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North Korea Still Open to Summit, Despite Trump Calling It Off; Interview with Rep. Jerry Nadler: White House Lawyer Attends Start of Briefings with Lawmakers on FBI Source. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired May 25, 2018 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hope that Kim Jong-un will ultimately do what is right not only for himself but for his people.
[07:00:10] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's an effort to try and bully the Department of Justice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The White House said Flood was there to talk about the need for transparency.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: No evidence to support any allegation that the FBI placed a spy in the Trump campaign.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein expected to turn himself into police today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are actually two cases, one involving rape and a second involving a sexual assault.
GLORIA ALLRED, VICTIMS' RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Fear is a weapon that keeps women down. Now that fear is released.
CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Dave Briggs joins me this morning.
DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning.
CAMEROTA: Great to work with you.
BRIGGS: Great to be here.
CAMEROTA: OK. Happy Friday.
Up first, North Korea says it is ready to meet with President Trump even after he abruptly called off next month's planned summit with Kim Jong-un. The North's response to Mr. Trump's letter is very carefully worded and steers clear of the usual inflammatory insults. What does that mean? So now the focus shifts back to how President Trump will respond today.
BRIGGS: Meantime, the classified briefings between the Justice Department and top lawmakers does not appear to reveal any smoking gun to support the president's unproven claim that an FBI source was planted in his campaign. White House lawyer Emmet Flood did attend both briefings, and some lawmakers are not happy about that.
And breaking right now, we are awaiting disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein to turn himself into New York police any minute. CNN has learned he will face rape charges. Let's begin our coverage, though, with CNN's Will Ripley in Wonsan, North Korea, with our top story -- Will.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has been a surreal 24 hours on the ground here in North Korea. We spent more than nine hours at Pyunggyie-ri nuclear test site looking at tunnel after tunnel. The buildings on the site, all of them rigged for explosives.
And then we saw the huge blasts without any ability to actually verify if what the North Koreans were saying was true. If the site is now rendered unusable because of the fact that we were simply journalists with our cameras, documenting the images without any context of knowing exactly what was happening inside those tunnels, if they really are destroyed for good.
Also, on the train ride back, even more surreal moments when we learned late in the evening in North Korea that, in fact, President Trump had canceled the summit with Kim Jong-un that was scheduled for June 12 in Singapore. We got the phone call. The word spread quickly amongst the North Koreans who were on the train. They heard it from us first. And it was extremely awkward and uncomfortable. Very tense moments. A state of shock amongst not only the journalists but the North Koreans that the summit, that the whole North Korean nuclear test site destruction was supposed to lead up to had now been canceled.
But then there was a statement out of North Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs that was surprisingly diplomatic considering some of the heated rhetoric that's been coming out of Pyongyang towards the United States in recent days.
North Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying, quote, talking about the historic summit, "We highly appreciated the fact that President Trump made a brave decision that no president in the past has made and put efforts to make their summit happen."
Now President Trump's letter to Kim Jong-un, while the tone was mostly cordial, there was also a threat saying, "You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used."
So clearly mixed messaging coming out of here. But the sense I'm getting on the ground, and if the North Koreans do want this summit to go forward. They do want talks and a dialogue with the United States.
I'm Will Ripley, reporting in Wonsan, North Korea.
BRIGGS: All right. Thank you, Will.
Growing questions today about why a White House lawyer attended part of those classified briefings on a confidential source in the Russia investigation. Lawmakers on both sides now appearing united, though, in the fact that there was no smoking gun on President Trump's claim that a spy was planted in his campaign.
CNN's Joe Johns live at the White house with more.
Joe, good morning.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave.
So what was he doing there anyway? The presence of one of the president's lawyers at those meetings held by the Department of Justice yesterday created plenty of blowback. One Republican staffer telling CNN's Jake Tapper, "It's the craziest expletive I ever heard." A senior administration official conceding it's not clear what benefit the White House got out of having itself represented there.
But CNN -- but the lawyer for the White House, Rudy Giuliani, told CNN, as far as he's concerned, he's not sure what all of the fuss is about.
