooke, things began to sour really about a week ago -- or a little a week ago, when North Korea released that surprise statement criticizing the United States for asking it to disarm, criticizing John Bolton as well for his comments on the Libya model about Moammar Gadhafi, who was overthrown and killed after disarming.
And so, in some ways, it is not a surprise that it has come to this, because you even saw the president foreshadow that the summit may not happen on June 12 earlier this week, when he brought it up just before his meeting with the president of South Korea.
He said that, look, it may not happen on June 12, but it could happen down the road. So, we are, Brooke, this historic summit called off for now. The president sending this letter to Kim Jong-un today.
And it's really interesting. If you read through the letter, at one point, he boasts about the nuclear prowess of the United States. He says, "You talk about nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful, that I pray to good that they will never have to be used."
And then later on in that letter, Brooke, he invites Kim Jong-un to call or to write him. So, we will have to wait and see what happens.
But what is clear here, what is clear here, Brooke, is that the president didn't want to be in a position where Kim Jong-un was the one to call off the summit first.
BALDWIN: He wanted to be the first, being the president of the United States. Pamela Brown, thank you.
Let's get into this a little bit more.
With me, Rear Admiral John Kirby, CNN military and diplomatic analyst, retired and former Pentagon and State Department spokesman. Also, Adam Mount, he is a senior fellow for the Federation American of Scientists and former director of the North Korea Task Force at the Council on Foreign Relations.
So, gentlemen, welcome.
And let's first -- Pam was just talking about this letter from Trump to Kim.
And so, Admiral, to you first. When you look at the language, it's word from Trump like referring to Kim as his excellency and I greatly appreciate your time and wonderful dialogue.
It doesn't sound like Trump language. Do you think that this is all part of a play to leave that door open?
JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Yes, I do.
And the language is very soft and squishy in that regard and almost -- almost complementary to a ridiculous degree. And I think it's because he wants to be able to preserve some flexibility.
And good on him for that. I mean, I think that makes sense. I was struck by what he said today, that even the existing summit could happen or a summit at future date. So, it's almost as if he was leaving the door open to June 12 actually still happening.
BALDWIN: Seems like -- seemed like he was. Maybe that's like wishful thinking, because it seemed like he really wanted this thing to happen.
But maybe the last straw was the fact that North Korea referred to Mike Pence as a political dummy. So, Adam, that insult happened after Pence had brought up what
happened to Moammar Gadhafi and Libya. And we saw how North Korea reacted to that when John Bolton first brought that up. So, why would the vice president go there? Do you think at all that that was sabotage?
ADAM MOUNT, FEDERATION AMERICAN OF SCIENTISTS: Well, the United States' administration has been pushing this very hard line for several months now.
It is clear that they were trying to push for immediate denuclearization and still keep the threat of war hanging over North Korea's head. The Libya analogy was never going to be helpful. It's not appropriate to North Korea. And it may have been...
BALDWIN: But they had to have known that.
MOUNT: I think that's plausible.
John Bolton has been pushing the Libya analogy for several years. I think they know it's deliberately inflammatory and not helpful and not conducive to getting the summit to happen on productive terms.
BALDWIN: At the end of the day, though, isn't it the U.S. who had the most to lose, Admiral? If this summit -- if Trump had gone all the way to Singapore and Kim was there, and it turned out to be this disaster, it would be this global embarrassment for the U.S.
Meantime, what would North Korea have to lose?
KIRBY: I don't know that the U.S. would be the one with the most to lose. I think, obviously, the region certainly would lose and can still potentially lose if we don't get a peaceable solution. And, of course, the world actually loses here.
So, I don't think it's just the U.S. or Donald Trump saving face.
BALDWIN: You don't.
KIRBY: But I think what -- but, Brooke, I think what they had been doing up until recently was the right thing, which was keeping expectations low for this.
Yes, it was a summit, but they weren't predicting world peace as a result of it or complete denuclearization. And then they started to harden right around the time John Bolton became national security adviser. Their positions began to get more stringent, more tough.
They did want real tangible outcomes as a result of this. And I think that's when things started to go off the rails.
