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Justice Department and FBI to Hold Two Briefings with White House and Congress Regarding Method of Using Informant in Trump Campaign; Interview with Representative Jackie Speier; Interview with Representative Peter King. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired May 24, 2018 - 8:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, so despite that, it's working. And the FBI and the DOJ are going to reveal today in these two different meetings, first to Devin Nunes and Tray Gowdy, and now Paul Ryan we've heard are added to the first meeting, and then to the group of eight, they're going to reveal their sources and methods, so it worked.
JOSHUA GREEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think branding the informant a spy, and let's be clear, this is an FBI informant who is investigating potential Russian interference in Trump's campaign, the spy thing is part of Trump and Republicans' efforts to discredit the Mueller investigation. And one concern among Democrats, among law enforcement, even among some Republicans I've talked to is that the special meeting with Nunes and Gowdy, I'm not sure if Ryan is going to be there or not --
CAMEROTA: We just heard that. That's the latest news that we just got.
GREEN: -- is part of an effort to gain information about the investigation that can then essentially be weaponized against the Justice Department and the FBI. I think that's one reason why this is so unusual that Republicans have been so aggressive about interfering in an ongoing investigation.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: J-Mart, there are two points of context, though, that seem to be being ignored. The first one is, why we have no facts that there were a spy. We do have proof that there was no spy because the DOJ, which is run by all Trump appointees, said there was no one planted in the campaign. That's first.
The second thing that we're dealing with or neglecting is the context of why this informant, this asset was used, which is all of the good grounds for suspicion that the Russians may have been trying to infiltrate that campaign and that people around the president were saying and doing things that they should not be saying and doing.
JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And you got this extraordinary spectacle of the Republican Party, which is traditionally a law and order party, confronting the Department of Justice and the FBI, which, as you point out, Chris, in this administration and even with some holdovers is filled mostly with Republicans. This is not a nest of communist agitators or even like lefty academics. It's a bunch of g-men and g-women. And it's extraordinary to see.
But to Josh's point, Trump is a gifted marketer and brander. Even more than a businessman, that's really what he was. He was a media showman, P.R. guy for a long time. And that's his gift. And I think that's why he did so well during the campaign, and that's what he's doing now is basically trying to put his spin on this investigation, muddy the waters, raise doubts, and basically create red and blue. And if you're for the investigation, then you're on the other side. And so it's less a matter of rule of law and more a matter of politics.
CAMEROTA: It's fine as long as his gift doesn't end up chipping away at the reputation of the FBI. Calling the FBI the criminal deep state, which is what he's been doing --
MARTIN: There's no question that it's norm breaking, absolutely.
CAMEROTA: It's beyond norm breaking. I was a crime reporter at "America's Most Wanted" for five years. I still have lots of friends in the FBI. To pretend that doesn't have an effect on their psyche, to pretend that doesn't have an effect on that morale, it's not true. It does. It does really upset them.
And then when you need them like yesterday at the big meeting on MS-13 and you try to extoll their virtues on how they're helping break up MS-13 by using things like confidential informants, it is confusing to them and upsetting to them, Josh. And so that's what the president is trying to do in terms of having it both ways. He has said things like the FBI is in tatters, worst in history, and then he tries to say how great they are.
GREEN: It's worth pointing out here, it's not only upsetting to the agents themselves, though I'm sure it is. It's also had a marked effect on public opinion, at least among Republicans. If you look at -- exactly. If you look at the favorability rating of how Republicans view the Justice Department and the FBI it's gone down precipitously since Trump began these attacks.
And that is the point of this whole affair is to discredit anybody who could potentially bring negative charges against Trump, and that includes DOJ, FBI, the Mueller investigation. And that's why Trump is out there using his branding skills not to sell buildings or cheap vodka, but to brand the investigation a witch hunt and to call the FBI informant a spy.
CUOMO: J-Mart, what happens today after these meetings? Do you think we get revelatory information that there was a spy?
MARTIN: I'm skeptical that it's going to be advanced like that. I think we know the facts on the ground.
[08:05:00] I think the question is the more sort of traditional mainstream GOP folks on Capitol Hill, not those who have become the spear carriers on this issue, but those who are more restrained, what do they say, and do they keep quiet? That's been the pattern for a year and a half now is basically standing by while President Trump does break these norms and not say anything. But how far will they let him go when it comes to targeting the Department of Justice in this country?
CAMEROTA: All right, Josh Green, J-Mart, thank you both very much for the insights.
So are Democrats happy or are they angry about this FBI briefing they'll be getting today? We ask Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier live next.