JOHNS (voice-over): Rudy Giuliani defending the surprise appearance by White House lawyer Emmet Flood at two classified intelligence briefings about the Russia investigation that directly involved the president's campaign.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: They see themselves, the Trump team, as being invincible. I do think it's an effort to try and bully the Department of Justice.
JOHNS: Giuliani responding to critics by telling CNN that he can't understand why it is inappropriate for the White House lawyer to go, noting that he assumes that Flood attended because the president wanted him to.
[07:05:11] Earlier in the day, the White House explained both Flood and White House chief of staff John Kelly's appearances by stressing that neither actually attended but made brief remarks before the meeting started to relay the president's desire for as much openness as possible under the law.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I want want from Rod, from the FBI, from everybody, we want transparency.
JOHNS: Giuliani telling CNN the legal team's interest in the meeting was directly related to the special counsel probe, stressing that information about the confidential source, who spoke with at least three members of the Trump campaign in 2016, is a prerequisite for any Trump interview with Robert Mueller's team. The top Democrat on the House Intel Committee, Adam Schiff, who
attended the meeting, citing Giuliani's remarks in a statement, criticizing Flood's appearance, noting the president's legal team expects to use information gleaned improperly from the Justice Department or the president's allies in Congress to their legal advantage.
Chairman Devin Nunes, who also attended both briefings, has been demanding documents from the Justice Department about the use of surveillance in the Russia probe.
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: We're not going to go to another meeting where we don't get documents.
JOHNS: But a source tells CNN that Nunes and Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy did not get the documents they requested. And even Nunes, nor Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy have commented.
House Speaker Paul Ryan also refusing to comment but saying he looks forward "to the prompt completion of the House Intelligence Committee's work, now that they are getting the cooperation necessary."
Both Schiff and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell say they did not see a smoking gun.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intelligence agency placed a spy in the Trump campaign.
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Were you surprised with what you learned?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-OH), MAJORITY LEADER: Nothing particularly surprising. But again, it was classified, so there's no real -- no real reporting I can give to you.
JOHNS: The president is going to go out in a little while. He is going right up the road to Annapolis, Maryland, where he's expected to give the commencement speech for the United States Naval Academy.
Later today, the president is expected to sit down and have a talk with his secretary of state just a day after canceling the North Korean summit -- Alisyn and Dave.
CAMEROTA: OK, Joe, that is where we will begin our conversation. Thank you very much for setting the table. So let's talk about all this with CNN Politics reporter and editor at large Chris Cillizza and host of CNN's "SMERCONISH," Michael Smerconish. Michael is the author of the upcoming book, "Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right." Here I am.
BRIGGS (singing): Stuck in the middle with you. CAMEROTA: Wow.
BRIGGS: Sorry. That's not the rest of the title.
CAMEROTA: But it is the song.
BRIGGS: I thought you night sing it.
CAMEROTA: No, I like ratings, Dave. OK, so --
BRIGGS: I apparently did not, but I like classic rock, Michael.
CAMEROTA: Michael, great title. Let's start with everything that's happened in the past 24 hours with North Korea. I mean, North Korea has issued this highly conciliatory note in response to President Trump canceling it. I'll just read a portion of it. Talking about the historic summit, we highly appreciated the fact that President Trump made a brave decision that no president in the past has made and put efforts to make the summit happen.
I mean, this is after he canceled it, they're still complimenting him. Do you think that President Trump's mercurial style has won the day with this latest round?
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: If my glass is half full, then I look at that conciliatory tone, and I say, well, that's a positive development. If my glass is half full, I also say I like the fact that President Trump walked away from the table, because he seemed so intent on getting a deal, on getting a win that maybe he was about to give away too much on the subject of denuclearization.
On the other hand, if my glass is half empty, I rely on what Will Ripley just said in referencing that letter that the president issued to Kim Jong-un where, again, he's waving the big stick and talking about the size of his nuclear button. So I think it's -- it's unclear at this stage. But this sort of gamesmanship, frankly, was perhaps to be expected.
