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President Trump Through His Lawyers Arguing There Is No Way He Obstructed Justice; President Trump Began Considering The Pardon; Kim Jong-un Sends Giant Letter To President Trump; Trump Summit With Kim Back On After Dramatic Photo Op; President Condemns Samantha Bee, Fumes About Double Standard But Remains Silent On Roseanne; Man Killed After Car Speeds Onto Little League Field. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired June 2, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:11] ANNOUNCER: this is CNN breaking news.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Great to have you with us. It is all breaking news this evening on CNN.
President Trump through his lawyers arguing there is no way he obstructed justice. One of the reasons, in short, because he is the President, period. "The New York Times" obtained this confidential letter written by the President's legal team and hand delivered to special counsel Robert Mueller's office back in January. It is 20 pages long. It makes quite a few claims, among them that the President can't possibly obstruct the Russia investigation because he is in charge of it, and everyone involved with it.
Here is what Trump's legal team says about that. Quote "it remains our position that the President's actions here by virtue of his position as the chief law enforcement officer could neither constitutionally nor legally constitute obstruction because that would amount to him obstructing himself, and that he could if he wished terminate the inquiry or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired."
Now this letter also acknowledges that Trump did in fact dictate his son's misleading statement about that infamous Trump tower meeting with the Russians. Here is what they write.
You have received all the notes, communications, and testimony indicating that the President dictated a short but accurate response to "The New York Times" article on behalf of his son Donald Trump Jr.
Now this is the first time the President's attorneys have acknowledged that Trump dictated the statement. In fact they, along with press secretary Sarah Sanders, previously denied the President played any part. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)[
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was written by Donald Trump Jr. And I'm sure in consultation with his lawyer. So that wasn't written by the President.
The President didn't sign off on anything. The President was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement. It came from Donald Trump Jr.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He certainly didn't dictate. But you know, like I said, he weighed in, offered suggestions, like any father would do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: OK. So there's that. There's also this. The letter claims President Trump was taken out of context when he gave an interview to NBC's Lester Holt and explained his decision to fire James Comey. I will let you decide.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Let's bring in our panel to discuss. Joining us, CNN political analyst and executive editor for Central Newspaper, Brian Karem. CNN political analyst and senior political correspondent for the "Washington Examiner" David Drucker. And CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Paul Callan.
So Paul, I want to hone in first with you on this reversal. President Trump's lawyers who initially claimed, as we played, he had nothing to do with that Trump tower statement from Don Junior and now we have this letter. Why is it so critical?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it is critical because it first demonstrates that Mr. Trump was obviously lying to his lawyers if the lawyers are now being honest, about what went down, because everything said that the President knew nothing about what Don Junior had said in the Trump tower meeting.
Don Junior himself testified before Congress that he had no recollection of -- or he couldn't recollect the details of the meeting. Now bear in mind, this is a meeting in which the premise for the meeting was dirt on Hillary Clinton. It's attended by Don Junior by Jared Kushner and by then-campaign manager Paul Manafort. This is the big guns in the campaign meeting with some Russian lawyer about Russian adoptions, which was the initial cover story, absolutely not.
So now for the first time, you see the lawyers concede yes, there was a meeting, and yes, the President dictated the false claim about what really transpired in the meeting. So I think that's a big revelation by these lawyers. CABRERA: This letter that we are just learning about is supposed to
be a defense to obstruction of justice. But could that letter, on the Trump tower meeting that the statement that now we know is dictated by the President, also play into the question of collusion?
CALLAN: Well, it could play into the question of collusion, because obviously they are having a meeting in the Trump tower about using Russian dirt to try to move the election. That sounds like collusion.
On the issue that is raised by the lawyers, though, they essentially say, he is the President. He is in charge of the justice department and the FBI. He gives the orders as to what they do, so he can't obstruct justice, he would be obstructing himself. Now I think most lawyers would not agree with that theory. The President can be guilty of obstruction if there is a corrupt purpose to terminate the investigation.