CAMEROTA: In just hours the Justice Department will hold two classified briefings on the FBI's use of a confidential source to determine if Russia was colluding with the Trump campaign. The second meeting with the bipartisan gang of eight was added after Democrats complained because they were originally not invited today join the first meeting. Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier, she's a member of the House Intel Committee. Congressman, thanks so much for being here. Why do we need two meetings?
REP. JACKIE SPEIER, (D) CALIFORNIA: We don't need two meetings. It should have been a gang of eight meeting, but because this has become a pure political antique we are now have two meetings.
[08:10:01] What will be interesting though is that more information will be able to be shared in the gang of eight meeting because they have a higher classification in terms of being able to receive top secret --
CAMEROTA: Is that right? That's interesting. So in other words, the information might not be just an exact duplicate one meeting to the other, and, in fact, you're saying that Devin Nunes and Trey Gowdy won't get as much information as the following meeting?
SPEIER: So Devin Nunes is one of the members of the gang of eight, so he would be able to sit in on both meetings, but Trey Gowdy doesn't have the same ability to receive information as does the gang of eight.
CAMEROTA: Listen, why weren't Democrats just invited to the first meeting? Why didn't Devin Nunes want Democrats there?
SPEIER: Because this is a charade. This is a paranoid president who is calling the shots, who believes that he will get more traction, he will be able to undermine the Mueller investigation by identifying this as spy-gate, when, in fact, any other rational person would recognize if four persons highly placed within their campaign were being recruited by the Russians, you would think that the candidate would want the FBI to be investigating this because we do not want Russia calling the shots in our country.
CAMEROTA: We think it was three people inside the campaign that this confidential informant met with, but on a larger issue, first of all, did you want to be invited to this meeting? Did you ask the chairman of your committee, Devin Nunes, if you could go?
SPEIER: No, I did not because it truly belongs with the gang of eight. I certainly would like to be briefed as I'm sure all of my colleagues on the committee would like to be briefed if it was appropriate. This is being run by the White House. This is an effort to glean information and then share it with the president so they can anticipate what the Mueller investigation is going to be asking the president and what the Mueller investigation has on the president.
CAMEROTA: That's what you think is happening. You think Devin Nunes has an ulterior motive for wanting this information?
SPEIER: No question in my mind.
CAMEROTA: Based on what?
SPEIER: Just on the way he has operated for the last year and a half. Shutting down the Intelligence Committee review prematurely was done for one purpose and one purpose only, so the president could take the findings of no collusion, House Committee says there's no collusion, when there is more and more evidence growing by leaps and bounds that there was certainly intent to collude and to conspire. And we don't know all the information that the Mueller investigation has gleaned, but we do know that this is all being orchestrated by the president, was from the very beginning when Mr. Nunes did his midnight run to the White House.
Everything they've attempted, there was unmasking. That was one huge fiasco. That didn't stick, so he moves on to yet another one. He said that there was eavesdropping that was going on, wiretapping of his campaign. So again, he is paranoid and he shows it over and over again.
CAMEROTA: And are you -- I know that you said this should be done by the gang of eight, but are you comfortable with the precedent that's being set that the FBI is revealing their sources and methods to Congresspeople?
SPEIER: I think it's a very slippery slope. It's always been an independent agency. It's always been hands off. You allow the Department of Justice, the FBI to do its work. And now if we start imposing upon them requirements that they share information with us that then is leaked to the public, obviously we are undermining our entire democracy.
CAMEROTA: And you think that's next? Will there be leaks after today's meeting?
SPEIER: Oh, there's no questions there will be leaks. No question.
CAMEROTA: I want to ask you also about sexual harassment in the halls of Congress because you and I have talked so much about this in the past. So seven months ago when this came to light, the public was shocked to learn that if there were claims against members of Congress, those claims were paid by taxpayer dollars. And furthermore, the accuser, the victim, had to go through counseling, not the accused, so both of those were revelations, OK. And you said at that time that you were going to do something about it. Today, finally, it seems as though Congress maybe moving forward on taking action. Give us an update.
SPEIER: So the House passed a very strong bill that protects the victim. No mandatory counseling, no mandatory mediation, no DNA nondisclosure agreements, all of that was part of our bill, and representation by legal counsel for the victim. The Senate has passed their version which were both Republicans and Democrats on the House side are disappointed in. We will go to conference and hopefully we can iron out some of those differences, because in the end the balance of power has always been with the harasser and the institution. We want to equalize that so that the victim has protections as well. [08:15:04]
CAMEROTA: Have you seen any changes happening, even before this legislation? Has anything changed since we begun talking about this so publicly?