BRIGGS: Chris, you must have found this letter extraordinary from the president to Kim Jong-un. Why he put it out there in the first place, we could discuss. But he mentioned their nuclear capability. He says he felt "wonderful dialogue building between you and me." "A beautiful gesture" that they released hostages. And by the way, call me if you change your mind.
The preemptive breakup letter is unique. Why did they do it? Was it the right move by the president at this stage?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Well, it was unorthodox, which I think has now become orthodox if you're thinking about this president. I mean, he says and does things that no one in the position before or probably anyone else in the position in the future would do.
[07:10:05] It did read, Dave, to me like about three-quarters wistful breakup letter in high school, one quarter "Don't forget" -- to Michael's point -- "Don't forget I have a giant nuclear arsenal." So -- which was not usually part of the high school break-up letter.
You know, so --
BRIGGS: Wasn't part of my repertoire either.
CILLIZZA: It speaks -- it speaks to his divided mind, I think, about Kim Jong-un and North Korea. He wants to make this happen. He wanted this to happen. On the other hand, he always wants to be the guy who walks away from the table first.
CAMEROTA: OK. So Michael Smerconish, I know this is impossible to predict. But can you predict -- I mean, it's possible the summit could still happen. It's possible it could still happen on June 12. I mean --
BRIGGS: This was a great move.
CAMEROTA: Maybe this is -- maybe today they're going to talk, and it's going to be back on.
SMERCONISH: I hope that it happens. If you're asking me to predict -- and you know my record when it comes to predicting Donald Trump, so you might want to go the opposite way -- I'd like to think that it will take place either before or after June the 12th. I'm not sure.
But I worry that, if it doesn't take place, then it rachets up the nuclear talk, as evidenced by that letter, and we're back where we were, which was frankly, in a pretty dangerous position last summer.
CAMEROTA: Chris? Your thoughts?
CILLIZZA: I mean, here's the thing. You don't ever really know. I think the only thing Donald Trump likes more than walking away from the table, Alisyn, is coming back to it. I mean, he loves -- think of it as a TV drama. Unexpected twist --
CILLIZZA: -- in the middle of the season. only to be followed up with some sort of denouement at the end of the season that you didn't see coming.
So the door is clearly still open for the idea of a summit. Look what we have: the written letter of Donald Trump and now this quote from the North Koreans that is very different than what we usually get from North Korea.
Does it happen? I don't know that Donald Trump knows that. And again, I think it's so freighted with his desire -- his twin desires. One, to be a history-making president, to set records. You see him say it in every public appearance. Record-setting. Whether it's inauguration crowds or his ability to sit down with Kim Jong-un.
Coupled with or diametrically opposed to the fact that he often wants to be the guy who's the greatest deal maker, and he doesn't want to go into any meeting in which he -- it looks like he is being taken advantage of or insulted in some ways. So these -- those things are really, I think, clashing as he tries to figure out what to do next.
BRIGGS: To that notion of being a deal maker, Michael, that is, of course, one of the signature reasons that people voted for Donald Trump.
Let's look at the deals he's made or the deals he's actually broken. The Iran nuclear deal, the Paris climate deal, the TPP. You go onto the domestic front: DACA, the individual mandate as related to Obamacare. Is North Korea just the latest example of a deal breaker not a deal maker?
SMERCONISH: Well, he's been a bull in a China shop. And it's easy to be critical of each of those deals having fallen apart. But to those who put him in office, the 46 percent in the red states who are responsible responsible for his election, they wanted someone. This is what he promised, right? He said he would upset the apple cart, and they're getting exactly what they wanted in that regard.
CAMEROTA: Chris Cillizza, we have to move on to the -- the big meetings yesterday, OK, with the Gang of Eight. They were going to be getting this classified information from the FBI and the Department of Justice after President Trump, and so many of his media allies made the point that there was a spy in his campaign.
And both sides, Republicans and Democrats, now say, "No, that's not what that -- I mean, listen, they -- it was classified, so they have to reveal details of what they heard. But both sides have said no smoking gun, no evidence that they could see.
BRIGGS: Well, Mitch McConnell said no surprise. He didn't say no smoking gun.
