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Missouri Governor Resigns; Gowdy Upends Trump Theory; Mueller Probing Sessions Recusal; Pompeo Meets with Former Spy. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired May 30, 2018 - 06:30   ET


[06:32:03] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Missouri's Republican governor, Eric Greitens, resigns amid a series of scandals. But during a press conference he did not admit to any legal wrongdoing.

CNN's Ryan Young is live in Jefferson City, Missouri, with the very latest.

This was a long time coming many people felt.


Good morning, Alisyn.

Look, this was a strong, defiant governor. This is a former Navy SEAL, a Rhodes Scholar. In fact, at one point he called this investigation a witch hunt. But all that was gone yesterday when he was doing his resignation, talking about moving forward.

Now, look, this all started in January after his state of the state speech. He actually was confronted by the story where this woman -- basically her ex-husband had came forward and said they were -- had an affair. And then when you listen to the tape, she talks about the fact that she was tied up during -- when he talked about doing a perfect pull-up. And during this she said a picture was taken. And that picture was going to be used against her if she ever came forward about this affair.

Listen to the governor yesterday talking about the maximum damage done to his life by this investigation.


ERIC GREITENS (R), FORMER GOVERNOR OF MISSOURI: This ordeal has been designed to cause an incredible amount of strain on my family. It's clear that for the forces that oppose us, there is no end in sight. I cannot allow those forces to continue to cause pain and difficulty to the people that I love.


YOUNG: Yes, the governor actually faced one invasion of privacy charge. That was dropped. He also faced some campaign finance because of the fact that -- of a donor list and whether or not it was used improperly.

Look, some of this stuff will still move forward because the special prosecutor says they will still look into this case. The lieutenant governor will take over. There are a lot of people questioning what's been happened over the last few months in this state.

BERMAN: All right, Ryan Young for us.

Ryan, thank you very, very much.

A top House Republican, perhaps the one with the best access to all the evidence, is shooting down President Trump's conspiracy theory about the FBI planting a spy in his campaign. We'll tell you what Trey Gowdy is saying about the bureau's handling of the Russia investigation, next.


[06:38:10] A remarkable comment from Republican House Oversight Chair Trey Gowdy, who now says that the FBI acted appropriately in its handling of the Russia investigation and possible connections to the Trump campaign. Gowdy was among those at a highly classified briefing by the Justice Department last week.


REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got, and that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump.


BERMAN: He just said that out loud.

Joining us now is Ken Cuccinelli, CNN legal and political commentator, and Jeffrey Toobin, CNN chief legal analyst.

Jeffrey, you know, Congressman Gowdy, who has seen as much as anyone can see on this, just said nothing to see here when it comes to the president's charge essentially of FBI investigative spying on the Trump campaign.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, Gowdy, like Jeff Flake, is not running for re-election, so he actually is telling the truth about what's going on here. And, you know, it is true that he is -- that this is a completely bogus conspiracy theory. But what's even more true is that every accusation against the FBI, every accusation against Mueller has completely fallen apart under objective scrutiny. And Gowdy reflects that here. And he's just, you know, afflicted with the disease of being honest.

BERMAN: You know, Ken, Trey Gowdy was the guy who was sent in to be part of these classified briefings. He's the guy that House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes, who, to an extent, is stirring all of this up, he's the guy that Nunes wanted to see or hear the most secret stuff that the FBI was willing to let be seen. And Gowdy is now saying, uh-uh, I just don't see it. The FBI handled it perfectly.

Do you agree?

[06:40:00] KEN CUCCINELLI, CNN LEGAL AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I agree that Gowdy is more credible than Nunes. I do not agree, having not seen this information, however, I do not agree that we can just brush aside the notion of an informant or a spy. And you can call them whatever you want, in a presidential campaign when the Obama administration was doing the things they were doing.

I would also note Gowdy's other half of that comment that has gotten no play in the mainstream media, and that was his emphatic statement, this is nothing to do with Donald Trump. Meaning, from his perspective, whatever it is he saw not only convinced him that the FBI was pursuing something legitimate, but also that it had no connection to Donald Trump.

So there's two parts to this. I am comfortable with one of them, obviously. I am less comfortable with the other as one of those 300 plus million Americans who don't get to see this information. I just don't think -- and the -- and as a lawyer, I mean, I put -- I flip the case around and say, how would it go the other way? What would I do? If Donald Trump's administration -- because this was Barack Obama's administration -- was putting an informant in Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, whoever the Democrat candidate ends up being, in their campaign, no one, including this network, would ever believe in a million years it was done for an objectively appropriate purpose.

BERMAN: Well --

CUCCINELLI: It wouldn't happen. And I -- and I think we need a lot more convincing, as the American public, to see that this incredible step, historically unique step, was appropriate because it sure doesn't look like it from the outside.

BERMAN: You made it sound like it was David Axelrod or a political person inside the Obama campaign sending in --

CUCCINELLI: No, no, no, I'm referring (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: No, hang -- I understand. Listen, listen, this was the FBI that put this confidential source -- it wasn't an informant -- inside the campaign. It was a confidential sources who talked to people who were connected to the campaign. And don't take my word for it. I don't know anything about this. Trey Gowdy is the guy who's been briefed and Trey Gowdy went in there.

