Return to Transcripts main page

NEW DAY

Flash Floods Ravage Maryland Town; Hurricane Alberto Nears Gulf of Mexico; U.S. Diplomat in North Korea to Revive Summit; Giuliani: Origin of Mueller Probe was 'Illegitimate'. Aired 6-6:29a ET

Aired May 28, 2018 - 06:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

[05:59:26] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Monday, May 28, 6 a.m. here in New York. Wishing everyone a peaceful Memorial Day as we remember our loved ones lost in service to the country.

Dave Briggs joins me. Great to have you here.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Good to be here.

CAMEROTA: OK, we do have some breaking news, because there's been flash flooding. It has turned this Maryland town's Main Street into a raging river. Take a look at your screen right now. There are cars being swept up by this roaring, muddy water. This is Ellicott City, Maryland. Nearly eight inches of rain fell in six hours.

So the state's governor has declared a state of emergency for the area. It was just two years ago that this historic town sustained catastrophic damage from floods that left two people dead and caused millions in damages.

BRIGGS: And another severe weather threat to tell you about days before the hurricane season set to begin. The year's first named storm barreling toward the Gulf Coast. Alberto gaining strength, expected to dump heavy rain as it makes landfall this Memorial Day.

We have both of these weather stories covered for you. Let's begin, though, with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux live on the phone from flood- ravaged Ellicott City.

Good morning to you, Suzanne. What's the latest there?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Hey, good morning, Dave.

I know this area well. This is where my -- my parents live in Ellicott City but a much higher ground. But right where I am, I'm in the historic area that has been devastated, as you mentioned, by this massive storm. And they experienced something very similar to this two years ago back in July. I have to tell you, it is incredible, but we are reporting now that

there have been no casualties or fatalities or even missing persons at this time. I spoke with a Howard County police officer who's here on site, who said we expect to get a briefing, perhaps, in an hour or so. But they have pushed us all back, not allowing us to get too close to Main Street, because they say they are still trying to assess the damage and the danger just to have their own rescue crews and workers get on Main Street inside some of these buildings.

You can see by just the footage that was taken by so many people, cars just sliding down the street, Main Street; restaurants, the S.O.S. flags outside. There was even a wedding party that a producer, one of our producers ran into yesterday, that had to be evacuated. They said their vows, but they could not stay for the reception. People were just running; they're trying to seek higher ground. It all lasted about three hours or so before the waters receded.

And as you can imagine, just heartbreaking. Because many of these businesses -- as a matter of fact, just recently, the Howard County executives saying that 96 of these -- 96 percent of these businesses were back and running, 20 new businesses back on Main Street. Now they've got to start all over.

We'll have more details that we expect to develop in the -- in the morning and the moments ahead -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, Suzanne. The video is incredible. And it's just so incredible to have you there, because you know this town, so well. So yes, we'll check back with you throughout the program. Thank you very much.

MALVEAUX: All right.

CAMEROTA: OK. Flooding is also a big concern in the southeast today as Alberto gains strength and heads towards the Gulf Coast. Governors in three states already declaring states of emergency ahead of landfall.

So CNN's Jennifer Gray is live in Pensacola, Florida, with more.

Jennifer, what's happening?

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Alisyn, hurricane season hasn't even begun yet. It does not start until June 1. And we already have a storm that will be making landfall for today. This is -- should remain a sub-tropical storm, maximum winds on about 65 miles per hour. And that's right around the center.

And if you look behind me, you can see the surf. The waves have definitely been higher than normal. And you can also see this water line right here, where the sand gets a little bit darker. We've seen the water come up that high. So we are planning on some beach erosion, along with the Panhandle, as well as some coastal flooding with these waves battering the coastline time and time again throughout the rest of the day. This is a sloppy storm. And so the effects and the impacts are far-

reaching throughout the Panhandle, all the way up through Alabama, Georgia, we could see flooding, and even South Florida. This is pumping a lot of moisture up into places like Cuba, the Florida Keys, are all going to be dealing with flooding still from Alberto, as well as inland locations. So we can't ignore that.