CAMEROTA: That's right. He said no surprise. But wouldn't it have been a surprise if there had been a spy planted?
BRIGGS: Depends on your narrative, doesn't it?
CAMEROTA: Yes. How do you hear it, Chris?
CILLIZZA: This is my surprise face that they didn't find anything. I mean, look, the -- the truth of the matter is here, is that this is something that Donald Trump about a week ago decided he was going to push and say that, in the same way that he decided back in March 2017 that he was going to say that the Obama administration ordered that he -- his wires, phone wires be tapped at Trump Tower. Just because he says it doesn't mean it's true. We have to examine available facts.
Is it possible that something comes out down the line that affirms that he's right? Sure. Do I think that's likely? Not in the least. And I think based on available facts, there's -- what we know is, yes, there was a confidential source used to have a conversation with Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, because there were suspicions that they were interacting with Russians; and it was an attempt to suss out what the Russians were trying to do. That's not the same thing as a spy embedded in the campaign for political reasons. [07:15:13] BRIGGS: Quickly, Michael, there was a surprise character
in this television show, and that was Emmet Flood, the White House lawyer, appearing at both briefings. Jonathan Turley called it a blunder of the first order. You're an attorney. Was it appropriate?
SMERCONISH: I don't think it was appropriate, but I don't think it was part of a legal strategy. This is all part of an inoculation strategy.
The big picture here is that the president and his supporters are seizing on a complicated set of facts and trying to prepare the American people, so that if Mueller should come forth with a report to Rod Rosenstein that has a colorable case for obstruction of justice, they will already have poisoned the well for people to believe it's all the product of a witch-hunt. And it's all to that end that they're acting.
BRIGGS: Another branding strategy by the brander in chief. Michael Smerconish, Chris Cillizza, we appreciate you both. Thank you.
CAMEROTA: OK. Meanwhile, we are following some breaking news right now. At any minute disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein is set to turn himself into police in New York. You can see the crowd of media and some onlookers already gathered. A source familiar with this investigation tells CNN that Weinstein will face charges that he raped one woman and forced another to perform sex acts.
CNN's Brynn Gingras is live at the police precinct in New York. What's the latest?
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Alisyn. This criminal complaint that will be filed once he is under arrest involves two women. As you said, one involves rape. And one alleges that she was forced to perform a criminal sex act -- or oral sex, rather, on him. And that would have been, according to my sources, Lucia Evans, who we learned from "The New Yorker" back in 2004, an aspiring actress, alleges that's what Harvey Weinstein mailed her do.
But let me walk you through exactly what we're expecting literally any minute now. We're expecting Weinstein to come up to the front door of the First Precinct here in Manhattan, and he's going to walk past all this media into the precinct house and immediately be placed under arrest.
Soon after that, he's going to be transported by police to the criminal courthouse not far from here, and that's where he'll face a judge on rape charges and a criminal sex act -- criminal sex act charge. We expect bond to be set at $2 million.
So that's what the events are today. But it's important to note this is the first criminal charges to be filed in this case, which we know has been going on for months, ever since that explosive "New Yorker" article last year, wherein this aftermath, dozens of women have come forward, alleging various different clients against Harvey Weinstein. We do expect more charges, Alisyn, to be filed at some point in the future. CAMEROTA: OK, Brynn. Please keep us posted when you see him arrive.
Coming up in just minutes here, Ronan Farrow will join us with what he has learned about the investigation that led to these charges being filed against Weinstein.
BRIGGS: And he's leading a group of House Democrats who are calling on President Trump to sit down with the special counsel. Why Congressman Jerry Nadler thinks the presidential interview is necessary before the end of the Mueller probe. That's next.
[07:22:15] CAMEROTA: Newly-hired White House attorney Emmet Flood showed up unexpectedly at two Justice Department briefings for top lawmakers, during which DOJ officials discussed classified information on the Russia investigation. Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff called Flood's appearance before meetings as "entirely improper."
Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York. He is the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.
Congressman, thanks so much for being here.
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY), RANKING MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Good morning.
