Return to Transcripts main page


Puerto Rico Deaths Increased By 1,400 In The Months After Maria; FEMA; P.R. Has Longest Power Outage In Modern U.S. History; Top GOP Congressman Pushes Back on W.H. "Spy" Claims; "Stingray" Surveillance Detected Near White House. Aired 12n-1p ET

Aired June 2, 2018 - 12:00   ET




PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and thanks for joining me on this Saturday. I'm Pamela Brown in for Fredricka Whitfield.

After weeks of back and forth and confusion and very few details, the North Korean/U.S. summit is officially on again according to President Trump who spoke to reporters yesterday. It is now crunch time with just ten days until the two leaders meet face-to-face in Singapore.

The harsh rhetoric starting to soften once again. North Korea's ex- spy chief personally developing a letter from King Jong-un to President Trump in the oval office. The Secret Service carefully examining that letter for anything potentially dangerous before it's presented.

But these formal pleasantries don't erase the volatile past. Both countries with a lot on the line for the highly anticipated meeting.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It will be a beginning. I don't say, and I've never said it happens in one meeting. You're talking about years of hostility, years of problems. Years of really hatred between so many different nations.

But I think you're going to have a very positive result in the end. Not from one meeting. I didn't cancel a meeting. I canceled it in response to a very tough statement, and I think we're over that, totally over that, and now we're going to deal and we're going to really start a process.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe Kim is committed to denuclearization?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yes, I do think so. He'd like to see it happen. He wants to be careful. He wants to be, you know -- he's not going to run and do things, but I told him to be honest with you, look, we have sanctions. They're very powerful sanctions. We would not take sanctions off unless they did that, but the sanctions are very powerful. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: CNN's Ryan Nobles joins us live from the White House. Ryan, President Trump is at Camp David this weekend with only ten days to go until the summit is supposed to take place. And there are still some major questions looming over the summit. But the president has basically said it's officially back on, right? I mean, he didn't leave any wiggle room there.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He certainly did not. I think it was a surprise when he emerged from that meeting in a very conventional fashion with Kim Yong-Chol who is the former intelligence officer from North Korea, a close deputy of Kim Jong-un and made this announcement that the summit that was on and off was back on again.

And what's really unclear right now is what the goal is of the summit. Exactly what does the United States hope to accomplish? What does North Korea hope to accomplish? And as you mentioned, the president is spending this weekend at Camp David.

He's been joined there by some of his closest advisers in the form of his offspring, his son, Donald Jr. is there, his daughter, Tiffany Trump, his other daughter, Ivanka Trump and her son-in-law, Jared Kushner, are all part of this weekend getaway to Camp David.

And they're said to be discussing this North Korean summit and this morning, Don Jr. appeared on Sirius XM Radio and he discussed his father's strategy as it relates to North Korea. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP JR., PRESIDENT'S SON (via telephone): These other bureaucrats, they're so afraid of anything, they would never take advantage of the leverage we so obviously had. It's why he's been able to be successful at this. I said it right off the bat.

Don't worry, they'll be back in about a week. When this happened. Pretty much nailed it because they have so much more to gain. Worse- case scenario is that we're exactly where we've been for 60 years. That's our downside.


NOBLES: So, Don Jr. obviously not part of the administration in an official capacity, but he is obviously one of his father's closest advisers, someone who talks to on a regular basis and is at Camp David right now.

He's saying that this is all a leverage tactic by President Trump. He is keeping the pressure on North Korea and that's why the summit is going to take place. Pam, we'll have to see if it ends up resulting in any sort of tangible outcomes here for this administration.

BROWN: Yes, we shall see. Ryan Nobles, thank you so much.

These negotiations happened back and forth for weeks now. The summit finally moving forward it appears. CNN's global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott joins me now.

It's been a roller coaster ride. It was a couple months ago where the president said hey, we got some big news on North Korea coming out. You find out they planned the summit, then canceled, then back on. How did we get to this point and how much of a role did the president canceling the meeting play in terms of a negotiating tool?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, I think we forget that these things are usually done from the bottom up, right? Negotiators meet for weeks and months and then the leaders get together after the communique is agreed to and they sign on the dotted line.

[12:05:09] Now you see this, the president trying to do it from the top down. Just working with Kim Jong-un to get together in a deal. I think over these weeks the president realized that the kind of nuclear deal he was looking for was not coming from the North Koreans. They weren't ready.