BALDWIN: The big question mark is how North Korea reacts to all of this, Adam. I realize it's the middle of the night there. We also realize that they -- and I'm using air quotes -- destroyed their nuclear test sites with all those journalists there to witness the whole thing. How do they -- do they spin this? Do they say, well, we were in on
trying to do this or destroying our nuclear tests sites, or do they come down with their colorful language?
MOUNT: Yes, it absolutely does give North Korea several options.
As long as the summit's not on, North Korea is free from having to make the hard choice about whether to limit its nuclear and missile programs and behave more responsibly. What they can say now to China is, look, we tried our best, there's no point in keeping sanctions on.
They have declared to the rest of the world that they're a responsible and sophisticated nuclear power. They have done some damage to the U.S.-South Korea alliance.
So, the fact that Donald Trump walked away from this summit first, I think, was a miscalculation and allows North Korea to meet its objectives. It's all upside for Pyongyang right now.
BALDWIN: Adam Mount and Admiral Kirby, thank you both so much on that.
We do have some breaking news on Capitol Hill, where this bipartisan group of lawmakers is being briefed right this very moment about President Trump's claims that the spy, that the FBI placed a spy in his campaign.
We have details on a surprise guest who showed up to that briefing.
Also ahead, a CNN exclusive -- several women coming forward to accuse Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior.
Also ahead, President Trump suggesting NFL players who don't want to stand for the national anthem should maybe leave the country, this after the NFL decided to force them to face a fine or stay inside the locker room.
We're back in a moment.
BALDWIN: We're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
Let's get to today's back-to-back briefings based upon this whole conspiracy theory that the president keeps peddling that an FBI spy -- his word -- infiltrated his campaign.
These top leaders in Congress just spoke with top intelligence leaders to get the lowdown on the confidential source the FBI used to make contacts with Trump campaign members. It was to investigate Russian meddling in the U.S. election.
But President Trump continues to twist the use of the source, claiming the FBI deployed the -- quote -- "spy" to damage his campaign. And he has cited absolutely zero proof of that.
The first briefing of the day happened at noon. And, initially, it included no Democrats, but changes were made, responding to the outcry over the appearance of partisanship.
So, let's start there on Capitol Hill with our senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju, who is outside that second briefing, which I believe is winding down.
You have seen a number of people already leaving. What's the word on what's happening there?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it probably is winding down.
We just saw the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, leave just moments ago. And then two White House officials left about 20 minutes or so into briefing. That was John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, as well as Emmet Flood, the White House lawyer who actually works on the Russia investigation and was not expected to be at this briefing, attended the start of this briefing and, as we were told, also attended the start of the Justice Department's briefing that happened earlier today with just a handful of members.
And that included Devin Nunes, the chairman the House Intelligence Committee, who has really been pushing this issue, Trey Gowdy also, the Republican. Paul Ryan, the House speaker, declined to come to this meeting because of a conflict in his schedule, instead went to an earlier meeting.
And the late add was Adam Schiff. The top Democrat on the committee also attended the briefing. No explanation why -- about why Emmet Flood has -- was at this meeting, nothing from the Justice Department, and nothing from the White House.
And, of course, Brooke, this all is about whether or not there is this spy, as the president has alleged, who was implanted in his campaign as part of a -- what he calls the biggest conspiracy, the biggest scandal potentially in political history, without presenting evidence to that fact.
Now, I had a chance to ask Paul Ryan earlier today about whether or not it was OK for the president to make that allegation with presenting that evidence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Is it appropriate for the president to float the notion that there may have been spies implanted in his campaign, and this could be the biggest political scandal history, without having any evidence to support that notion?
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Look, we know Russian meddled in our election. We know that there was an effort to get to the bottom of that.
And we're going to find out how all that took place. A lot of this is classified, so I'm just going to leave it at that. We're going to have more readings on just this today.
RAJU: Do you honestly believe that there were spies?
RYAN: I don't know the answer to that question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: So, it's not clear whether or not they were shown anything to substantiate the president's charge.
Paul Ryan did put out a statement after attending that earlier briefing, but made no mention about this, said it was classified, but touted the need for congressional oversight over the intelligence agencies.