Places even beyond the coast are going to have that flooding threat, as well as a tornado threat. Anywhere from the front right quadrant of the storm. So that includes -- wherever it makes landfall, that includes places like Panama City, as well as the big bend of Florida do need to be on the lookout for tornadoes throughout the day. So we are going to be here in Pensacola, Dave, throughout the rest of the morning to bring you the latest forecast. But we are planning on a landfall sometime this afternoon.

BRIGGS: OK, Jennifer, thanks. We'll check back in just a bit.

Turning now to politics, the on again, off again, now maybe on again summit between Trump and Kim Jong-un. A U.S. delegation is in North Korea, trying to resurrect that meeting as we speak. Mr. Trump abruptly canceled it last week, as you remember, with that letter.

Will these letters [SIC] meet in just two weeks, two weeks from tomorrow, in fact?

CNN's Kaitlan Collins live at the White House with the latest. Kaitlan, what has changed?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave, it has only been four days since the president canceled this highly- anticipated summit. But he seems to have newfound optimism that it could still take place on June the 12th, though his aides inside the White House are deeply skeptical of that timing.

And just to give you a sense of how deep the divide is between the president and his aides on the timing of this, the president said that one of his aides who said it was impossible that it could happen on June 12 didn't exist.

[06:05:08] But right now both the United States and North Korea seem to be racing to resurrect this meeting, even though there is only a little more than two weeks to go.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: U.S. officials traveling to North Korea Sunday, the clearest sign that the canceled summit between Trump and Kim Jong-un may be back on.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're talking to them now. They very much want to do it. We'd like to do it. We're going to see what happens.

COLLINS: President Trump confirming the meeting on Twitter, praising North Korea's "brilliant potential to become a great economic and financial nation," noting, "Kim Jong-un agrees with me on this. It will happen."

The U.S. delegation, led by former South Korean Ambassador Sung Kim, meeting with their North Korean counterparts in the Demilitarized Zone after a surprise second meeting between the South Korean president and Kim Jong-un Saturday. President Moon telling reporters that Kim committed to a summit with Trump and to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, a key prerequisite for talks.

But lawmakers on Capitol Hill expressing skepticism.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I remain convinced that he does not want to denuclearize. In fact, he will not denuclearize. But he wants to give off this perception that he's this open leader, that he's peaceful, that he's reasonable.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: I think that the North Koreans realize that total denuclearization on their part is not in their national interests. That's how they see it.

COLLINS: In a sign of uncertainty about the summit's future, President Trump going after the "New York Times" Saturday for quoting a White House official who said that holding the summit on June 12, as previously planned, would be impossible due to timing restrictions. The president insisting the official doesn't exist and is a phony source. But the remark happened during a formal briefing organized by the White House that dozens of reporters attended. The only reason the remark wasn't on the record is at the White House's insistence.

The comment was later confirmed in audio posted online.

President Trump also continuing to attack Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, lamenting that "young and beautiful lives have been devastated and destroyed by the phony Russia collusion witch-hunt. They went back home in tatters." It's unclear who the president is referring to. But Mueller's team has brought charges against multiple former Trump campaign staffers.

Mr. Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, acknowledging that the attempt to undermine Mueller's investigation in the court of public opinion is part of their strategy.

RUDY GIULIANI, LAWYER FOR DONALD TRUMP: It is for public opinion, because eventually the decision here is going to be impeach, not impeach. Members of the Congress, Democrat and Republican, are going to be informed a lot by their constituents. So our jury, as it should be, is the American people.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: So Giuliani saying that, while he thought that Mueller was legitimate when he started, he no longer believes so now. Giuliani making that argument on television while the president has made it multiple times here over on -- on Twitter over the weekend.

All of that going on as the president today is going to go to Arlington -- Arlington Cemetery right outside of Washington for a wreath-laying ceremony in honor of Memorial Day.

CAMEROTA: OK, Kaitlan, thank you very much. Joining us now, we have CNN political and national security analyst David Sanger and CNN political analyst David Drucker. So David Sanger, you've been reporting on this for weeks, months, years. So it seems like it's on again. Tell us what's happening behind the scenes.