The negotiators, Ambassador Kim, in the DMZ and these negotiators in Singapore, they realize, and Secretary Pompeo when he met with Kim Yong Chol, this envoy, earlier this week, realized that the North Koreans are not ready, so what happened, they lowered their expectations.

There's no shame in that, but I think there's also a reality check. I think now they're arriving in a more realistic place. What is this meeting? This meeting is a chance for the two leaders to get to know each other and maybe set out a road map for what's to come, what kind of negotiations they want to have and what the ultimate goal.

If they can have some small deliverables, then it would be a success. I think what they were thinking about initially that the North Koreans were going to agree at this meeting to give up their nuclear weapons, and there will be a timeline coming out was never going to happen. And I think the president after these last few weeks realized that.

BROWN: Right. We know that the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov met with Kim Jong-un in North Korea. The president said to reporters yesterday that he wasn't very happy about it, but it could lead to something positive. Why, what role does Russia play in all of this? What is the significance of this? You wonder what Russia's saying to North Korea amid the negotiations on the summit.

LABOTT: That's right. Well, what are the Russians doing? On the one hand, they want to be involved in the part of the process. They don't want to be left out. Just like the Chinese. But they also -- North Korea needs an ally here.

You even saw the Russian foreign minister talking about, well, this shouldn't be done all at once. This should be action for action. Exactly like the North Koreans want. So, they're going to be almost a surrogate in all this.

And also, they're giving Kim Jong-un the kind of legitimacy on the world stage that the Chinese are giving him, that the South Koreans are giving him. He's no longer this outcast. He's coming to this summit with President Trump.

Not equals certainly but from one world leader to another, not some pariah that is agreeing to meet with President Trump. So, I think their involvement is interesting and could be very significant.

BROWN: And it's interesting because North Korea changed its tone after the meeting with President Xi and the president called China. So, you wonder if there's some concern on the part of President Trump or Russia, do something similar that he believes he saw with China meeting with North Korea.

LABOTT: Certainly, his aides do. I don't know if he necessarily realizes that, certainly his aides are worried about that.

BROWN: All right. Elise Labott, as always, thank you so much. Great reporting and analysis. I want to bring in someone who has studied North Korea very closely, Han Park, the editor of "North Korea Demystified." He taught international relations at the University of Georgia and he has traveled there extensively on peace missions.

Professor, thank you for coming on. I just want to talk about the optics, the significance of the president meeting with Kim Jong-un's number two in North Korea, the second most powerful man in North Korea, in the oval office, for more than 90 minutes, giving him sort of the warm smiling handshake as he departed.

What is the significance of that? Are you concerned that North Korea will use that as propaganda?

HAN PARK, AUTHOR, "NORTH KOREA DEMYSTIFIED": I think yes, North Korea will use that. At the same time, this meeting is so important, in North Korea, as well as the United States, particularly our president. The reason is that personally and politically, president Trump would like to have something major accomplishment.

In this case, trying to do something about denuclearization of North Korea. That the North would be able to do. So that's a very important political reason. Maybe his domestic political problems may be alleviated somewhat by having this international accomplishment.

Kim Jong-un would like the world stage. Kim Jong-un, too, like American president, has domestic audience. And he's very sensitive to their perceptions. Namely the military and the political party.

[12:10:03] So, both leaders have had a great desire to have the summit meeting, the personal desire made this meeting happen. However, substantively, the difference in terms of denuclearization, what kind of denuclearization are we talking about, is a complete irreversible, viable, it's going to be very difficult to accomplish.

The United States must accept after some point that this is acceptable thing. And the united states peace agreement will bring legitimacy, stability, very difficult topic to deliver from the west.

So, there will be many more meetings before any kind of important consensus. So, this meeting, upcoming meeting, summit meeting, is very important. A meeting that will open up more meetings in the future at various levels of the government.

BROWN: That is what President Trump seemed to allude to yesterday, this s is going to be the beginning of many meetings hopefully. Professor, thank you so much for coming on.

Well, from North Korea to Russia, President Trump is reportedly preparing for another potential summit. This one with Vladimir Putin. What would be the political stakes? Details on that just ahead.



