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NEW DAY

Journalists Killed Covering Alberto; North Korea Former Spy Chief to Visit U.S.; Warriors Beat Rockets to Advance; Trump's Truth and Conspiracies. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired May 29, 2018 - 06:30   ET

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


[06:30:00] NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Has a major threat to the south where there is an expectation it could bring severe flooding.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VALENCIA (voice over): The southeast bracing for potentially life- threatening flash flooding. Alberto walloping the Gulf Coast on Monday, bringing heavy rain and strong winds. The storms fury captured on video as this bridge in Cuba was destroyed by a rising river. Alberto claiming the lives of two journalists covering the storm in North Carolina. News anchor Mike McCormick for CNN affiliate WYFF and photojournalist Aaron Smeltzer were killed Monday when a tree fell on their SUV.

GEOFFREY TENNANT, TRYON FIRE CHIEF: It is a freak of nature. It's one of those things that you -- you know it's going to happen, or you can predict that it may happen, but you don't know when.

VALENCIA: Governor Roy Cooper warning that North Carolina residents need to take the storm seriously, as the governors of Florida, Alabama and Mississippi issue states of emergency.

VALENCIA (on camera): It's the first severe storm of the season here.

JIM SEDLOCK, PANAMA CITY RESIDENT: Yes, it's kind of early. It makes -- makes me leery of what's ahead.

VALENCIA (voice over): This as residents of Ellicott City, Maryland, begin another daunting cleanup effort after a different storm system caused historic flash flooding for the second time in two years. Police releasing this drone video showing the level of destruction across the city. Roads washed out. Cars scattered among mud and debris.

ALLAN H. KITTLEMAN, HOWARD COUNTY EXECUTIVE: They're devastated, as you can expect. They have gone through hell to get where they are today before this flood. And now they're facing it all again.

VALENCIA: Emergency responders continuing to search for Edison Herman, a Maryland National Guardsman who was helping a woman rescue a cat when he was pulled underneath the raging flood waters and never surfaced. JOSEPH LOPEZ, FRIEND OF MISSING FLOOD VICTIM: We're all still keeping

up hope. I mean a lot of us, because he's got a ton of friends. He's an amazing guy. It is tough to just sit here and wait knowing we can't do anything about it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VALENCIA: And here in Panama City Beach, the wind is still a factor, but at least for now the rain has stopped. Throughout the south, that won't be the case as the -- Alberto, the storm, makes its way inland. That rain is expected to continue to drop.

John. Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Nick, thank you very much. Please keep us posted of the situation down there.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration scrambling to get next month's summit with North Korea back on track, as we learn that North Korea's former top spy is heading to the U.S. tomorrow. Who is he? What will he do here? We talk with the former head of our CIA, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:36:21] CAMEROTA: We do have breaking news for you.

President Trump has just confirmed moments ago that North Korea's former top spy is on his way to the United States amid a flurry of diplomatic effort to get the Trump/Kim Jong-un summit on track.

Is this going to happen by June 12th?

Let's bring in the former director of the CIA and NSA, retired General Michael Hayden, a CNN national security analyst and the author of the new book, "The Assault on Intelligence in an Age of Lies.

General, great to see you this morning.

MICHAEL HAYDEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Good morning.

CAMEROTA: You're the perfect guest because you're North Korean counterpart, the General Michael Hayden of North Korea, is coming here tomorrow. Here's what we know about Kim Yong Chol. North Korea's former spy chief. We said that. A constant presence at all of Kim Jong-un's high level meetings. He was accused by the South of sinking their navy ship. He is the person allegedly behind the 2014 Sony hack that we all remember of the movie "The Interview," among other things. Tell us the significance of him coming to the United States.

HAYDEN: Yes, well, first of all, that's all probably true and probably a lot more we don't know because for periods in the past, under this leader in North Korea, they have been very aggressive against us and against the south.

But, Alisyn, the good news, and what you have to put that aside in this kind of business, you have to greet him, sit down and talk with him because he is both knowledgeable and authoritative. He comes here with the writ of the president of North Korea, and so this is the person, the individual that is worth talking to, to try to hammer out some common ground if it exists.

CAMEROTA: It sounds like in the past when Pompeo went to North Korea for his visit, he met with this gentleman.

HAYDEN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: And so tomorrow, what do you expect? Who do you expect Kim Yong Chol will be meeting with and what will they accomplish?