SPEIER: Well, I think everyone is much more careful. I think members recognize that if they're going to be on the hook to pay back the U.S. treasury as we require in our legislation, that they are going to think twice before they sexually harass one of their employees or staff.
CAMEROTA: I mean, because look, we have heard some horrifying stories since things have become public about what some members of Congress were up to.
Congresswoman Jackie Speier, thank you very much for coming on.
SPEIER: Thank you, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Always great to talk to you.
CUOMO: All right. The Trump administration now bowing to Democratic pressure, but why are key Republicans meeting separately on that confidential intelligence source? What is the goal here? If the goal is to have you, the people, understand the situation better, why have it divide this way?
Republican Congressman Peter King who was at that big meeting out on Long Island about how to stop MS-13 is with us next.
[08:20:23] CUOMO: So, the Justice Department is going to hold two classified briefings today with top congressional lawmakers on the Russia investigation and the confidential source who provided information of possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
One of the meetings will include only Republicans and that clearly goes against normal protocol.
Joining us now is Republican Congressman Peter King of New York. He's a member of the House Intel Committee.
Good to see you, sir. Thank you for joining us.
REP. PETER KING (R-NY), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Always good to be with you, Chris.
CUOMO: What do you think of this move today?
KING: I think first of all, it was unfortunate that the Justice Department and the FBI delayed so long in having the meeting in the first place. I'm glad the Democrats finally want to be part of it because they've never supported us before in trying to obtain this information. So I think it's appropriate to be in the meeting with Devin Nunes and Trey Gowdy. They're the ones who've been demanding this information and fighting hard to get it.
And if the Gang of Eight, they want to be there, which is four Democrats and four Republicans, that's fine. There should be nothing to hide here among people at that level.
CUOMO: There should be one meeting, should there not be, with both parties represented?
KING: No. Absolutely not. I have no problem with -- both parties are going to be present at the second one --
CUOMO: But not at the same meeting so they'll come out with different information potentially.
KING: Well, actually, Devin Nunes will be at both of them.
KING: And again, so he'll be there at both of them and the fact is the reason the first meeting was set up, Chris, was because the Democrats have stonewalled every attempt we've made to try to get the truth out of the Justice Department and FBI. It was Nunes and Gowdy that asked for the meeting.
And the Democrats say, oh, we want to be part of that meeting. So, now, the whole Gang of Eight will be there at the second meeting and I don't see any problem with that at all.
CUOMO: When you say that we've been getting stonewalled, is it not true that you had officials from the FBI and the DOJ say there was no implanted spy in the Trump campaign? Is all the reporting wrong on that? Haven't they already said that?
KING: Well, let's see what the evidence shows because again --
CUOMO: You think they're lying about it?
KING: I think they've been certainly not telling the truth throughout this, that's for sure. I don't think there's any basis for this investigation in the first place. All they might be able to hang their hat on is this unnamed person and if as little evidence from him as there's been from the others, then it shows this whole investigation should never have been started from the start.
CUOMO: You don't think there was good reason for suspicion about Russian interference in the election?
KING: Absolutely not.
CUOMO: And whether or not they were trying to make inroads into the Trump campaign?
KING: Absolutely not. This was based as far as we know so far -- it was based on Carter Page who never had any connection with the campaign other than to have his name there, he never met with President Trump, never met with any of the top people in the campaign and George Papadopoulos, a 28-year-old person who apparently got drunk in a meeting in Europe, and there's a question of when this second source, when he first became engaged.
To begin an investigation of a presidential campaign based on such two loose matters as Carter Page, everything he said was public record. He was never actually engaged in the campaign and Papadopoulos, a 28- year-old acting on his own, and there's evidence he'd done anything at all -- to use that as the basis to investigate a presidential campaign and possibly put an informant into that campaign, Chris, you as a civil servant should be shouting from the roof tops against this. If this turns out what it appears to be now this was a terrible abuse of power by the FBI and the Justice Department.
I remember all last year, going -- December of 2016, January of 2017, Jim Comey telling us about this unprecedented penetration of a presidential campaign by Russia --
KING: -- and there is none. There is none. Carter Page? Are you kidding me?
CUOMO: I can't believe you're saying that. If you were talking right now about proof of a crime, I would just keep listening, but.
KING: OK, all right.