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it sure does seem like it's on again, or at least the president wants it to be. And it almost makes you wonder why he wrote that letter to begin with. Because the day after he wrote the letter, he began discussing putting this back on, perhaps for -- for June 12. And as you heard, got quite angry when we quoted an aide who had given a briefing to 250 people who had suggested that June 12 was just about impossible.

So it does look like it's on. They've done two interesting things, Alisyn. They've sent a very experienced American diplomat, Sung Kim, who dealt with the six-party talks with North Korea during the Bush administration. He's leading the team up into North Korea about the substance of all of this. And then Joe Hagen, who's a deputy chief of staff who -- at the White House who also worked for President Bush. Again, very experienced. Going to Singapore to try to set up the logistics of the trip. That sure sounds like something is underway.

BRIGGS: But it sounds like not much has changed, given the conditions.

David Drucker, we'll bring you in here. At the heart of all this is what is denuclearization? Something that should have been defined before we even took this meeting. Marco Rubio talked about that on Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUBIO: Ultimately, I remain convinced that he does not want to denuclearize. In fact, he will not denuclearize. But he wants to give off this perception that he's this open leader, that he's peaceful, that he's reasonable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[06:10:10] BRIGGS: So, again, David Drucker, isn't that something that should have been laid out before even agreeing to any sort of summit?

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I think it would have been helpful to have the terms agreed to before the president agreed to the summit. But he has agreed to the summit. It looks like he is very committed to getting this thing back on track. And so I think the question we have to ask is, is North Korea's version of denuclearization the same as that of the United States?

And I think there's -- it's highly questionable that the U.S. and North Korea will ever line up on what that means. One, Kim wants to protect his regime. We have seen no real evidence that he is trying to liberalize his regime and open up his regime. And that means protection of the regime is job one for him. How does he do that with a nuclear arsenal? Because without that, the gulags, the way in which he runs his country, is then open to pressure. It's in the spotlight, if you will.

And that's, I think, the danger here, is that Mr. Kim ends up on a stage with the leader of the free world, which is what the president of the United States is. It legitimizes him, and that gives him a certain stature that did not exist before this summit happened, regardless of what happens with the summit.

And I think the other part of this here is China. We are relying so much on China to pressure North Korea into capitulating, into working with us on our terms. But China doesn't have any interest in helping the United States solve a problem and enhancing U.S. -- the stature of the United States and influence of the United States in the Asia- Pacific region.

Its long-term goal is to supplant the U.S. as the preeminent power in that part of the world and, in fact, in other parts of the world. And so because of that, I think it becomes a highly dubious proposition for the U.S. to rely on China as such a key component in the effort to get North Korea to stand down.

CAMEROTA: So David Sanger, what do you think about that fly in the ointment? That -- do you think that Kim could ever agree to denuclearization as the U.S. sees it?

SANGER: No. The U.S. concept of this as they went into it, Alisyn, was that the North Koreans turn over all of their nuclear weapons, dismantle all their infrastructure, get rid of all of their fuel capacity, do the same with the missile program and only then get relief.

I think you're seeing the president and some of his aides begin to walk back from that, because they recognize this is probably going to have to be staged.

And I agree with David. I've always doubted that the North Koreans would find it in their interest to get rid of everything, or that we would ever know what everything was. Since our own intelligence agencies, as we've discussed before, had estimates about the number of their nuclear weapons that range from 20 to 60.

So it's going to be a very difficult thing to actually work out a schedule for the denuclearization that both sides will agree to and trust. And doing the verification for this in a country the size of North Korea is going to be pretty much a nightmare. That doesn't mean it's impossible, but it would require the full cooperation of the North Koreans for a sustained period of time, years. And as you can tell from just the on-again, off-again about the summit meeting, the emotions on this and the divisions internally, here and in North Korea, run deep.

CAMEROTA: So two weeks from tomorrow David Drucker? Too soon? DRUCKER: Well, I think it is theoretically too soon to choreograph an

outcome that the acceptable to the United States. And the way we should look at this is what is acceptable to the United States so that it doesn't send a wrong message to other rogue actors around the world that you can blackmail the United States with a nuclear weapons program?