HAYDEN: Well, I think, frankly, that secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, would be -- would be a very, very good choice since he's already established some dialogue with the North Korean leadership. And here's -- here's the problem, I think, Alisyn. For the North Koreans, this is all about thinking about denuclearizing at the end of a very long process over here that changes the strategic equation in northeast Asia. For us, it's complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization now. And now the question becomes, can we find some sort of common ground, even some sort of common language, that the two presidents can use at the Singapore summit? And I think that's the heart of the discussion between the two leaders.

CAMEROTA: General, these sure seem like these are not just exercises for show. This sure seems like the U.S. delegation heading over there, the meeting coming up with president Abe, this North Korean coming here to the U.S. probably to meet with Secretary Pompeo, it seems like both sides really want this to happen, maybe even June 12th. What's your guess as to whether or not this is being fast-tracked for that date?

HAYDEN: I think it is being fast-tracked. I think it will happen. I think it's actually now more rather than less likely that it will happen on the 12th. What you've got, you've already suggested in your coverage this morning, you've got meetings in Singapore over logistics, meeting in the demilitarized zone over substance and now you've got this very high level meeting here in Washington, D.C. And so, frankly, for me, we've been very skeptical. This is all very heartening that there may be some there there when the two presidents meet.

[06:40:00] Now, look, we need to dampen our expectations to have realistic expectations about what's going to happen here. But even if we set up a clock, a timetable, an agenda, an arc that moves us forward towards a more stable peninsula, this will have been good news.

CAMEROTA: General, I want to ask you about Memorial Day and the president's tweet yesterday. Before you were CIA director, you served in the Air Force for many decades. So I want to know how his tweet struck you.

Let me read it for everybody. Happy Memorial Day, exclamation point. Those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today. Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for blacks and Hispanics ever and women in 18 years, rebuilding our military and so much more. Nice, exclamation point.

What was the response from you and from your colleagues and fellow veterans?

HAYDEN: Yes. So I saw that actually almost immediately after it was tweeted out in the original, and I generally don't tweet. I just enjoy the information coming in. But in this particular case, I just retweeted with a comment, OMG and sent it out. And, Alisyn, my phone got multiple hits for the rest of the day from like-minded folks who were equally offended by what the president had said.

I -- you know, the question I have to ask is, in what universe would the president think that was an OK thing to say on Memorial Day? So, I think it was very unfortunate because he said all of the right things and performed with some dignity at the cemetery later in the day, but that's what stuck in everyone's mind.

CAMEROTA: And what was it that was so offensive to you?

HAYDEN: Well, I mean, it -- you know, I take offense now when we have presidents who line up human beings behind them, you know, first responders, policemen, military folks. In this case, the president metaphorically lined up the fallen in American wars behind him to make what was essentially a political statement.

CAMEROTA: General Michael Hayden, thank you very much for your perspective, as always.

HAYDEN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, the final showdown is set. Cavaliers/Warriors, part IV. This time it's personal. Yes, we've seen this before. Details in the "Bleacher Report," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:46:28] BERMAN: So for the fourth straight year, it will be the Warriors and the Cavaliers in the NBA finals and both teams coming off road wins in game seven.

Lindsay Czarniak has more in the "Bleacher Report."

LINDSAY CZARNIAK, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It's like that movie you turn on, on a Saturday you can't stop watching because it's good every time. And at halftime it looked, though, like it was going to be the Rockets preparing to face LeBron James and the Cavaliers. Houston was riding a huge leading going into the break, but it looks like the enormity of what they were about to accomplish got into their heads in the locker room because they just couldn't hit any shots after that.

James Harden trying to reach the finals for the first time and he was trying to do it without Chris Paul, who was out with a hamstring injury. And the Rockets led by 11 at the half. And then they lost it. They missed a playoff record 27-straight three-pointers after that break. Golden State got their stuff together. They could not miss. Kevin Durant and Steph Curry hitting big shot after big shot. The Warriors took that 11-point deficit, turned it into a seven-point lead going into the fourth. So, with the 101-92 win, the Warriors earn a date with the finals, LeBron James and the Cavaliers for the fourth- straight season. Curry wasn't looking ahead, though, post-game.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPH CURRY GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: The way this series has gone, it's been such a hard fight to even have a chance to say we're in the finals. So all those hurdles and obstacles, we got over them. So it's an unbelievable feeling, man. Winning a championship is hard. And so this is a testament to that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CZARNIAK: It is. And game one is Thursday night in Oakland. So, they have home court on their side.

BERMAN: Who do you like?

CZARNIAK: The warriors.

BERMAN: In?

CZARNIAK: But I love this matchup because I just -- I hope LeBron gets a win. I think he'll get more than one win in six.