BROWN: Well, with the North Korea summit seemingly back on, now there is a report that the White House is also preparing for a potential summit between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. "The Wall Street Journal" reporting that plans for the super power meeting is in the very early stages.

Joining me now to discuss this, Ken Blackwell, former Ohio secretary of state and a former domestic policy adviser for President Trump's transition team. Also, with me, CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist, Maria Cardona. Thank you both for joining us on this Saturday.

So, Ken, I want to start with you here. This possible meeting comes at a time when there is high tension between the U.S. and the kremlin. The U.S. and dozens of other countries expelled Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of that former Russian spy and his daughter in the U.S.

Russia denies involvement in that attack and has lashed out at the U.S. for its retaliation. The U.S. has also condemned the kremlin support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Is it likely a summit can settle these major differences?

KEN BLACKWELL (R), FORMER OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm not sure that the summit will solve these major differences. Look, since the end of World War II, we've had hot and cold relationships with, then, the Soviet Union, and, now, Russia. Whether we like it or not, Russia will be a fly in the oatmeal in Syria, North Korea, Iran and various other countries across the world.

So, it is better to keep them involved in the discussion as we have for all of the decades then to push them away from the table and let them engage in their mischief without our supervision or oversight.

BROWN: All right. So, for another perspective, Maria, the U.S. intel communities publicly stated that Russia meddled in the election. How high will the political stakes be for the president if he does have the summit with Putin? He's met with Putin before, but a summit is sort of different.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's right. I think you're absolutely right. A summit I think would bring much greater expectations of two things. First of all, what is the outcome going to be, but also, what is going to be president Trump's stance going into the summit.

The criticisms have been that in his past meetings with Putin, they've been very friendly, meaning that Trump has never brought up the fact that Russia has meddled in the elections, has never reprimanded --

BROWN: Well, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that he expressed concern. The Russians had a different account.

CARDONA: Right, exactly.

BROWN: The president claims -- go ahead.

CARDONA: But we also know that this president has --

BROWN: I should say former secretary of state.

CARDONA: That's right. But we also should remember that this president and this administration have a very tenuous relationship with the truth and with facts. So, that is also something I think going into this meeting that people are going to be focusing on.

But the last meetings that he has had with President Putin, with Putin, is that the president really hasn't been very hard on him for the meddling. In fact, we don't really think that President Trump believes that Putin meddled in the elections.

In fact, he said that Putin said that he didn't meddle, and that President Trump believes him. So, I think there's going to be a lot of pressure on this president and on this administration in terms of what is the outcome, but is he going to hold Russia accountable?

We also see that this really hasn't been a priority in terms of national security priorities for this president. He has never directed his national security team to do something about what the Russians have done in terms of our elections.

We're going into the midterms. There's a lot of concern that they are still doing it and that we are not prepared to push back or to, frankly, protect ourselves from what they did in 2016.

BROWN: You heard the NSA chief, Mike Rogers, has said as much and other intel chiefs have said as much as well.

CARDONA: Exactly.

[12:20:01] BROWN: But what do you make -- this is of course against the backdrop of the administration setting up the summit with North Korea. Another U.S. adversary now we get word setting up a summit with Putin. What do you make of that? What do you think -- what would a successful summit look like for President Trump?

BLACKWELL: First, let me just say that homeland security has been working with secretaries of state across the country in terms of the vulnerabilities of our elections systems to bad actors, both domestic and foreign. So, this notion that the administration is not paying attention to the vulnerabilities in our system is just pure poppy- cock.

BROWN: But there is a difference between that and holding Russia accountable for doing things in Russia versus homeland security. There is a difference there. Go ahead.

BLACKWELL: Across administrations, I've, in fact, been a U.S. diplomat. I was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. We sat across from some of our nemesis, whether it be Russia, Cuba. Believe me, we know how to engage. We have a team, Pompeo, Bolton, Mattis.

Don't tell me these folks are not aware of our vulnerabilities and the threats of the environment. Some folks on the Democratic side might think that a narrative that says we're unprepared is what they want to promote, but the reality is this. These are experienced hands.

This president is not only rebuilding our military, but he, in fact, is expanding our economy so we, in fact, are the 500-pound gorilla in the room economically and Russia is purely a second world nation economically. So, look --

CARDONA: That has nothing to do with our elections.