So I don't think that -- now that the president is committed to the summit itself, I don't know that it's impossible to get back on track. I think it's hard -- I think what people don't realize about these summits, is in any case that they occur, leaders don't just show up and start having a conversation and see where it goes. You choreograph all of the outcomes that you expect to happen. And especially in this case, it's likely, if it works or appears to possibly work, be a multi-round type of scenario, where they meet once, they meet again, maybe they meet over a couple of days, they break for a couple of months, they go back at it. You have diplomats holding side meetings. All of these things are usually highly choreographed so you know what the outcome is supposed to be.

Maybe it doesn't work right, somebody breaks off and says, "I'm through. I'm walking away." But that's when we talk about whether or not there's enough time to get this done, even if you wouldn't have had the letter from a couple of days ago from the president canceling it. That's why it's such a difficult proposition.

So I think the key is can they hold the summit? Sure? But can they hold it and get it done the right way? I think that's the problem.

CAMEROTA: All right. David Drucker, David Sanger, thank you both very much.

OK. Now, to this. Rudy Giuliani defending the president's criticism of the Russia investigation and unveiling the latest effort to undermine the special counsel's probe.

[06:15:06] We'll discuss the strategy next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: President Trump lashing out against the Russia probe on Twitter while his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, tells CNN that the origins of the special counsel's investigation are illegitimate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, LAWYER FOR DONALD TRUMP: You get the Comey thing, which is a leak of a confidential memo, which is illegal for an FBI official to do. And that becomes the basis for appointing Mueller. I'm not saying Mueller is illegitimate. I'm saying the basis on which he was appointed is illegitimate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Joining us now, CNN national security analyst Sam Vinograd and CNN law enforcement analyst Josh Campbell. Sam, we'll start with you. The foundation of the investigation, illegitimate. True or false?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I have to tell you, I'm a little disturbed when Rudy Giuliani and Vladimir Putin seem to have the same mission here.

We have two guys who seem fixated on undermining the credibility of the Department of Justice and the investigation. They seem to be playing from exactly the same playbook. And you have to wonder at what point is a responsible member of the admin administration going to come forward, and just from an intelligence standpoint, say, "Mr. President, your personal lawyer is going on television and making the exact points that Putin wants us to and that is really hurting our country."

[06:20:02] Well, he also made the point -- I mean, he just talked about his strategy and talked about why they're doing it. And Josh, what he said, what Rudy Giuliani said was it's for the court of public opinion. If we can get the public to believe this and on our side, then things get a lot easier. Here's Rudy Giuliani this weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI: They're giving us the material. I couldn't do it if I didn't have the material. Of course we have to do it in defending the president. h We're defending, to a large extent, remember, Dana, we're defending here, it is for public opinion. Because eventually the decision here is going to be impeach, not impeach, not impeach. So our jury is the, as it should be, is the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: As Dave just said, shockingly transparent.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: That's right. I mean, they are telling us exactly what they're doing, but that doesn't make it right. I mean, if I tell you that I'm doing something wrong, points for candor. But that still means I'm doing something wrong.

I think what we see here is, you know, these are people who are fighters. They don't like to be boxed in. And, you know, if you look at kind of the strategy we have seen, we'll just go out there and say we don't care about what happened legally. It's going to be the court of opinion, the court of public opinion.

If you look at the norms that we've talked about that have been destroyed, if you look at kind of the way they see the world. I mean, they look at things, in my judgment, like separation of powers, checks and balances as unfair constraints rather than the system that we live under. The norms are the same way. They see them as them as these guardrails that keep us safe. They see them as these barriers that we have to hurdle. So I think at the end of the day that's the strategy.

CAMEROTA: But he's also right. It does boil down to impeachment. It's about impeachment. BRIGGS: Because ultimately, it's a political charge.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

BRIGGS: Whatever happens.

VINOGRAD: But it also sounds like propaganda a little bit, though. I mean, we're talking about a P.R. strategy. And the president's personal lawyer is going on television and literally spewing inaccuracies. We could spend an entire segment dissecting everything that is wrong with what he said. That sounds like propaganda to me.

CAMPBELL: And I would just say that no one is criticizing him for offering a robust defense of his client. It's just the manner in which it's being done. I mean, they are tearing down law enforcement, trying to destroy the Department of Justice for this P.R. campaign, in order to discredit the investigators. That's going to cause lasting damage to the --

BRIGGS: Should we fault Rudy Giuliani for being honest about their approach?

