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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

"Roseanne" Canceled After Star Unleashes Racist Twitter Rant; W.H. Won't Comment on "Roseanne" Cancelation. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 29, 2018 - 19:00   ET

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


[19:00:00] LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: -- Puerto Rico still does not officially, publicly have a clear understanding of who died when and why. Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Leyla, thank you. Leyla Santiago reporting. That's it for me. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, Roseanne fired. ABC is canceling the comedienne hit show hours after she posted racist tweets. And tonight, the White House is reacting.

Plus, Trump's new conspiracy theory now suggesting Robert Mueller is meddling in the midterms. Where is the proof?

And North Korea's former top spy now on his way to New York. What's he doing here?

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, Roseanne Barr. ABC pulling the plug on the comedienne's show, the network's highest rated and most watched series. The surprising turn of events coming in response to a racist tweet Barr put out early this morning suggesting that former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett is the offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood and planet of the apes.

By late this afternoon, ABC called the tirade abhorrent, repugnant, and inconsistent with the network's values and canceled the show. She was also dropped by her talent agency just as quickly.

As the outrage grew this morning, Barr said the tweet was a joke. She also deleted it and she also apologized and then said she was leaving Twitter. But the damage was done. Her co-stars turned on her. And at least one consulter producer Wanda Sykes quit the show. Barr is a vocal supporter of President Trump, and in return for that vocal support, the president has praised the actress, calling her on the phone, applauding her ratings and even saying at a recent rally her show was about him and his supporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look at "Roseanne", I called her yesterday. Look at her ratings, look at her ratings. I got a call from Mark Burnett, he did the "Apprentice", he's a great guy. He said Donald I called just to say hello and to tell you, did you see "Roseanne's" rating. I said, Mark, how big were they? They were unbelievable, over 18 million people and it was about us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Now, we of course are standing by to see if the president talks about this at all. He's on his way to another rally this time in Nashville. You're taking a look at it right there.

Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT live at the White House for us. So Jeff, what is the White House saying about this tonight?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, interestingly, as the president was flying to Tennessee just a couple of hours ago, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about this, of course, and she declined to comment. She repeatedly declined to comment when asked about various questions about this show. She said the president is focused on other matters. The economy, the military, North Korea. So she repeatedly declined to comment.

But in making that decision, it is in fact a choice to not comment specifically on the substance of the comments from Roseanne Barr. Of course, Valerie Jarrett is someone who worked in this administration throughout eight years of the Obama Administration. A bit unusual perhaps for this White House to not comment about this substance of that.

So we will see this evening if the president says anything at all at the rally in Tennessee. It's hard to imagine he would not. But aides that I have spoken to said they simply don't know. They don't know if he's going to down this hole or not.

He often waits a few days to see how the winds are blowing on something like this. But as of now, the White House is not saying anything declining comment on this. But surely the president took, you know, such pleasure in these high ratings. He watches the ratings. At some point, Kate, he'll have something to say. Kate?

BOLDUAN: We'll see. It could be some point, could be very, very soon. Thank you, Jeff, appreciate it.

ZELENY: Watch your Twitter.

BOLDUAN: Watch your Twitter feed.

OUTFRONT now, White House Correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks April Ryan, former Republican candidate for New York governor and a friend of Donald Trump for more than 15 years, Rob Astorino, and former Clinton White House aide Keith Boykin. Thanks all for being here. Rob, so, as Jeff played out, Sarah Sanders doesn't want to touch this at all. It seems very clear. When they want to take on a topic they're happy to do it. Otherwise she clearly was trying to distract by saying there are bigger things to discuss here.

But do you think Donald Trump needs to address this, needs to say something this considering his applause of her in the past and what he said about her show?

ROB ASTORINO, FRIEND OF PRESIDENT TRUMP FOR OVER 15 YEARS: Well, it would be easy if they just took the air out of the balloon and just said it's a stupid comment which it was. I mean, Roseanne Barr is a dimwit. She really is. But she's popular on T.V. because she got a funny show.

When I started watching the show not because of -- it was considered a Trump show or anything like that, because I used to watch it and I did like the fact that actually there was some give and take on both sides. Which for a conservative watching on T.V., you never see that. So that's why I think there was an appeal to the show.

But, the rest of the show, the rest of the series was basically just a sitcom.

[19:05:03] I think, you know, there's a complete and double standard here right now. And Bob Iger I think is going to really hate the words he just re-tweeted today because it doesn't share ABC's values. OK, I agree with that. Those are terrible words.

However, Joy Behar says something awful all the time to conservatives and to many people. She basically said, if you're a Christian because she used Mike Pence, it's basically a mental illness. She went on and on. She called the Trump accusers -- I'm sorry, the Bill Clinton accusers tramps.

So there are many things that she says. Paula Deen used the "n" word and she was fired. And then all of a sudden she is dancing on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." So I think there's a complete another double standard here. And, you know, ABC is going to have to deal with that.

BOLDUAN: Keith, what do you think?

KEITH BOYKIN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE UNDER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: I think this is an inappropriate response from the president of the United States, from Sarah Huckabee Sanders not to say anything about it. I don't think the president is going to avoid the issue tonight.

It's not really about whether there's a double standard as Rob is suggesting. This is about basic decency. This is racist comment that Roseanne Barr made, and everyone could tell that it is racist that's why she was fired so quickly.