BLACKWELL: It does. Their Homeland Security is -- Homeland Security, this administration, is working against, you know, that potential threat, whether it's the Chinese, whether it's the Russians, you name it, Homeland Security is on top of the situation. Now secretaries of state and our decentralized system can choose to engage or not to engage as we build a strategy to protect the integrity of our system.

CARDONA: But here's the problem, Ken. I believe you. I think people at Homeland Security are concerned about this. I think that people in our intelligence community are concerned about this and they're doing what they can in terms of our preview.

There's a big difference between that and between the president of the United States having a priority and a directive coming from the oval office to say let's do everything that we can to keep Russia, to keep President Putin from doing what they did in 2016 in the upcoming 2018 and 2020 elections. That has not happened.

BROWN: You're saying defense versus offense.

BLACKWELL: There's a pretty adult administration and point of view. Look, the Russians are not the only threat. When we talk about strengthening our systems and protecting against vulnerabilities, we're talking about all threats, including Russia. I'm not going to sit there and tell the leader of the third world how he communicates that through his administration.

I can only say behaviorally I see steps to address that. You cannot say the narrative he's turning a blind eye to the Russian threat, he is not --

CARDONA: It's not a narrative.

BLACKWELL: How do we strengthen our system? That's --

CARDONA: And I'm glad you talked about --

BLACKWELL: I've heard him say that, I've heard his chief of staff say that, I've heard the defense secretary say that, and I know that Pompeo believes that and John Bolton --

CARDONA: We have never heard --

BLACKWELL: So, don't tell me that this administration is not concerned about that.

CARDONA: I can tell you that the president, President Trump is not concerned about it because we have never heard him say I am going to hold Russia and Putin accountable for what they did in 2016. That is the bottom line and we haven't heard that.

BLACKWELL: He talks to his team. Believe me, that's where -- that is where -- behaviorally --

CARDONA: We might have people in the administration that are concerned about this, behaviorally yes, but behaviorally from the president of the United States, he has not cared about this, it has not been a priority --

BROWN: Thank you both, Ken Blackwell, Maria Cardona, thank you. Thank you to you both for that spirited discussion.

And up next on this Saturday, a new report says the death toll in Puerto Rico in the months after Hurricane Maria have been drastically unreported by at least 1,400. Details straight ahead.



BROWN: A moving image coming from San Juan, Puerto Rico today. You're looking at a live picture of more than 1,600 pairs of shoes. Each representing someone who died as a result of Hurricane Maria.

This as we're learning new information from the Puerto Rico Department of Health data now being released by the agency showing that there were at least 1,400 additional deaths in the months after Hurricane Maria.

Until now, the number had stood at 64 deaths. This updated figure comes days after Harvard published its own report estimating at least 4,600 people died as a result of the storm.

Joining me now from Puerto Rico, CNN correspondent, Leyla Santiago. And Leyla, do you have had a chance to talk to some of these families? What are they telling you?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think what we're seeing right now at the capitol building of San Juan really tells the story, Pam. Well take a look behind me. These are actually shoes, more than 1,600 shoes that have been placed at the capitol building representing the lives, or rather unfortunately the deaths. Hurricane Maria related deaths placed here by loved ones.

And as I just checked, the number is above 1,600. Remember, the death toll here from the government remains at 64. I'm going to bring in Gloribel, she is the organizer of all this. And what is all this mean to you? Because I know you've talked to a lot of the families who have left shoes here.

GLORIBEL DELGADO,ORGANIZED HURRICANE MARIA MEMORIAL: This is a time that we can say good-bye to our loved ones. To people that we know or people that we don't know, but this is like the cemetery. We didn't have the time to do it. So now is the time to say good-bye to the relative. Is the time to sorrow, is the time to hug each other, so it's the time to really say a good-bye in honor and in dignity. So it's a place, a sacred place right now.

People come here in silence. They come here with their shoes, a little letter, flowers. Maybe they come with pictures of their loved ones. And what they say is like they need to be hugged. They need to be with each other. And they need to be like be present here. Like they are not forgotten.

SANTIAGO: Gloribel, thank you so much.

DELGADO: Thank you, Leyla.