CUOMO: With everything that we know about the actions that Mueller has taken to date, and again I believe there's a lot more that we don't know because he has been good at keeping his mouth shut, you have had so many points of contacts, so many bad choices made by people in and around that campaign about what to say and do it seems like there was clearly grounds for suspicion to look.
KING: Absolutely not. Listen, if you want to go into suspicion, you can talk and I wouldn't say this, but there's more suspicion with the Hillary Clinton campaign.
CUOMO: How so?
KING: Hold on. The DNC and Hillary Clinton's campaign, they relied on the dossier. The dossier was obtained by a foreign agent, British MI6 who was dealing with Russian agent. So, the input that Russia had to the campaign was far more through Michael Steele and the dossier than anything with Donald Trump.
CUOMO: But that was an intelligence officer working sources, not meeting with government officials from Russia or promising bad information on your opponent.
KING: OK, here we go. You're talking about a 20 minute meeting which was done in Trump tower with people walking through the lobby of Trump Tower.
[08:20:02] You had the guy who set it up Goldstone taking selfies of himself. You had a meeting that lasted 20 minutes. I've been listening to all the witness throughout that meeting, there was absolutely nothing.
CUOMO: Then why do they keep lying about the purpose of the meeting, a meeting you would never have taken, Peter King?
KING: Well, first of all, you say lie, there was one statement made if you want to call it a misstatement or trying to slander --
CUOMO: I know they went there for dirt on Clinton. We know that was a dumb thing to do and we know that the statement that came out said it was about adoption.
KING: And we also know that the Clinton campaign went to a foreign agent to get dirt on Trump and so that to me -- why wasn't it a full investigation by the FBI of the Clinton campaign for what was going on?
If you want to say it's proper to penetrate a presidential campaign based on -- by the way, 20-minute meeting that was held which was no secret about it at the time, they walked through Trump Tower, if you think Russian intelligence is going to send four people through the lobby of Trump Tower.
CUOMO: I don't know. I don't know what they'll do. They sent that lawyer there to meet with them and if the FBI wanted to come after the campaign for, you know, bad reason, why didn't they leak it? Why didn't they leak it like they did about the Clinton probe? Why didn't Comey get up there yapping about that the way he did about the Clinton probe?
Why would they do that? Why would they not come out and say anything? Why would they be so discreet about it if they were out to get Trump? It doesn't make sense.
KING: It would if they're trying to get information to use against him. They never thought she's going to lose. But they were in there, and again, the FISA applications have been shown to be faulty, defective. To use again --
CUOMO: Wait. How have they been found to be faulty?
KING: Because it was based 99 percent on the dossier. CUOMO: How can you apportion a percentage on something like that?
You had four judges. Four judges acted consistently with the findings.
KING: I read those applications. I'm telling you, it's 99.9 percent was based on the dossier, which was obtained by a foreign agent working with Russian agents. That's what that was based on. And to use that as the excuse to penetrate a presidential campaign, Chris, it's just wrong. It really is.
CUOMO: The president just tweeted that Clapper admitted there was a spy, has now admitted that they were spying on the campaign. Large dollars were paid to the spy far beyond normal, starting to look like one of the biggest political scandals in U.S. history.
Every one of those things is not backed by any fact that we understand at this time. Clapper didn't say they were spying. He borrowed the word because it's coming out of Trump's mouth and he actually said the opposite, that the intention wasn't to get dirt on Trump. It was to see if it was true because of the suspicion that's you're choosing to ignore, Congressman --
KING: I'm not ignoring anything.
CUOMO: You just said there was no basis to look.
KING: I looked at them and I find them to be worthless. I'm not ignoring them at all. Listen, I've sat through almost all of these hearings, all the interviews and witnesses and listened to hours and hours of questions. Nothing has been found, that I can tell you.
CUOMO: But there's no proof that this man was paid more than he should have been or was paid in the past or was paid anything specifically for this action, is that true or false?
KING: I can't say, but I think --
CUOMO: Neither can the president and yet he is making that gross assumption.
KING: I'm not saying I don't know. I'm saying I can't say. When the full story comes out, we'll see how much he got paid over the years and how much he got paid in recent time.
CUOMO: All right. Peter King, you know I appreciate you making the case to the American people, thank you for doing it.
KING: I'll see you at night one of these days.
CUOMO: God willing you will. You'll certainly be asked.
KING: Oh, good luck to you, Chris. Thanks a lot. I appreciate it. Thank you.
CAMEROTA: OK. The cast of "Arrested Development" is setting aside comedy to tackle a very difficult Me Too moment. What they said about their costar accused of sexual misconduct while he was listening.