But the idea that somehow she was even hired is troubling. And it -- the only life point for me or the good point out of this is because there were -- there was a black woman involved, Channing Dungy who fired her. That had to have some sort of impact and it emphasizes the importance of having diversity in the media and the workplace.

But, this is huge, big missed opportunity for Donald Trump. He should talk about it. But again, like he didn't talk about Charlottesville until he said that there were very fine people on both sides, he didn't talk about -- he didn't condemn the KKK. And when it came to the Waffle House situation with the Waffle House hero, he never tweeted about it.

So Trump has a history of saying selective things when he wants to say things that cater to his racist base.

ASTORINO: But why was this all about Donald Trump today? This was Roseanne Barr making a stupid, awful comment.

(CROSSTALK)

APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: -- that he is supporting in the show. Yes, he's supporting Roseanne Barr, talking about her great ratings. His former producer from the "Apprentice" called this in, look at this, look at this. Roseanne Barr is a Donald Trump supporter. That show is very political, it's --

ASTORINO: It's not that political.

RYAN: -- political side against the other. But it is very -- the first show was very political.

ASTORINO: On both sides.

RYAN: Her sister -- she and her sister can't even get along because her sister supported Hillary. Whatever. Moving on.

So here's the bottom line, if the president -- OK, whatever you think that is. But here's the thing, if the president doesn't say anything this evening, his silence will be deafening. The question is if he says something, will it be appropriate or will it stir up the base?

Now, here's another thing, this president has to be very mindful and this White House. Sarah Huckabee Sanders was absolutely correct in what she did by not saying anything because this White House is currently working on a heart piece that Jared Kushner has been pushing, that's prison reform minus sentencing reform and they're also talking about an urban agenda.

They have to be very careful in what they said because the black leaders that are working with them quietly may turn on them. This is serious. And I talked to Valerie Jarrett this morning, she's a very good friend of mine and I -- you know, I called to see if she was OK, she said I'm fine, and she was very thankful for the support.

She didn't even have the do anything. She did nothing. She doesn't even understand how it even happened but she saw the people on Twitter supporting her. ABC did the right thing and it was a good day for goodness. BOLDUAN: Hold on. Let me actually play Valerie Jarrett after speaking to you, she spoke out and she did respond for the first time publicly this afternoon to all of this that has happened. Listen to what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VALERIE JARRETT, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, I think we have to turn it into a teaching moment. I'm fine. I'm worried about the people out there who don't have a circle of friends and followers who come right to their defense. The person who's walking down the street minding their own business and they say somebody clings to their purse or walk across the street. Those ordinary examples of racism that happen every single day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: What does this mean, April, for Donald Trump, do you think, what you just heard from Valerie?

RYAN: He might listen to what Valerie Jarrett has to say, but he's going to do his own thing. This president has not corrected his stance on issues of race yet. You know, they are trying -- they're walking this fine line trying to deal with this urban agenda and prison reform. But you got to understand -- and this is one thing too, they're going to do prison reform without sentencing reform. They're look fraternal twins.

So here's the bottom line, when it comes to matters of race, this president is going to have to if he wants to be the umbrella for all America, he's going to have to stop this rhetoric and stop trying to just focus in on that racist component. For example, just before the NFL said about the -- about how they are going to make -- the players are not allowed to kneel, the president brought that back up to the NASCAR group, people who are his base. White people who support him who are in Middle America.

[19:10:16] This president is going to have to stop the rhetoric because there is a definite divide here. Roseanne Barr did exactly what many of those in that base are doing. I mean, over the weekend, people said the same thing to me about something that Fox News got wrong about me.

So the bottom line is, this has got to stop because it is ramping up and it's very dangerous and it's creating an unsafe atmosphere.

BOLDUAN: Rob, do you agree?

ASTORINO: I'm not you. You know, this is why --

RYAN: Time out.

ASTORINO: -- let me speak for people like me who are like me who find these comments disgusting, they're abhorrent, they're the worst.

RYAN: Good. ASTORINO: There's no question about it. But then a line is drawn by if you voted for Trump then you by proxy agree with this or if you liked "Roseanne" the show you by proxy agree with this. That's ridiculous.

RYAN: I didn't say that. I did not say that. I said there is a group of people who support those kind of things in that Trump camp. Now don't say there are not because I can show you --

(CROSSTALK)

ASTORINO: Does that mean all Democrats agree with Louis Farrakhan?

RYAN: No, they don't. Because I'm black, do you suppose that I supported Barack Obama?

(CROSSTALK)

ASTORINO: Why is Joy Behar on ABC every morning?

BOLDUAN: Hold on.

BOYKIN: Why are you trying to change the subject from Donald Trump (INAUDIBLE) with Roseanne Barr.

RYAN: It is Roseanne Barr -- yes, let's --

(CROSSTALK)

BOYKIN: The topic is Donald Trump supporting Roseanne Barr. Roseanne supporting Donald Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

ASTORINO: There's not many conservative actors, so we only get a few and she turns out to be a dimwit.

BOYKIN: Well, it says a lot about the conservative movement.

ASTORINO: No, no. It says a lot about Hollywood and the double standard I just talked about.

BOLDUAN: Do you think there is a double standard that that --

RYAN: But the president supported this.