SANTIAGO: I got to second what she says. I've seen a lot of hugs, I've seen tears, and a lot of people just saying that the deaths that occurred here during Maria and after are more than where the death toll stands right now. And not only does this bring sort of a lot of sadness and sorrow to those families, this time right now is also bringing a lot of anxiety, because yesterday was the very first day of the atlantic hurricane season right here in Puerto Rico. And as I called around to the mayors of this island, most, actually all, said that this is an island that is very vulnerable and seven of the eight said that they are not prepared to take on another hurricane. Because this is an island that they say is still in recovery.


SANTIAGO (voice-over): This looks like progress. It's actually a sign of desperation in Utuado, one of the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign Language)

SANTIAGO (on camera): He says they're repairing the power themselves because they're almost at nine months without power and they feel abandoned.

(voice over): Tur Reyas (ph) has no experience doing this, climbing poles, working with live wires, restoring power. Something he says he learned in one day from a retired power worker. Using any materials they can find, their risky mission has turned the lights back on for more than a dozen. The home of Samuel Vazquez is next. SAMUEL VAZQUEZ, HAD POWER RESTORED: I feel bad because there's just -- I mean you can't get no power. You can't get no light.

SANTIAGO: In Utuado, tarps are still being used, roads washed out, emergency plans are still being worked out. Mayor Ernesto Irizarry says his municipality cannot take another storm.

(on camera): So how frustrating is that as the leader of 30,000 people in Utuado?

ERNESTO IRIZARRY, UTUADO MAYOR: It's difficult and hard because you see in the eye of the people the frustration.

SANTIAGO (voice over): He says he doesn't have the basic resources or the money to respond to a natural disaster. Eight months after Maria, parts of the island are still dealing with what FEMA calls the longest power outage in modern and U.S. history. More than 10,000 customers are still in the dark.

(on camera): Can this power grid, can it sustain itself if another hurricane were to come?

WALT HIGGINS, PREPA CEO: The most honest thing to say about our grid is that it's weak or fragile.

SANTIAGO (voice over): Walt Higgins is the new CEO for Puerto Rico's Power Authority, tasked with fixing a power grid never built to handle Cat 4 or 5 hurricanes. Just weeks ago, an island-wide blackout was caused by a fallen tree. Higgins promises most of those still without power, though not all, will have it restored in a matter of weeks. What he cannot say is what will happen if another storm plunges the island into darkness.

HIGGINS: My straight answer to that is, we were readier this year than we were last year.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): And people on the island will be counting on it for their very lives.

SANTIAGO (on camera): Will this be enough?


SANTIAGO (voice over): For FEMA's part, it's showing off this warehouse full of disaster relief supplies planned for the next disaster, compared to Maria preparations, to have seven times more water and meals, six times more generators, eight times more tarps, all on the island before the next hurricane. The agency admits it's learned some lessons.

[12:35:12] SANTIAGO (on camera): But will FEMA be ready for a faster response if a hurricane hits Puerto Rico?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. There's no doubt. No doubt.

SANTIAGO (voice over): But for those in Utuado, taking matters into their own hands, any sign of recovery is a victory.

(on camera): You get a little emotional about it?

VAZQUEZ: Oh, yes. Whoo, do you know how long that I don't see the light in my house? Nine months. I mean, nine months.

SANTIAGO (on camera): And now another hurricane could be around the corner for the next season?

VAZQUEZ: Yes. I guess I've got to do -- do it again -- by hand again for the people.

SANTIAGO (voice over): The hope here is that power returns before the next storm.


BROWN: And Leyla, when Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about the disparity in death toll numbers, her response was that it was FEMA's largest response ever to a natural disaster in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Does that ring true to you, given what you saw on the ground after the hurricane, given how much time you spent there?

SANTIAGO: Right. Listen, FEMA is committing $2.4 billion in assistance to Puerto Rico, but the biggest problem is that right now even if they pump in more money, this is an island that is very vulnerable after Maria. So the response for anything that could come this way could need to be even more than what we saw in Maria, given the vulnerability of the power grid, given the vulnerability of the fact that there are still so many blue tarps on top of the roofs of the homes of this island.

When you fly in, you just see blue on top of homes. And those are blue tarps, 30-day-old blue tarps that are still providing shelters to families. I don't want to give away or take away any credit. There has been a lot of progress. 99.2 percent of homes have had power restored. That still leaves more than 10,000 people without power as we're going in to the next hurricane season.

So FEMA did respond. Many have criticized it for not being fast enough. But you better believe for the next one there will be even more of a need.