And Mitch McConnell, as he left, also did not answer any questions about whether or not there was actually anything to support the president's charge here.
But this all happening, this briefing, as a result of the president intervening, raising concerns about a possible confidential source, and now the White House's involvement in this briefing raising questions as well about why not just John Kelly, but also Emmet Flood, the lawyer involved with this Russia investigation, was involved at all.
We will wait to hear an explanation on that, but still a lot of questions. As members start to trickle, we will get to see what they actually heard, if they saw any documents in a classified setting, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Hang tight. We will see if they -- if answer any of your questions. Manu Raju, thank you so much there in Washington.
Let's stay on this.
I have with me now CNN law enforcement analyst Josh Campbell, a former FBI supervisory special agent. And former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers is with us. She's now a lecturer at Columbia Law School.
So, great to have both of you all on.
And, Jennifer, let me actually start with you on and the Emmet Flood news that Manu was just talking about this, this White House lawyer. He's really focused on the Russia investigation. He -- surprise -- shows up at this briefing. Why?
JENNIFER RODGERS, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, this, to me, really shows what is going on with the president's interference in this in the first place, right?
The president is under criminal investigation. He's been told he's a subject. So under no circumstances should he be a part or anyone representing him be part of a meeting where that investigation is discussed. That is just entirely inappropriate.
The president technically may have a role in trying to broker congressional oversight of the Department of Justice, which is why originally them getting involved maybe wasn't so terrible, if you consider it from that angle.
But the president's personal lawyer on the Russia investigation being there just shows me that that's not what this about. This was about getting information about the investigation, which is something a criminal defendant should not have.
BALDWIN: You want to jump in on that before I ask you about Comey?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, I mean, that's been the question here. What is that person doing there?
And even if they're not there for some sinister motive, there's a perception issue. Now is the time where we have to be looking and saying even -- even if we didn't do anything wrong, if we are perceived to be doing wrong, that causes questions and doubts in the minds of the American people.
We need to get past the partisanship. We need to get past all of this nonsense. And it doesn't help to now be sending a conflicted party into a meeting where highly classified intelligence may have been discussed.
BALDWIN: I have to say, I had Jack Quinn sitting in that seat last hour, former White House counsel for Bill Clinton. And he said, I would have wanted to be there. Absolutely appropriate.
I want to ask you about a guy you used to work with, James Comey. Trump obviously continues to attack intelligence institutions. This is what he said about the man he fired.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think a thing that I have done for the country, the firing of James Comey, is going to go down as a very good thing. FBI is great.
I know so many people in the FBI. The FBI is a fantastic institution. But some of the people at the top were rotten apples. James Comey was one of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: FBI is great, some rotten apples. But you hear what he says about Comey, and he also refers to the deep state. You can't have it both ways.
(CROSSTALK) CAMPBELL: That's right.
If you're inside the FBI, you're probably trying to make sense of this, because at some -- in some instances, they're saying the FBI, they're corrupt, but not the rank and file, just the leadership.
And then you have the president's attorney that goes out, Rudy Giuliani, and compares agents executing a lawful court order to Nazis and storm troopers.
And so this idea that it's just the leadership doesn't really hold water, because you can continue to see this campaign. With respect to Comey, someone obviously for whom I worked, I think it's part of that campaign to discredit.
Obviously, the White House sees kind of shades of gray and enemies around every corner. And they perceive him to be one, someone who is stepping out and saying, here's my story, here's what I saw. I think that what is taking place in Washington isn't the best direction for our country.And here's all the instances of malfeasance.
And they're going to battle.
BALDWIN: Do you think, just based upon what you know about the FBI -- because we heard from Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell, saying that -- quote -- "This is allowing subjects of an investigation to reach into the evidence locker of the FBI."
Really, to either of you, do you -- do you think that they will walk out of their, they being the non-intel folks, with anything to look at?
RODGERS: I don't think -- I mean, it's unclear.
We had heard before that they wouldn't get the actual documents, that they would get instead a verbal briefing, which is at least better. It's less likely to leak that way.