BOLDUAN: Hold on, April. Keith, do you think there's a double standard? I mean, what Keith is -- what Rob is saying is not something that I have not heard before. I hear this quite often. That there's outsized outrage to -- when -- to what -- it's not outsized outrage because there is appropriate outrage you're saying to what Roseanne said. But there is an unequal amount of outrage on the other side when something (INAUDIBLE).

BOYKIN: Well --

BOLDUAN: Do you think --

BOYKIN: -- there's so many different stances you have take piece by piece. Remember Jemele Hill who's also --

BOLDUAN: Well, maybe -- it is maybe that the point that it is piece by piece -- this situation (INAUDIBLE).

BOYKIN: I'm not even saying that. But I'm just saying -- I'm saying Rob's point doesn't make any sense. I mean --

(CROSSTALK)

ASTORINO: -- she said racist things --

BOYKIN: I was going to point out that Jemele Hill was suspended for her job and she's an African-American woman. And ABC -- (INAUDIBLE) ABC Network too. I don't think that you can say ABC is just picking on Trump supporters. That's not true. But the problem is, there is an inconsistency. And what we should be concerned about is the consistency that comes from the White House and the president.

Again, this is the White House that would not apologize for saying offensive things about John McCain dying. They would not apologize about not calling John McCain a war hero. They're not apologizing for five and a half years about lying about President Obama's birth certificate.

But demands an apology because Michelle Wolff, a comedienne says something at the White House correspondents dinner. Demands apologies whenever a con -- whenever a liberal says something that they don't like.

But the difference is you have to take into account when somebody is speaking truth to power and someone when -- as compared when someone is powerful and speaking against someone who does not have power. Black people in this country do not have power. So the idea of the president of the United States or the president's friend who are saying things that are critical about black people, calling black women an ape on more than one occasion. She said about this Susan Rice as well.

RYAN: Exactly.

BOYKIN: That's offensive. And that is something the president of the United States should condemn.

BOLDUAN: But when the president very often enjoys entering into -- let's just call -- it's a cultural conversation, kneeling -- standing or kneeling at a football game, talking about ratings, whatever, he opens himself up to when you applaud a T.V. star and that T.V. star says a bunch of racist stuff, why not take the opportunity and call it out, right?

ASTORINO: Well -- Like Joy Behar when she said things about Mike Pence. Mike Pence took the call, accepted the apology --

RYAN: Why do you keep going to Joy Behar and not dealing with Roseanne Barr.

ASTORINO: No, because this is only (INAUDIBLE). Because when Joy Behar --

BOYKIN: Mike Pence is the vice president of the United States.

(CROSSTALK)

BOYKIN: He's not threatened by Joy Behar.

RYAN: Roseanne Barr, focus. Focus. Focus. Roseanne Barr, come on back. Come on back. Let's bring you back. Come on.

BOLDUAN: April, hold on. Rob, this is -- do you see it as an opportunity tonight? Because I see it as an -- do you see it as a missed opportunity that Sarah Sanders didn't call it out this evening?

ASTORINO: I think it was a missed opportunity. It's a lay-up. It should be done immediately. Just repudiate those stupid comments. They're not defendable. They're not.

[19:15:01] BOYKIN: But the reason why she didn't I think April got the point right is because -- also, that's just because of the sensitivity about the prison reform issue. Because she doesn't really know what Donald Trump is going to say the next hour when he speaks in Tennessee.

RYAN: Right, exactly.

BOYKIN: He's probably going to say something crazy about Roseanne in defense of her (INAUDIBLE) about again tomorrow. And if people say, why are talking about this (INAUDIBLE), it's because Donald Trump keeps raising these stupid cultural issues and forcing us to talk about it.

ASTORINO: What happens if another network puts up a show which --

RYAN: But if we go back to last August in Charlottesville, if we go back to last August in Charlottesville, if we go back to -- if we go last August in Charlottesville, this president does not get the issue of race right. He did it at least five or six times. He couldn't get it right. When he was in front of a teleprompter we were like, whoo, the nation is OK. But when he started speaking extemporaneously, we were like, what in the world?

This president does not -- he has Archie Bunker moments when he thinks he's OK. And it's not OK as the president of the United States of America. We are still trying to form a more perfect union, but there is a divide on matters of race. And this president is the moral leader. He has supported Roseanne Barr, and if he says something tonight I pray that there is a script.

ASTORINO: Me too.

BOYKIN: We'll look at that. BOLDUAN: Thank you so much. Let's discuss this much more. And everyone stay tuned and what your Twitter feed as she looks down to check her Twitter feed.

OUTFRONT next, more on our breaking news. Is Roseanne Barr's sudden firing -- it was swift, it was surprising. Is this a sign of a major cultural shift, though?

Plus, we're learning tonight exactly what took place in the hours before ABC fired Roseanne Barr and the show. We're going to be taking you live to discuss it.

And breaking news, the White House is saying its prepared for President Trump's summit with North Korea to take place. But there's a catch, there's always this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:20:24] BOLDUAN: Breaking news, you're looking at live pictures out of Tennessee. Moments away from seeing President Trump. He is about to speak at that rally. And it could be the first time the first comments coming from the president about ABC canceling Roseanne Barr's show over offensive tweets. It's a show that Trump has praised in the past and said that the show was about his supporters and him. And he took credit for its ratings.

But earlier today, the White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, she wouldn't comment about the cancelation or about Roseanne Barr's comment on Twitter.

OUTFRONT now, the host of CNN TONIGHT, Don Lemon and Entertainment Tonight host, Nischelle Turner.