CAMEROTA: Is this how it's going to go, John, where you're going to hog all the sports because I love sports segments, as everyone who watches can tell you. I mean I know a lot of --

CZARNIAK: You do.

BERMAN: No, no, no, no, I -- yes, just because you read it phonetically, just because it's like basket ball, yes.

CAMEROTA: Right. Well, is that basketball we were just talking about?

BERMAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Was it?

CZARNIAK: Right. It's the big orange one, too.

CAMEROTA: The big orange one. Got it. And you got that in the net, not over the net. Sometimes you go under the net.

CZARNIAK: Exactly, not under, not -- right, exactly.

CAMEROTA: (INAUDIBLE).

CZARNIAK: You can swish. You can, you know.

BERMAN: It's all yours.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

BERMAN: It's all yours. It's all yours.

CAMEROTA: We're going to share it from now on.

Lindsay, thank you.

CZARNIAK: Who do you have?

CAMEROTA: Who do I have for this weekend?

The --

BERMAN: You don't remember the teams.

CAMEROTA: Is there one called the Rockets?

CZARNIAK: Yes.

CAMEROTA: OK. Them.

CZARNIAK: And it was very close.

CAMEROTA: OK.

CZARNIAK: They almost (INAUDIBLE).

CAMEROTA: Fantastic. Thank you.

All right, meanwhile, President Trump enjoys conspiracy theories and he spouts the craziest conspiracy theories to suit his political agenda. What impact is that having? Maggie Haberman has some new reporting on this, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:53:11] BERMAN: All right, we do have some breaking news.

A new statement by the president on the Russia investigation. He did this on Twitter. He's quoting a conservative journalist here. This is what he said. This investigation involved far more surveillance than we ever had any idea about. It wasn't just a wiretap against a campaign aide, it was secretly gathering information on the Trump campaign. People call that spying. This is unprecedented and scandalous, the president quotes.

Joining us to discuss this, CNN political analyst, White House correspondent for "The New York Times," Maggie Haberman.

Maggie, it just so happens you have a story in "The Times" today about the president and his love, addiction, one might say --

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Trafficking in.

BERMAN: Conspiracy theories.

HABERMAN: Right. We saw going back to the campaign -- and before that, beginning with birtherism, which was a blatant lie about where the president of the United States at the time, Barack Obama, was born, and whether he was a citizen and therefore whether he was legitimate. We've known for a very long time that Donald Trump likes to traffic in conspiracy theories. He's now doing it from the Oval Office, which is incredibly different.

He is elevating everything he says, everything that he says that isn't confirmed, everything he says that is a suspicion of his, everything that is sort of a churn in right wing media, that he then pushes back out there into the ecosystem. He is putting a stamp of legitimacy on. And the real concern for his critics, and some not critics, it that it is -- it is further eroding trust in institutions.

It is very different -- it was difficult when he was doing this as a candidate. We had never seen a Republican nominee, or any party -- major party nominee do what he was doing. To do it from the Oval Office is extremely different and it is having an effect. And sometimes it is -- he knows what he's doing is not true. Sometimes it's not clear that he knows what he's doing is not true. The net effect is the same, which is that it serves what -- some political end of his, in this case suggesting that he was the victim of politically motivated spying, as he puts it.

[06:55:14] To be clear, a lot of these facts are still not known. We know there was one case of an informant related to this campaign. We also know that federal officials were trying to look into whether Russia was trying to infiltrate this campaign.

CAMEROTA: Yes. But we also know that because of this conspiracy theory that he peddled about spying, that people had to spring into action. And so Congress, the leaders of the intel committees and such, had to go meet with the FBI, or demanded to meet with the FBI and the DOJ, about that. And when they came out of it --

HABERMAN: Right.

CAMEROTA: They all --

HABERMAN: Right.

CAMEROTA: Nobody said ah-ha, there's a smoking gun.

HABERMAN: Right.

CAMEROTA: They all said, I've seen nothing new. There was nothing there. Even Republicans.

HABERMAN: Correct.

CAMEROTA: So, in other words, hasn't the spy thing petered out? Why is he still hanging onto that when the people who have seen --

HABERMAN: It ain't working. CAMEROTA: It's working with -- to what end?

HABERMAN: He think it's working. It's working with his base of supporters. And that's what he cares about. And he tends to channel back things that he sees on Fox News and things that get shoved before him from conservative websites. He thinks that this is something that he needs to keep in the ecosystem front and center. He believes that it plants a seed of doubt in the Mueller investigation. And, remember, that is largely what this all goes back to is the special counsel probe into his campaign and into whether he obstructed justice.