BROWN: All right, Leyla Santiago, thank you so much.

And up next, on this Saturday, a key Republican lawmaker pushing back on President Trump's so-called spy scandal claims. Now Trey Gowdy is facing backlash from Trump allies.

And CNN's Kamau Bell goes back to college. Here's a preview of tomorrow night's "Unite Shades of America."


KAMAU BELL, CNN'S "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" HOST: If you're like me, you went to college. If you're not like me, then you actually graduated from college. When I think college, I think 8:00 a.m. classes, sleeping, classes and football. Now, most college, the exciting part about football is the game. But at some college, the exciting part is what happened at halftime.

On this episode of "United Shades of America," we're talking about historically black colleges and universities. Why they were and why they still are relevant. And maybe I'll even learn how to do some of this. It's not going to happen. Not going to happen.


BROWN: Catch an all new "United Shades of America" tomorrow night at 10:00 right here on CNN.


[12:43:25] BROWN: Spies, lies and the President who uses those words a lot in tweets about the Russia investigation. Most recently in his unsupported claims that the FBI infiltrated his campaign with the spy. In one instance this week, he tweeted this, "The corrupt mainstream media is working overtime, not to mention the infiltration of people, spies, informants, into my campaign. Surveillance much?"

Congressman Trey Gowdy who saw intelligence last week says that's just not the case.


REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Donald Trump was never the target of the investigation. He's not the current target of the investigation. Now, keep in mind, that can all change depending on what a witness says. But as of now, I think Chris Wray and Rod Rosenstein are stunned whenever people think Trump is the target of their investigation. I'll leave it up to them how to brief the President or how to brief his lawyer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With that point of view that you're talking about right now, was that strengthened when you went into this briefing last week?

GOWDY: Yes. 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.


BROWN: Joining me again, Ken Blackwell and Maria Cardona. All right, Ken, Congressman Gowdy was a hero to Republicans after leading the House investigation of Benghazi, but some see his defense of the FBI as turning against the President and have lashed out at him. Rudy Giuliani dismissing Gowdy's defense of the FBI as, quote, drinking the cool-aid. Do you agree with that assessment?

KEN BLACKWELL (R), FORMER OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: Look, this is one of those classic cases where some of my friends say this, some of my friends say that. And I love all of my friends. [12:45:03] Look, Trey has narrowcast this down to a question of spy gate. Where spies dropped into the campaign to spy on the campaign to get some dirt, to stir up some dirt on the then candidate Trump and others. And he is basically saying from what he was told no to that.

Rudy Giuliani, on the other hand, understands that the threat of impeachment is a political process. It is not a legal process or a criminal justice process. It's a political process. And so, he is engaged in basically attempting to make sure that a point of view is shared with the base, that all things were not cultured, but how this was handled by the then Justice Department higher ups. It's pure and simple.

So I think one is playing a political game. The other is, in fact, talking about a narrow legal issue. And they're both right.

BROWN: Maria, you agree with that?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I didn't really understand what that meant, Ken. Sorry. Because it's actually very simple. Trey Gowdy is now being attacked by Trump's allies because he committed the ultimate sin. He told the truth.

We already know that this President doesn't have any relationship with the truth, which is why the only thing he spouts on Twitter are these fantastical lies and myths because he himself is feeling caged in by the investigation, by Bob Mueller. And so what he's trying to do is to discredit, discredit, discredit every chance he gets.

Meanwhile, we have Trey Gowdy who has been a supporter of the President but who has also done something that very few people have, which he has actually seen the classified information and it's coming from his mouth, a Republican who has supported the President and essentially saying that what the President is saying is wrong. So that is why he is getting the attacks from the President's allies. I think that what he did was right on. It is something that we should see more from Republicans, who should stand up and be for the truth, and so good for him.

BROWN: And it is notable that Devin Nunes, the other Republican who is there in that briefing, has remained silent. He was someone -- he is seen as an ally of the President and who is really raising questions about this notion of a spy in the campaign. Ken, how long can the White House push this position with no evidence to back it up?

BLACKWELL: As long as there is hard evidence and I think sunshine --

BROWN: What hard evidence are you referring to?