Don, what do you think? Is this about Roseanne Barr? Is this something bigger at this point?

DON LEMON, ANCHOR, CNN TONIGHT: Both. But it really is about Roseanne Barr. I mean, Roseanne Barr is a bigot, it's a racist. Her tweets are language which she said in the past.

What she just said recently over Twitter. It's evidence of that. So let's call it what it is and let's -- you know, don't say it's racially tinged, don't say it's offensive. It's racist. It is offensive but it's racist behavior. And she's exhibited it for a while.

Not only racist behavior but bigoted behavior. Anti-Semitic behavior, homophobic behavior on and on. And she continues to get these opportunities? Why that does happen?

That doesn't happen for a lot of people. That doesn't happen especially for people of color. So why does Roseanne continue to get another opportunity after another opportunity after opportunity when she has exhibited such awful racist behavior? That's a good question.

But I think the bigger picture is about -- as Valerie Jarrett said and I said it even before her. This is about every day racism, the normalizing of every day racism and bigotry and hatred and conspiracy theories. That this president does that, Roseanne repeats it, and she promotes it as well. They're doing the same thing.

Let's not forget they start it as a conspiracy theory, some of the same conspiracy theories that people who are in support of this president also promote and believe themselves. So it's all connected. It's about Roseanne but it's also about a bigger picture.

BOLDUAN: And Roseanne show -- I mean, this was -- the show was huge, Nischelle.

NISCHELLE TURNER, ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT HOST: Yes.

BOLDUAN: And in March "Roseanne" was a known commodity. It's not like this popped out of nowhere what she says on Twitter. I think they even made jokes about it even during up front about her Twitter feed. But back when the show was getting launched, she is actually -- in March she has said that she hoped that the show's return would create, in her words civil conversation. Listen to this.

TURNER: Right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSEANNE BARR, ACTOR, "ROSEANNE": I really hope that it opens up, you know, civil conversation between people instead of just mudslinging. I really do because I think we need to be more civilized than that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TURNER: Practice what you preach, Roseanne.

BOLDUAN: Nischelle, she had a real opportunity with this show, with huge viewership --

TURNER: Yes.

BOLDUAN: -- I mean -- and come on.

TURNER: Well, she did have a real opportunity. And like you said, the show debuted to 18 million viewers. I mean, President Trump loves to say that number, 18 million viewers. And it did fall off a little bit to average t around 10 million viewers which is still a lot of people watching network television in this time and space when there's so many choices. And the show did spark conversation.

I mean -- listen, I'm from rural Missouri. There were a lot of things on the show that I recognized as conversations going on within my family, within families that I know. Questions about jobs, you know, foreclosures, what do we do here? Why did I go this way and vote for Trump? All of those conversations are being had.

So, that's very relevant, and it was actually a good idea for ABC to go after that audience. Because when you talk about diversity and being inclusive then you do have to do it all. You know, right, left, black, white, rich, poor, all of it. So it was a good idea for them to go after it.

Was it a good idea for them to embrace her, obviously they're saying no, you know, in this day and age. But it's just a very interesting -- John made -- John -- excuse me, Don made -- I just spoke with someone named John. But Don made a really interesting point that it's symptomatic of, you know, a larger issue and a larger problem in America today.

LEMON: And listen, I think Nischelle is right. This -- people -- a lot of people who watch this show believe that they are not heard, that it's a forgotten man. You know, that's what we heard the entire election that this is about economic society, this is about a forgotten man even though every single poll, every single study shows that it was really about race. So I'm just being honest to you. I know that people get mad at me and they say, oh, you're racist. I'm just telling the truth. This is what the facts show.

So if you are -- if you believe you are the forgotten man and woman, then when I -- I want to bring it back to the forgotten man and woman when it comes to the people who are victims of racism.

[19:25:04] Those are the forgotten men and women as well. Roseanne will be fine. Roseanne has millions of dollars to cry on.

TURNER: Eight million dollars.

LEMON: She will be completely fine. But the every day racism, the things that have happen every day, the people who -- in jobs, they don't get promoted, they are -- they don't get respected. They have lack of opportunity when it comes to housing, they have lack of opportunity when it comes to jobs and on and on.

And as Valerie Jarrett said, the person who -- the young men who walks down the street and someone grabs their purse. All of those things. So, if you want to be the -- if you want to be forgotten man or the unheard man to be heard that you just think about the other folks who are unheard as well. The people whose ancestors came over on slave ships and who never got the opportunity for an education or to build wealth. Those are the forgotten and unheard people as well.

BOLDUAN: But Don, let me ask you. So we got --

TURNER: Yes.

BOLDUAN: -- you've got -- "Roseanne" is a known commodity. Donald Trump is a known commodity as well. Donald Trump was saying, you pick the way you want to discuss it. Racial incentive remark, disparaging remarks --

LEMON: Racist.

BOLDUAN: -- racist. Before the election, before he was a candidate and even -- and after the election, do you think it is wrong -- I want to get you both on this, Don, for folks who -- because I just heard it from Rob Astorino when he said what Roseanne said was absolutely horrific -- TURNER: Yes.

BOLDUAN: -- don't connect to it to the president, though, that's a step too far.

LEMON: Go ahead. You're going to first, Nischelle.