CUCCINELLI: Right. Yes, but -- but in context --

BERMAN: And he's convinced. And your own point -- hang on one second, Ken, because your own point, the FBI is saying, you know, we're not looking at the Trump campaign here, we're looking at the Russian's attempt to infiltrate the Trump campaign. You and Trey Gowdy seem to be on the same page, but you just don't want to let the idea of a political plot go. CUCCINELLI: Well, look, first of all, as I said, I haven't seen the

information Trey Gowdy has seen. And perhaps the biggest point that I think I would make that is different from Trey Gowdy is that they are going to have to come up with a way, in the context of agents in charge of doing investigations related to Trump and Hillary who were out to get Donald Trump, who were out to get him. That's what their texts say.

BERMAN: Jeffrey.

CUCCINELLI: That's the context. It isn't just some objective FBI investigation.

And remember one last point. They keep saying we were trying to protect the campaign. That isn't how you do that. You have a -- you have a beginner's campaign full of beginners, and you don't even talk to them about uprooting whatever you view as the problem. You just go in and essentially plant your own person in that campaign?

BERMAN: Jeffrey.

CUCCINELLI: That is not trying to protect the campaign. That's out to get the campaign.

TOOBIN: I mean, you know, this is a constant moving of the goalposts to make the FBI look sinister. Every time someone clears the FBI and says this investigation was appropriate, it's like, well, no, that's not really the question. It's a different question. I mean this whole thing is fake. This is all designed by Donald Trump and Devin Nunes to discredit whatever Mueller comes up with. That's the only purpose of this whole inquiry. Every time --

CUCCINELLI: Actually --

TOOBIN: Let me finish, Ken.

CUCCINELLI: Yes, I'll wait. I'll wait.

TOOBIN: Every time the investigation goes forward and it's clear something else comes up. And it's just -- there is no other purpose to this except to generate outrage about Mueller among the Republican base and it's worked pretty well, according --

BERMAN: If I can ask you both to wait for a second.


BERMAN: For one moment, Jeffrey. And, Ken, I wanted to bring up the other big story that developed overnight, which is "The New York Times" reporting this meeting between President Trump and the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, after the attorney general recused himself from the Russia investigations. "The Times" is reporting, Ken, that President Trump tried to get him to un-recuse himself, which is very rare, if not unprecedented in these types of investigations.

CUCCINELLI: Yes. BERMAN: You acknowledge that.

And that the special counsel is looking at this meeting to see if it is connected to possible obstruction. Do you think that a meeting like that raises questions?

CUCCINELLI: I expect a special counsel, when they're identifying what boxes they have to check and then checking them off, would look at this sort of a question in the same way they're looking at the firing of James Comey. I mean the firing of James Comey is much more direct. This is in the same category.

[06:45:05] I think this is probably best explained as the continuing fairly undisciplined expression of Trump's frustration over Sessions' initial complete recusal, as opposed to just from the criminal piece, or any part of it. And I think it's unwise on his part. I fully expect Mueller to look at it. I don't expect it to develop anything beyond whatever would have been developed by looking at the James Comey firing.

BERMAN: Jeffrey, the biggest legal jeopardy for the president here would be, what, if in that meeting Sessions were to say, the president came to me and said, why did you recuse yourself? I need someone here loyal to me, to protect me in this investigation? Those words would be --

TOOBIN: I need my Roy Cohn, which he has apparently said to others, who was the sinister lawyer who was a very important figure in Donald Trump's early career.

Look, the issue of whether the president used his power to deflect, to interfere, to obstruct an investigation of him and his campaign is at the heart of the Comey inquiry -- of the Mueller inquiry. Whether that -- you know, whether this meeting is further evidence of that is obviously something that Mueller -- that Mueller should look into and apparently is.

BERMAN: Yes. Rudy Giuliani, by the way, says un-recused doesn't says bury the investigation, it says take responsibility for it and handle it correctly. Robert Mueller ultimately may be the barometer of whether or not that's (INAUDIBLE).

TOOBIN: That's -- can we just say, that's just false. Recusal means not participate. I mean what Giuliani is saying is completely false.

BERMAN: Jeffrey Toobin, Ken Cuccinelli, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.


CAMEROTA: All right, North Korea's former spy chief coming to New York to meet with Secretary of State Pompeo. So, a top North Korean spy, former, in the U.S. What could go wrong? We discuss, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [06:50:36] CAMEROTA: North Korea's former spy chief, Kim Yong Chol, is expected to arrive in New York today to meet with Secretary of State and former CIA Director Mike Pompeo. They hope to iron out details for next month's summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un.

So joining us now is CNN military and diplomatic analyst, retired Rear Admiral John Kirby.

John, not to get too cloak and dagger on you, but is there something a little strange about the former spy chief of North Korea coming to New York? And just what does that mean behind the scenes for people like you putting -- when you put it together?

REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Yes, look, I mean foreign diplomats are kind of like your cousins, you don't get to choose them. You know, the other side gets to do that. And this is who they've chosen.