BLACKWELL: Excuse me, as long as there is hard evidence that McCabe, that Comey, you know, that they are not virtues of the truth, that they have in fact engaged in questionable acts. There have been folks who have been released because they were engaged in political activity that was untoward in terms of the mission of the FBI. So there's a lot of hard evidence that everything was not culture and, kosher with this -- with the FBI and the Justice Department, under Obama. So there's just real clear evidence that this, this spin and it's accurate spin that Rudy is playing out in the political arena is to the defense of the President politically and I encourage him to continue to do it. Trey and those who -- from the Senator McConnell and others who were in that room were looking at evidence on the narrow issue of whether or not there were spies dropped into the campaign, and they --

BROWN: But that's what the President is saying. The President is saying that.


BROWN: Go ahead. Do you think Trey Gowdy is lying?

BLACKWELL: Again, what the President's team is doing it, in fact, raising doubts around the political process, there has been an overlay of this investigation, and you can't deny that. That this, in fact -- impeachment talk is --

CARDONA: That is exactly what the President is doing.



BLACKWELL: The President is right. Rudy is right --

CARDONA: He's trying to discredit the investigation. And I'm sorry, Ken, but both things can't be true. The President can't be right and --

BLACKWELL: Was McCabe guilty of bad behavior?

CARDONA: The president -- no hang on, hang on, hang on, Ken. Hang on, Ken. We're not talking about --

BROWN: Ken, hold on.

CARDONA: We're not talking about McCabe. We're not talking about Comey. This is actually very simple. Either the President is right when he says that there was a spy that was dropped into his campaign to spy on him and the campaign, or Trey Gowdy is right when he says he has seen the intelligence and there is no truth and no evidence to what the President is saying.

[12:50:13] Both things cannot be true. I trust Trey Gowdy. I trust the people who have seen this intelligence. And, frankly, the fact that you have Devin Nunes completely silent, that you have Marco Rubio and Graham also saying that there has been no evidence to support what President Trump is trying to put out there. I think that speaks volumes.

BROWN: But do you see his point that, look, some of the other leaders of the FBI Comey and McCabe have had questionable behavior in his view, Republican's view -- CARDONA: They're gone.

BROWN: -- and that raises questions?

CARDONA: And they're gone. Yes, McCabe was fired. And again I think what Trump is trying to do and his allies like Ken is to conflate the two. And it's weird for me, a Democrat, a progressive and a liberal, to be defending the FBI, but that's kind of where we have gone. Because more than that, I see what we're doing is defending the truth while Trump has no idea what the truth means.

BROWN: And you do have Rudy Giuliani saying just recently that all of this is part of a P.R. strategy to sway public opinion. Ken Black well, Maria Cardona, as always, thank you so much.

CARDONA: Thank you.

BROWN: And we'll be right back.


BROWN: A troubling new discovery. Cell phone surveillance devices known as stingrays found near the White House and other sensitive locations around Washington, D.C. CNN's Jessica Schneider has all the details.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: A study just released is now revealing the presence of cell phone spying devices all around Washington D.C., including near the White House. Now this spying technology which is often known by its brand name stingray, it was discovered by the Department of Homeland Security during a study in 2017. It had been previously reported that some of the devices were discovered around D.C. But this is the first time we're hearing they were also near the White House.

[12:55:04] Now these devices they essentially act as fake cell phone towers. As mobile devices connect to them, the people of the entities operating them are able to snoop on the traffic that goes right through them. That means they can track phones, they can intercept phone calls, they can access some text messaging that isn't encrypted and they can even plant malware on the phones they pick up.

And this is creating particular concern. Because of our reporting from multiple sources that the President has increasingly been using his personal cell phone to talk with friends and even to tweet. A senior White House official though insists that the President's phone is secure. But a Democratic Senator, Ron Wyden, he is now demanding that telephone companies and the Federal Communications Commission Act to stop any potential spying, especially because, as he puts it, the President and his personal phone could be a target of foreign intelligence services.

The FCC, though, declined a previous request from Democratic lawmakers to investigate other devices that were found around Washington. The FCC at that point said there was no evidence yet that those devices were being unlawfully used. Now, when it comes to all of this and these cases, law enforcement has already done some investigation. They've determined that at least some of the devices and the signals came from legitimate devices. But it appears, of course, there are lingering questions about whether any foreign entities may have set up any of these spying devices.

Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.

BROWN: And our thanks to Jessica. And we have much more news just ahead right here in the Newsroom on this Saturday and it all starts right after this break.