TURNER: Yes. Well, I do agree with that in theory. It did not come out of the president's mouth. If you're just taking this literally, then, no, don't connect it to the president. I think though that because the president has embraced Roseanne, and all the things that we know she's already said, he embraced her as somebody that he likes, that cares about, they have a relationship, they have a friendship, they talk.

BOLDUAN: They talked in the phone.

TURNER: She's a supporter. Exactly. I think that it's hard not to liken those two and not to go back to that. And when he's saying out loud 18 million people, that is us, then he is believing inclusive that. She didn't push that away either when he said it. She didn't say, no, no, no, let's not equate us together. She said, oh I talked to him, he's a great guy.

So, it is hard to separate the two of them when they have in fact with the two of them together. ABC took a gamble here. It's a gamble that did not pay off. They knew that they were in risky territory. Just a couple of weeks ago upfront, Channing Dungey was talking about, listen, we're going to put the politics aside in Season 2. We're going to focus more on family and not politics. Well, it was politics that got the show canceled.

LEMON: You can't say they understand us so they get us. And then now want to be completely divorce from it. You can't say --

BOLDUAN: That was big volumes of -- and he's very likely could.

LEMON: Yes. And you can't say there are fine people on both sides. You cannot say racist things, encourage people to get punched at your rallies --

BOLDUAN: But, Don, you can, though, he did.

TURNER: And he does.

LEMON: But you cannot say that -- I'm talking about the folks who are saying this has nothing to do with the president. You cannot say that and then have him say and do and exhibit all the behaviors that he exhibits. And then all of a sudden, you want to be disconnected from it. It doesn't work that way.

Logic does not work that way. This is -- again, the normalization of conspiracy theories and racism. And we cannot allow that to happen. It will hurt -- it is hurting the fabric of American society. People who are racist don't know they're racist. Or they say that they believe that people are going to believe that they're not racist simply because they say it is.

I think we need a crash course in exactly what racism is. And again, this president is trafficking in it just as Roseanne did.

BOLDUAN: The start with Roseanne Barr today might very well end with Donald Trump tonight. Let's see.

Don, thank you.

TURNER: We should see what he says tonight. No kidding.

BOLDUAN: Nischelle, thanks so much.

LEMON: And if he says nothing that speaks volumes. Because he jumped on the Roseanne bandwagon with the ratings, and they represent us. And if he says nothing, well, he wants to embrace one part and not the other, he should be saying something tonight. He should be denouncing it, was he should be doing and saying, you know what, I need to do better as the leader of the country.

BOLDUAN: Thank you guys.

OUTFRONT next, more on our breaking news. ABC calling Roseanne's racist tweet abhorrent, repugnant. Tonight, we are learning exactly what led to the network's decision to end this top-rated show.

Plus, President Trump now accusing Robert Mueller of meddling in the November midterms already. What's behind his newest conspiracy theory?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:32:52] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news, ABC making the stunning decision to cancel its top comedy show after its star Roseanne Barr tweeted a racist remark about former Obama aide Valery Jarrett. So how exactly did this all go down today? Brian Stelter is OUTFRONT right now. Brian, this has been an extraordinary change of events today. How did it all go down?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I've never seen anything like this. Disney executives woke up early in the morning to these overnight tweets from Roseanne Barr, these racist and anti- semitic tweets.

There were some quick phone calls and e-mails exchanged between ABC and Disney executives. And pretty quickly there is a conclusion that this was in the words of one source, unsurvivable, that Roseanne Barr couldn't come back from this. There'd be no apology or suspension or like half measure that would satisfy the anger over this.

One of the questions Disney executives asked themselves was what happens if she does stay on the air, well, advertisers would likely shun the program, there could be impacts to other shows as well, even had some cast members, some colleagues of Barr's start to call up their agents and say I'm not sure I want to be part of the show. So early in today it was clear Disney how to pull the plug shortly before 2:00 p.m. Eastern time and the network did so. And I'm told now at ABC there's a sense of pride in how this was handled. There is, however, that question you've been talking about why the show was ordered in the first place, why the company got back in business with Barr in the first place.

BOLDUAN: This seems somewhat without precedent how something that happened, a tweet that happened off camera and not having to do with the show leading to the cancellation of the show, especially a top rated show.

STELTER: That's why it's absolutely head spinning in Hollywood. There is not a precedent for this. Partly speaks to the power of Twitter, it also speaks to the sensitive moment where in -- in America where race, an issues about race or at the forefront. I think we're also looking how corporate America wants to be seen as being on the right side of history and not falling behind. It's not ABC today, Hulu, Paramount were both rerunning episodes of Roseanne. Well, not anymore, not tonight. Those are going away as well.

BOLDUAN: Oh those out fitting a race just as quickly as they got on. Brian, stick with me. I want to bring with -- bring in right now Steven Zeitchik, he covers the business of entertainment for "The Washington Post." He's joining us right now by phone. Steven, does this move by ABC surprise you?

[19:35:08] STEVEN ZEITCHIK, ENTERTAINMET BUSINESS WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: well, Kate, I think anytime Hollywood does something that is probably the right thing, it's a little bit surprising. So in that regard, yes, it was a little bit surprising. And certainly the speed in which it happens I think Brian is right on target. When, you know, the speed in which it happened that's something that I think took a lot of us who covered industry by surprise.

One I think I think the caveat I was kind of throw into all of this is not just the fact they got into business with her in the first place as you pointed out, but the fact that ABC is kind of went a bit both ways on Roseanne for a while. This is a show that's had incredible viewership success. I don't think a single episode that this season dropped below 10 million which is unheard for a network show in this day and age.