But who knows at this point. And if they didn't get the documents, I think we can expect a push for those next. I mean, where is this going to end, until he knows everything he needs to know to defend himself, which at this stage of the game, again, is entirely inappropriate?
CAMPBELL: And it's an incredible situation we find ourselves in, where if you are the Department of Justice leadership or the director of the FBI, you probably prepared for that meeting, going in knowing that anything you say might end up on the airwaves.
BALDWIN: Could leak.
CAMPBELL: And might leak, which, when we're talking about sensitive sources and methods, it's a very rough time to be in that business, when you have lawmakers who are politicizing that process.
BALDWIN: Yes. Let me play some sound. This is from the secretary of state, Mike
Pompeo, earlier, when he was asked about the president's conflicts of interest. Here he was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TOM UDALL (D), NEW MEXICO: Given that the president refuses to disclose his tax returns, how can you assure the American people that American foreign policy is free of his personal conflicts of interest?
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I -- Senator, I -- I -- I -- I find -- I find that question bizarre.
UDALL: I -- you don't want to answer it, then?
UDALL: You just want to describe it as bizarre?
POMPEO: Yes, I do.
UDALL: And not give me an answer?
POMPEO: I think that's indicative of my answer, Senator.
POMPEO: I have been incredibly involved in this administration's foreign policy now for some 16 months. And I have seen literally no evidence of what you are scurrilously, scurrilously suggesting.
UDALL: Well, that's what I to ask you specifically about.
UDALL: No, it is not scurrilously.
POMPEO: It's an outrageous suggestion.
UDALL: My friend, it is not scurrilously. This has been raised by a number of people out there.
POMPEO: Yes, sir. Yes, sir, it has. You want me to tell you who those folks are and what their political interests...
UDALL: Yes, it's -- oh, I know. It's fake news. Now, let me ask my question. OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Whew. Whoa. That was -- that was testy between these two guys.
Do you think that was a bizarre question? RODGERS: Not at all.
BALDWIN: Not at all?
RODGERS: Though it's broader than the tax returns.
What you really need if you want to delve into the issue of whether foreign policy in this administration is being driven by essentially profits to Trump and his family and his business, it's much broader than the taxes. Right?
You need to look at the businesses, just from the revelations about Michael Cohen alone and to monetize access to the presidency, and then looking ahead to what policy was created from these -- these folks that he was meeting with and getting money from.
I mean, it's obvious we have big problems here. The question is, when are we going to get to the bottom of those? Now or later?
CAMPBELL: That's right.
And if you look at the fact that the president hasn't held a press conference in however long -- we've been keeping a running track -- I mean, obviously, he has these availabilities. But there isn't really that full standing in front of the press, taking whatever question comes before them.
CAMPBELL: You can't blame Congress or the press to take any opportunity they can to ask a question of someone who represents the president of the United States.
Josh and Jennifer, thank you guys so much.
RODGERS: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Coming up next: shocking allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior against legendary actor Morgan Freeman. Hear how he is now responding to this exclusive reporting from CNN.
BALDWIN: We are back this afternoon. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Here's the breaking news.
A CNN investigation has uncovered a pattern of alleged inappropriate behavior by legendary actor Morgan Freeman, both on set and at his production company, Reveals -- Revelations Entertainment.
Joining me now, CNN's Chloe Melas and An Phung.
Ladies, you have been working on this for months and months. Tell me a little bit about your reporting.
CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Yes.
Well, Brooke, after a months-long investigation, like you said, 16 people agreed to share their stories with us. Several of them said that Morgan Freeman make constant comments about their bodies and their clothing choices.
Eight of them said that they were victims of harassment or inappropriate behavior by Morgan Freeman. Two of those eight, Brooke, said that they were subjected to unwanted touching by Freeman.
And something very telling that I want to point is that only one of those women, including myself, were willing to use their names, for fear of retribution, which I will get to later about myself.
Now, I want to share some of the stories that we were told. One woman who was a production assistant on the movie "Going in Style" said that, while filming in 2015, Freeman subjected her to unwanted touching of her lower back and comments about her figure on a near daily basis.
In one incident, she says that Freeman kept trying to lift up her skirt --