BERMAN: And, you know, you (INAUDIBLE) that it plays well with (INAUDIBLE) Fox News viewers.

HABERMAN: Right.

BERMAN: And, Maggie, one other thing that's so fascinating in your piece is, it's also working among some establishment Republicans in sort of subtle ways. Look at Lindsey Graham.

HABERMAN: Absolutely. Absolutely. Lindsey Graham, during the campaign, talked about how we did not need -- I forget what the exact quote was but it was something along the lines of, it is not good to promote cooks. That was basically the jest.

Now on -- on, quote/unquote spygate, which is a term the president is pushing, Lindsey Graham is saying, look, you know, I mean there might be something there. We do need to learn more about this. And so what is -- the net effect isn't just that it's working, it's that it's working because he's the president. And so these are members of his own party who are now basically being pulled along. He moves the goal post in one direction and they run toward it.

CAMEROTA: And so, you know, the question is, generally people who believe in conspiracy theories are not critical thinkers.

HABERMAN: Right.

CAMEROTA: They haven't done a lot of digging. They're not sort of trying to connect the dots. Something just feels emotionally intense.

HABERMAN: Correct. Correct.

CAMEROTA: And you think, I'm going to run with that --

HABERMAN: Correct.

CAMEROTA: Because it sort of feeds something.

So, the president --

HABERMAN: Well, it also means that you're not responsible for anything.

CAMEROTA: Yes. HABERMAN: There's a hidden hand out there that is out to get you, then you are not responsible for anything that has happened or the choices you've made.

CAMEROTA: Great point. And you're not responsible for doing any digging.

HABERMAN: Correct.

CAMEROTA: And some of the theories that he peddles can be found with like one Google search. Like the most rudimentary Google searches.

But, anyway, the point is, does he -- is he just not a critical thinker? And -- or --

HABERMAN: I don't -- I don't know that he's a big (ph) Googler either, but I don't think he's --

CAMEROTA: Yes.

HABERMAN: But -- but he -- what he is, is somebody who comes to -- he -- he has -- look, there was a deposition that he gave in a case. I believe it was a lawsuit that he brought against Tim O'Brien, the journalist who had written a book about his net worth. And he said something in that deposition about how his -- I believe it was that case that his net worth could change depending on how he felt.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

HABERMAN: That was an astonishing statement, but that told people the most I think on point thing they would ever hear from his own mouth about how he arrives at conclusions. It is based on how he feels. That is really dangerous when it is coming from the president of the United States.

BERMAN: Can I ask you something you've been involved in for the last 24 hours or so, which is a battle with John Cusack.

HABERMAN: Twenty-four days, do you mean?

BERMAN: Well, John Cusack, you know, star of "The Sure Thing," "Better Off Dead," my personal favorite, "High Fidelity."

HABERMAN: Great, great, great -- "High Fidelity's" a great movie.

BERMAN: But you claim they've all been ruined for you in a way. This is a serious discussion right now.

HABERMAN: Actually, I didn't say that, but that's OK.

BERMAN: You know, it's a serious -- well, are you calling me a liar, because that's --

HABERMAN: I'm saying you're misquoting me. But, go ahead.

BERMAN: But that's -- no, but that's what this is about. It's about whether or not -- you know, and you said it when you're talking about birtherism, the president is promoting a lie. Birtherism is a lie.

HABERMAN: In that case -- well, right.

BERMAN: There's a -- the difference between lie and falsehoods, explain what's going on here?

HABERMAN: So a couple of things. At my paper, our executive editor wants to use the word "lie" very sparingly. And I think that there are reasons behind that.

I think the main reason is -- there are two reasons. One is that a lie contains intent and you are going at someone's intent when you say lie, number one. Number two, if you use a word 100 times a day, feels to me like it loses its meaning. And I would offer a third one, which is, the most important thing that we can do is record for history, not for people's Twitter pleasure, what he is saying and whether it is truthful or whether it contains truth, whether it is the facts or whether it is not the facts. So me the label is much more of a semantics game. And I understand that there is a lot of anger out there. And I understand that there is a feeling that this president is not being held accountable.

CAMEROTA: Because John Cusack and the like want you to say some -- call something a lie.

HABERMAN: Right. And that's fine. And I understand that. And that is their -- that is their right and criticism. But I think that, to me the bigger issue is setting the historical record straight and the label is less significant for that.

[07:00:06] In the case of birtherism, he had been carrying on about this for five years. And so it was kind of clear at that point.