And I think a lot of that or at least a good portion of that was driven by the fact that Roseanne was constantly in the news generating free publicity because of her outrageous tweets. So they were somewhat benefiting from some of her provocation throughout the season. Obviously this went too far. But to say they did the right thing is I think is accurate. But to some people they might have also done a little too late.

BOLDUAN: Brian, we haven't heard from Roseanne Barr. A lot of people haven't heard from Roseanne Barr, unless you think you're going to?

STELTER: That's right. Not since this morning when she apologized to Valerie Jarrett. It was just, you know, it's a single tweet, not many people thought she was being very sincere. I am told she was working on a statement earlier today. She may or may not issue that to her publicist tonight. But she was working on a statement of contrition. There was a -- I would suspect pretty awkward conversation that had to happen by phone between an ABC boss and Roseanne earlier in the day. She knew ahead of time the show was getting canceled but her colleagues didn't. Her producers, cast members were caught off guard just like the public.

I do think ABC executives were hoping that the reward outweighed the risk. That bringing her back, bringing the show back there would be a huge financial reward, huge cultural reward to help she would tone down her tweets, drop the conspiracy theories. She was unable or unwilling to do that. And that's not just about Roseanne. A lot of Americans are susceptible that kind of conspiracy theory thinking. In this case it's pro-Trump, anti-Obama stuff. That's not going away just because Roseanne is going off the air.

BOLDUAN: Oh that's the truth. Yes, that would be right. It will just find a different home. Thanks guys. I really appreciate it.

OUTFRONT for us next we have breaking news on President Trump's North Korea summit. The White House says they will be prepared for a sit down but only if Kim Jong-un agrees to a crucial detail.

Plus President Trump is pushing a new conspiracy theory, now they're on the topic, saying special counsel Robert Mueller will interfere in the November election and that's sparking outrage tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:41:19] BOLDUAN: Breaking news, President Trump is ready to meet with North Korea's Kim Jong-un on June 1t2th. And according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders he thinks the discussions are "going very well." To be clear, that's just two weeks away and just five days since President Trump canceled that very same meeting.

The State Department also confirming tonight that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet a former top spy from North Korea in New York this week. His name is Kim Yong Chol. He'll be the most senior North Korean official to visit the U.S. since 2000. He's Kim Jong-un's right-hand man and he's linked to the 2014 Sony hack.

Senior diplomatic correspondent Michelle Kosinski is OUTFRONT for us now. Michelle, how critical is this meeting? How is this get the president to a meeting on June 12th?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DEPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Well, it seems like the way things have been going in this compressed period of time with sort of the lower level meetings happening almost the same time as the highest level meetings. This seems like the last step before both sides say, if they're going to say it, if they are indeed ready for a Trump-Kim summit.

So, the State Department secretary, Kim Jong-un's right-hand man, there going to be a meeting for not very long a time. I mean from our knowledge Kim Yong Chol doesn't get in New York until tomorrow night. But Mike Pompeo has plans to go back to D.C. the next day.

Unclear when these meetings are going to take place, who exactly is going to be involved, how long they'll be. But plans could always change, too. It's clear to us that things have gone well and the talks between the U.S. and North Korea that has been happening in North Korea, in the demilitarized zone.

If something that was holding that up or if they went poorly then you can be sure that Kim Yong Chol probably wouldn't be currently on his way to New York City. We are hearing tonight, though, from the source with familiarity with the discussion.

What the U.S. is looking for at the summit between Trump and Kim if it does happen is some big gesture from the North Korean. They're not looking for this to just be a handshake. They want to see the North Koreans actually do something, and that could be something like making an absolute commitment or signing on the line to get rid of some of their nuclear weapons immediately, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Fascinating. All right, Michelle thanks so much. OUTFRONT with me now former Pyongyang bureau chief for the Associated Press, Jean Lee. Jean, the White House says tonight the 12th really is possible still, surprising a lot since just five days ago. He said it was going to go happen. Could they be ready in time for the meeting by then?

JEAN LEE, FORMER PYONGYANG BUREAU CHIEF, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Two weeks is not a long of time. Normally these types of events, historic summit like this would take months if not years of preparation at lower levels. But if there's anything that we've seen in the past couple of days the South Korean leader and North Korean leader showed they can do it, they can hold a summit in a matter of hours, and we're seeing the political will for it. There's so much activity going on right now in three different places. We're going to have these meetings in New York, meetings in the DMZ and the logical meetings in Singapore, so certainly thing that ramping up.

And so whether or not they're prepared or as prepared is we would like for them to be I think they're going to push forward with this as much as they can.

BOLDUAN: And Jean, as Michelle Kosinski was just reporting the White House is looking for a big gesture is how she's putting it if they get to the table. What do you think that gesture could be?

LEE: I think it's quite possible that Kim Yong Chol who is aide to Kim Jong-un, is the man who help with him strategy and also representing him at these summits and at these meetings with high level officials that he may be coming with some sort of offer proposal, perhaps he's coming with a letter that has some sort of gesture.

But I'm not going to speculate about what that is but this is -- Kim Jong-un is a man who understands the power of a dramatic moment so perhaps he's got something up his sleeve.

BOLDUAN: Om goodness, that's the tease. Jean, thank you so much. I appreciate it. Let's see if that (INAUDIBLE) tomorrow.