CAMPBELL: This is a great new thing. We need to see more of this.

BRIGGS: He was stunningly transparent with Stormy, too. And, you know, maybe we should applaud it.

CAMEROTA: I suppose. Though that did get him into some trouble, or at least a complicated situation.

BRIGGS: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Here's what President Trump said about -- via Twitter, about the toll that the Russia investigation is taking on people's lives. "Who's going to give back the young and beautiful lives and others that have been" -- I guess the ugly and old -- "that have been devastated and destroyed by the phony Russia collusion witch-hunt? They journeyed down to Washington, D.C., with stars in their eyes and wanting to go help our nation. They went back home in tatters."

What's he talking about, Sam? Who's this that he's referring to?

VINOGRAD: I don't know. I mean, people that I don't feel bad for today are Paul Manafort, Papadopoulos, Page, and Rick Gates. The people that I am remembering today are the people that have been overseas and died serving our country. This tweet, quite simply, is a disgrace.

CAMPBELL: Can I just add, I'd say that on the -- you know, if you look at the merits of this, so he's right in the sense that there are challenges whenever you enter an orbit where people are under investigation.

But I think it's twofold. There's the reputational challenge that these people have taken, and then there's the financial challenge. The reputational challenge, like Sam said, I have no sympathy for

people who kind of entered the orbit of these people who are now under investigation, under indictment.

The financial aspect obviously is a little different. If you're coming to work and now you have to, you know, proffer a defense, that costs money.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

CAMPBELL: But that said, though, your former boss is a billionaire --

VINOGRAD: On Memorial Day, though. It's a false equivalency.

CAMPBELL: Well, you're -- no, you're right. Right.

Well, your former boss is a billionaire with buildings and a Boeing 757, so if you're now --

CAMEROTA: He could pay their legal defense?

CAMPBELL: That's right. If anything in his orbit costs that, then I would not be bashful asking.

CAMEROTA: I'm sorry to be so literal, but who are the young and beautiful lives? Paul Manafort?

BRIGGS: That's not the -- he had stars in his eyes when dealing with Ukraine.

CAMEROTA: I mean, no, seriously. George Papadopoulos? I can't even understand this.

BRIGGS: It is tough to figure out.

But at the heart of all of this is one thing. It's evidence. Here's what Marco Rubio said about actual evidence of this spy on the Trump campaign. Listen to what he said Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUBIO: As far as what I have seen to date, it appears that there was an investigation, not of the campaign but of certain individuals who have a history that we should be suspicious of that predate the presidential campaign of 2015, 2016. And when individuals like that are in the orbit of a major political campaign in America, the FBI, who is in charge of counterintelligence investigations, should look at people like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: OK. I was kidding about Rudy's honesty. But that's the type of honesty you'd probably applaud in this situation, Sam.

VINOGRAD: Certainly. And we have bipartisan consensus that no "there" there on this whole "Spygate" issue. We had a briefing, unfortunately, a few days ago on the Hill. We have Republicans and Democrats come out and say that there's no "there" there. And Mueller needs to continue his investigation, and we need to give him the space to do that.

[06:25:09] CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, what Marco Rubio seemed to be saying was that the FBI and DOJ was trying to protect the Trump campaign from people who may not have had their interests at heart like, you know, Russian stooges, basically.

CAMPBELL: That's right. And I think over the weekend on CNN, I think it was still -- one of the guests who said, let's picture this as a bank that's just been robbed. And the FBI comes in try to figure out what happened. Is there illegal activity? You know, no innocent person at the bank -- president will say, "You're investigating me. I'm under investigation."

Like "No. We're looking for criminal activity."

CAMEROTA: Thank you. No bank president says, "You're a spy" --

CAMPBELL: That's correct.

CAMEROTA: "-- coming into my bank to try to help."

All right. Thank you. Thank you very much, Sam, Josh.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, they're calling him a real-life Spider- Man. A young migrant from Mali scaling the outside of a building in Paris to save a young child dangling from a balcony. Unbelievable.

CAMEROTA: You have to see this.

BRIGGS: Heroic rescue.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my God.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)