He does have a very dangerous past. This is a man who we believe was responsible for sinking the South Korean navy ship back in 2010, as well as for the hacking regarding that movie "The Interview." So, I mean, this is a dangerous guy.

But he also is a guy who has not only Kim Jong-un's ear, but Kim Jong- un's confidence. Which means that when Pompeo sits down to talk to him today, he's going to be talking to a guy who actually does speak for Kim Jong-un and can actually make decisions in regards to the summit.

So while I'm sure they're going to be very careful around him, this is the one -- this is the man that you want to be talking to if you're trying to set up this big meeting.

BERMAN: Yes, I don't know about you, my cousins never hacked Sony.

CAMEROTA: Are you sure?

BERMAN: You know, and never sunk subs.

KIRBY: Fair point.

BERMAN: But just to put a point on it -- just to put a point on it, is this something in diplomacy, admiral, you just have to suck it up and deal with it?


BERMAN: This is the North Koreans saying, you've got to talk to this person no matter what history they have.

KIRBY: That's right.

BERMAN: And there are no extra security considerations or you're not more careful about it or --

KIRBY: No, I -- look, I'm sure there will be plenty of security considerations surrounding this guy. And I have no doubt that our own intelligence agencies will be watching him very, very closely. There's no question about that.

But, look, in diplomacy, you don't -- you don't get to dictate to the other side who they put at the table or who they sent to talk to you any more than -- any more than Kim Jong-un dictated who went sent over. Remember, we sent our top spy guy when Mike Pompeo was the CIA director over to Pyongyang.

Now, I'm not putting them on the equivalent level there -- in terms of character, but the other side doesn't get to dictate.

CAMEROTA: I mean maybe I've seen too many James Bond movies, but will they be spying on each other? I mean won't our intel -- will -- will our intel agencies be keeping extra close track of him and might he do something suspicious here, or is this all aboveboard and I shouldn't be looking for some subtext?

KIRBY: Any time you get two delegations from opposing countries like this, countries that do not share the same sort of security interests in a given region, you -- you know, obviously, we're going to be mindful of that and we're going to be paying attention to them. And certainly there will probably be some sort of surveillance done. And probably by their side too. I mean that's kind of the way it works.

But I -- so I wouldn't say it's all aboveboard. But I also don't think, Alisyn, that Kim Yong Chol doesn't realize that and isn't going to be on his best behavior coming forward. I mean he's here for one reason, to get this summit moving, because his boss, just like Pompeo's boss, wants it to happen. And so I think that's going to be the tenor and the tone of the discussion. And I don't think it will go beyond that.

BERMAN: The question really is, is it moving right now? There's this remarkable, you know, three-ring circus going on. There are these meetings coming up in New York. We have officials in Singapore, so does North Korea, trying to set up the logistics of the meeting.

KIRBY: Right.

BERMAN: The United States has got a former ambassador to South Korea in the DMZ right now negotiating.

And then I found fascinating again what Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said last night, which I thought moved the ball even more on the issue of denuclearization. Let me just read this to you.

Denuclearization has to be on the able and the focus of the meeting, and the president has to feel like we're making progress on that front. And the only one that will make that determine is the president, what Sarah said.

That is such a far cry from absolute denuclearization. That seems to me to be opening the door as wide as humanly possible for the North Koreans to give them a reason to sit down now (ph).

KIRBY: Yes, she said making progress on that front, which is definitely walking back this whole notion of immediate denuclearization.

I don't think anybody in the administration who has been working this problem, and I give them credit for working this problem very hard over the last year, realizes -- or, I'm sorry, thinks that they're going to get complete and verifiable denuclearization as a result of this summit. Rather, this summit will be the beginning of a process that will eventually get us there. And I was glad to see Sarah put it that way because she's putting the explanations where they need to be, which are, frankly -- frankly, kind of low.

[06:55:05] You've got Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, going to Pyongyang here tomorrow. And he's --

CAMEROTA: What's that about? Why is he getting involved?

KIRBY: Well, because Russia has a stake here.

Look, China and Russia both -- they don't like a nuclear North Korea. But the one thing they don't want, they want less than that, is a unified Korean peninsula that is aligned with the west, and particularly the United States. They don't want American troops camped out on the other side of the Yalu River.

And so we -- Lavrov says he was invited. I think he probably engineered that invitation to go and to bend their ear to make sure that when they sit down with Trump, they don't give away farm, and that Russia's interests long term are preserved. And Lavrov said when he did an interview about this trump just today, he said, you know, hey, let's get back to the six-party talks. He said, this has got to be the beginning of a process that ends with the six-party talk process, which has been in place since the 90s.

Why does he care about that? Because Russia is a founding member of the six-party talk process and they don't want to be left out.

CAMEROTA: OK, Rear Admiral John Kirby, thank you very much for all of the expertise. Great to talk to you.

KIRBY: You bet. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK, Roseanne Barr, which is the top trending story today, blaming Ambien for her racist rant and claiming that she was fired because of her support of President Trump. So, what does all of this mean? What does it mean for the country? Why is this conversation so hot and heated today? We get into all of that.