[19:45:13] OUTFRONT next, President Trump out with a new and bogus claim about election meddling by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Plus Rudy Giuliani spending his birthday at Yankee Stadium. Only the former mayor not getting the greeting that he's probably wished for.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIED MALE: The New York Yankees wish a very happy birthday to Mayor Giuliani.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Tonight the art of the conspiracy theorist. President Trump taking his Mueller investigation conspiracy theories to a whole new level, now claiming Mueller not Russia will be meddling in the mid- term elections. Yet again without evidence. Tweeting this, "The 13 angry Democrats plus people who worked eight years for Obama working on the rigged Russia witch hunt will be meddling with the mid-term elections. Especially now that Republicans, stay strong, stay tough, I mean, are taking the lead in the polls. There was no collusion except by the Democrats."

This is one of 14 times in the past four days the president has tweeted an attack of it Russia investigation. The reason he sent this latest flurry of tweets may be because the more he says it, the more he hears an echo.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONANLD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Everybody sees it now and it is a pure witch hunt. Right now it's a pure witch hunt.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "HANNITY": Well, it is a witch hunt. The one year anniversary of this Mueller witch hunt and so far the special counsel has not provided a single shred of evidence of any collusion.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: And collusion is not against the law. It is and has been from the beginning a witch hunt created by cabal frantic to keep its hold on power.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: And the team Trump admitted this weekend they think it's working.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: Of course we have to do it in defending the president. We're defending -- to a large extent, remember, Dana, we're defending here it is of public opinion because eventually the decision here is going to be impeach, not impeach.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT tonight, Patrick Healy, politics editor at the New York Times, and Renato Mariotti, former federal prosecutor. Great to see you both. So Patrick, as you said, between Friday and this morning, 14 tweets on the Russia probe. It's rigged. It's a witch hunt. Things that he said in the past. And no matter if it's true or not true. Fact or fiction when there is still no proof, should anyone think he will be letting up regardless of the backlash?

[19:50:13] PATRICK HEALY, POLITICS EDITOR, NEW YORK TIMES: No. I think this his midterm election strategy. You know, for months Republicans have been very worried that the Democrats have so much energy and enthusiasm and compelling candidates and messaging for the midterm elections. And they've been looking at the White House and seeing there is no Karl Rove, there is no great Republican brain there kind of running politics in the midterm. And they seem to be settled on this strategy, to run guest the Mueller investigation is something that will really energize the base. And now they're even using words very consciously like meddling.

I mean it brings, you know, a lot of people what happened in 2016 when our intelligence agencies said Russia meddled --

BOLDUAN: That's the only time that people using. No one else is throwing out meddling.

HEALY: Exactly. And he is going for it. I mean, you know, audacious is on old word where Trump is concerned but he is, you know, willing to say anything and kind of do anything on political strategy. And this is where he's going. Because the Republicans have been so -- they've been frustrated that they haven't had a political strategy and the reality is, look, the reality if they get the Mueller report and ultimately becomes a question of impeachment in the fall because Mueller as we know is really, he's not going to indict President Trump and it becomes an impeachment question, the Republicans can run on that if they say this has been a witch hunt and this has been meddling and now it's about voting our president out of office. I mean that is a message that can energize the base. I don't think you can get you a lot of undecided voters.

BOLDUAN: But messaging might be the whole ball game, Renato. I mean let me play more on what Rudy Giuliani said over the weekend on why they continue to try discredit the Mueller investigation. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI: We are defending to a large extent, remember, Dana, we are defending here, it is for public opinion, because eventually the decision here is going to be impeach, and not impeach. Remember the Congress, Democrat and Republican, I'm going to be informed a lot by their constituents. So a jury, as it should be, is the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: I think actually this is an important admission from team Trump. I mean is he right? Is the only thing that matter is public opinion?

RENATO MARIOTTI, FMR FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I would tell you Kate, it is. I agree that it is a telling admission. I think it's a rare moment of very frank honesty from the Trump team and what they are betting on is that Mueller won't indict the president. You know, it is an open legal question whether a sitting president could be indicted. But most scholars think that ultimately, you know, Mueller won't do that. Mot legal thinkers believe that because the justice department had an position or position for a while that is a sitting president can't be indicted.

So, Trump's team is trying to play the jury like he just said a moment ago, where there's a effective political strategy, effective legal strategy because the jurors are Republican senators. The issue, though, of course, is in a real courtroom, you would have a guardian of the truth and a judge that would not allow you to make up falsehoods and conspiracy theories. And so what we have here is essentially a jury of sorts that is allowed to the influenced by false hoods, because ultimately senators are going to do what their constituents believe even if they are being misled.

BOLDUAN: Remarkable moment we're in. Including this. Patrick, another falsehood promoted by the president this weekend was by your paper.

HEALY: Right.

BOLDUAN: He tweeted -- he falsely accused the New York Times essentially of making up a source in the White House. The president tweeting, the failing New York Times quotes 'a senior White House official' does exist." But the senior White House official does exist and did speak to New York Times and also large group of reporters in addition.

Tonight, Sarah Sanders was asked about it and she explained it this way, "Obviously the president knows his team but something in their story was completely out of context and wasn't that official said."

HEALY: You know, we have Sarah Sanders now confirming that there was a source. So the president is wrong on that whether he was lying outright or he cexpressing a falsehood, you know, out of the loop. We don't know.