CAMEROTA: Let's start right there. Why did Emmet Flood come, and what did you make of his presence?
NADLER: Well, first of all, you have to start with the fact that the entire meeting was improper. The president demanded information he had no right to demand from the special counsel, from the special prosecutor. A subject of investigation has no right to demand information about the investigation.
And Rudy Giuliani was quite clear about what they were doing and why Flood was there, presumably. He said, "We want information to know what's going on so we can prepare our legal strategy." But --
CAMEROTA: It's been pointed out by one of our pundits that that sounds like planting a spy in these classified meetings.
NADLER: Well, that's what this was. No, no. The classified meeting itself was the spy meeting. Spying on the investigation.
CAMEROTA: Meaning that you don't think that even -- that lawmakers, that your fellow congresspeople should be allowed to see the classified documents?
NADLER: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. These classified documents are documents about an ongoing investigation, and they are supposed to remain classified.
Congress's oversight role is to oversee what's going on but not to get into an investigation -- CAMEROTA: But how do you -- but how do you oversee the investigation if you don't know what's happening?
NADLER: You don't oversee the investigation while it's going on. The investigation goes on. There are responsible prosecutors. They make the evidence known in court at the appropriate time. They give it to the defense at the appropriate time. But they don't give it during the investigation. That undermines the investigation, which was the purpose of this demand.
Now, the other thing was the president demanded -- improperly demanded information. He did several things improper. No. 1, he demanded information which he had no right to have. No. 2, he set up this -- this meeting for his own benefit. No. 3, they outed a classified informant. And I --
CAMEROTA: How do you know the president did that?
NADLER: I didn't say the president. I said "they." I'm not sure who did. Whoever did ought to pay a price at law. It's a crime to do that. And I demand -- I wrote a letter yesterday to the Department of Justice, asked them to investigate who outed this informant.
Because as the director of the FBI said the other day, "If we don't protect informants, the American people will be less safe."
And finally, the president has one duty here, let -- two duties. Let the investigation proceed and he should submit to an interview by Mueller. He keeps demanding that the -- that the investigation be wrapped up as soon as possible. It cannot wrap up until he's interviewed. He will be interviewed, either voluntarily or by subpoena. That would take a long time, obviously. But he should submit to the interview. And the special prosecutor should come to his conclusion, make his report, and that report should be public.
CAMEROTA: You felt so strongly about this you led a group of Democrats yesterday to hold a press conference, and you released this letter. I'll read a portion of it: "Although we disagree with you on a range of matters, we all agree it would be best for Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation to reach its conclusion as soon as possible. To that end, we write to advise you, stop stalling, stop blaming the investigation for your political troubles, and submit to an interview."
Was this an exercise in futility? Why would the president listen to a group of Democrats?
NADLER: Well, it was advice. We did point out to him that he will be compelled, presumably, by the special counsel to -- to -- if he doesn't submit to an interview, the special counsel will probably be subpoenaed.
CAMEROTA: Rudy Giuliani says that they don't have to comply with --
NADLER: Rudy Giuliani has no idea what he's talking about. He keeps lying through his teeth. And in fact -- CAMEROTA: How so?
NADLER: Well, we have court decisions. President Nixon was forced to submit the tapes. President Clinton was forced to submit to a deposition. It's very clear the president is subject to process and must testify like anybody else.
CAMEROTA: All right. Congressman Jerry Nadler, we really appreciate you being here. We wanted to talk more, but we do have some breaking news in terms of what's happening with the Harvey Weinstein investigation. He is surrendering to police at this hour. So thank you very much for being with us, Congressman.
NADLER: You're welcome.
CAMEROTA: Great to talk to you -- Dave.
BRIGGS: That's right, Alisyn, following some breaking news. You're looking right now at live pictures of Harvey Weinstein turning himself in to the New York Police Department. A source familiar with the investigation into the disgraced movie mogul telling CNN that Weinstein will face charges that he raped one woman and forced another to perform oral sex on him.
Much more on this breaking news this morning. And his bond expected to be set at $2 million. Next on NEW DAY.