BOLDUAN: This thing was ridiculously make up. A ridiculous thing to try to explain away.

HEALY: Well, look, when he tweets we know now, it's not a great deal of forethought or evidence based tweeting that is, you know, often going on here. You know, but the bigger thing is now, you know, several days later, they have come out and they've admitted that there was an official who was giving this briefing to a large amount of people and the official said, you know, June 12th is 10 minutes away basically regarding the summit. You know, the notion is that they -- this would be impassible to plan for. This would be -- that's what everybody knows, that's what that kind of comment means and they can spin it however they want. But there was a source. That was accurate. The president was wrong in it. And, you know, it's very clear that basically that the White House saying this is impossible to do, 10 minutes. Can't do a summit with 10-minute plan.

[19:55:02] BOLDUAN: You can. You watch. You watch and wait. Let me ask you this, Renato. So the New York Times, Patrick Healy Can speak out. The reporters of the New York Times can speak out to correct the record and to defend themselves when under attacked by the president. But you've also been have very different situation when it comes to Robert Mueller. Are investigators paying attention to what the president tweets and the attacks coming from president and team Trump. I mean, do they take that in?

MARIOTTI: No question. Yes, no question. You know, when I was a federal prosecutor, I would pay attention. I handled cases that were discussed in the press and I would pay attention to that. I have had times where the defense team would attack me personally and you pay attention to it.

What's really unusual here is look, when an investigation is ongoing before there is an indictment, prosecutors do not speak, that's typically how they operate. They don't say anything until there is an indictment. But usually the people on the other side don't want to piss off the prosecutor, OK? They're not going to attack the prosecutor. They're hoping the prosecutors not going to indict, not going to bring charges.

What's interesting here is they've already concluded that Mueller is not going to indict. He's going to go to Congress. And they're just -- they don't even care about convincing Mueller. They're going right to the jury, so to speak as Giuliani mentioned a minute ago, to the constituents, to the House and Senate, to try to work that out.

BOLDUAN: I'm getting some breaking news and actually just right now. Patrick from your paper, the New York Times, just reporting tonight that in Marc of 2017 Attorney General Jeff Sessions flew to Florida shortly after he recuse himself (INAUDIBLE) from the Russian investigation, to meet with Trump. According to the Times, Trump raided Sessions and told him he should reverse his decision and unusual and potentially inappropriate request. Session refused. The confrontation which has not been previously reported is being investigated by special counsel now, Robert Mueller. That is fascinating.

HEALY: Yes. That's really interesting. I mean what it goes on is just -- let's going to remember the first year of the Trump presidency is have furious Donald Trump was about Jeff Session recusing himself --

BOLDUAN: And to openly discuss it.

HEALY: Openly discuss it and then basically spending months torturing the guy.

BOLDUAN: And he's doing his job.

HEALY: Getting him a great (INAUDIBLE) shame him into it. But this is great reporting and it really goes to how President Trump was very much trying to use whatever word you want, but at least very much like influence or strong arm his on attorney general into basically not recusing himself from the point of view that he knew what would be coming down the line to the possibility of a special counsel getting appointed but something he wanted his attorney general to protect him. I'm not offering a little of bit analysis there, but that is -- I mean that is sort of him going to Sessions putting pressure.

BOLDUAN: Renato, what do you make of that? Why do you think this is of interest to Robert Mueller?

MARIOTTI: I think -- for me, it's fairly straightforward. You know, here you have the president making a big deal and pressing the attorney general about what is a routine decision for a justice department attorney which is when there's a potential conflict of interest you recuse himself and something that he's required to do.

And here you have the president saying, I need you in there. I need you to protect me. Angry about this, is says two things. One it indicates that he's intensely interested in the investigation but it also indicates, you know, an intent to interfere with the investigation. And remember, if he's going to prove obstruction of justice which I suspect right now is chief among Giuliani's concerns, when he talked about the House and the Senate, he's going to need to show that corrupt intent. In other words, an intent to obstruct the investigation and I think this is evidence of that.

BOLDUAN: And of course I mean it raises so many questions, so many more questions, Patrick. Because Sessions recusing himself, it was like the one, it seemed pretty kind of transparent, it was out there.

HEALY: Right.

BOLDUAN: I mean he recused himself immediately. Trump berating him and kind of holding his feet to the fire and, you know, poor Jeff Sessions. That was really well-known, but this, this is an interesting take on this that we haven't heard yet. I kind of wonder why we were just learning right now.

HEALY: I mean it's interesting it reminds me a little bit of the Comey loyalty oath that President Trump tried to give Jim Comey to sort of give and then ask him to sort of back off the Michael Flynn investigation in a way that President Trump had sort of like put his hand, you know, on these officials. Both people who he inherited and then Jeff Sessions, you know, someone who he appointed himself

But it's interesting, Kate, I mean this whole story line we learned things overtime. I mean little sort of nuggets that don't come out. And this is probably something I imagine the Trump team absolutely never wanted to get out. The notion of the president was trying to influence the top justice official. BOLDUAN: Yes. Real quick, Renato. What question does this raise now

for you? Real quick.

MARIOTTI: It really suggest to me that Mueller is going to present this to the Senate for impeachment.

BOLDUAN: Wow. This could be a very big moment. Renato, thank you so much. Patrick, thank you as well. And thank you so much for joining me. AC360 starts right now.