[20:05:04] CABRERA: They say it doesn't matter what his purpose was.
CALLAN: Well, I would have to disagree with that and I think most lawyers would. If there is clearly a corrupt purpose in obstructing an investigation, even the President can be guilty of obstruction.
CABRERA: David, this letter also addresses several of the most questionable actions President Trump has taken. It tackles in asking Comey to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn. It tries to clarify Trump's comments about his reasoning behind firing Comey. It defenses action in his dictation of the Trump Jr. statement as he mentioned. What do you think benefits more by this letter now becoming public?
DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that the Trump team would believe that having this leak now is a benefit to them. It gives the President a chance to accuse the special counsel or people associated with him of trying to leak this to damage the President. And we saw the President complain about this earlier today on twitter.
And I think if we get to the end of the line here and the special counsel issues a report and some of these revelations are a part of it, we have long since raked this over the coals and it's old news and it doesn't have the same punch as being a part of whatever the special counsel's report is going to say at that time.
CABRERA: So you are saying this actually benefits the President?
DRUCKER: I'm saying it could benefit the President. But I'm saying that I believe that the President's team I would speculate, but I feel very good about the speculation, that the President's team is not unhappy about this leak. And then you have to ask yourself who is in a position to leak this. Well, clearly, the special counsel's team is because they have possession of the letter. And so are the people who drafted the letter.
Who is more likely to have leaked this? When you look at the special counsel's team, so far they have been very airtight. They have not given away anything. CABRERA: Brian, let me ask you specifically about Comey's firing and
what they say in this letter. His attorneys argue he was taken out of context when the President said in that interview with Lester Holt that he fired Comey because of the, quote "Russia thing."
As a journalist, executive editor, you know how important it is to make sure subjects are portrayed accurately. Do you think the President was taken out of context?
BRIAN KAREM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No. The President was not taken out of context, not at that time. But which context do we mean and which excuse do we have that are we referring to? Because I have heard three or four different reasons why he has fired Comey. The one with Lester Holt is not taken out of context.
And I would remind the President of the United States that he was elected by the people of the United States and no man is above the law. That has been a founding precept of ours for 200 some-odd years. And the chutzpah, the sheer chutzpah to come out and say, you know, hey, I can't break the law, I'm the guy.
He is not the government. He is part of the government. And what David says is absolutely true. Who benefits most from this? It's definitely going to be the President. They are playing their cards in the court of public opinion because as Rudolph Giuliani said last week, he believes this will end up in impeachment. So he is trying to influence as many people as possible so down the road it's impossible or harder or impossible to impeach the President. That's where he think it's going, not what I'm saying, it's what Giuliani had said.
So keep that in mind. And so, everything that we see by the President is staged. I would not -- I feel very comfortable that they are very happy it was leaked. I agree with David. And I would not doubt that perhaps someone very near and dear that we all know helped leak it.
CABRERA: Giuliani, by the way, was not the President's lawyer at the time when this letter was drafted and hand-delivered.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
CABRERA: But he did say today telling ABC today that this letter is still very much the President's legal strategy. I want to play for you what he said last weekend about President Trump possibly testifying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LAWYER: If everything could be worked out, then they would probably limit it to collusion and obstruction. The collusion part we're pretty comfortable with, because there has been none. The obstruction part I'm not as comfortable with. The President is fine with it. He is innocent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Paul, what do you make of that comment, knowing what we know now in regards to this letter, too?
CALLAN: I don't know, it's just another strange Giuliani comment. I mean, the President is OK with it, meaning the President doesn't think he obstructed anything, but "I'm not OK with it," meaning Giuliani thinks if the President is questioned, maybe he is going to give himself up on obstruction? I think that's a fair interpretation as to what Giuliani just said, and he is the President's lawyer. He thinks obstruction is a danger for the President which makes me wonder is there more that we don't know about because of actions taken by the President to try to obstruct the investigation? Obviously, Giuliani is worried.
CABRERA: Gentlemen, let me read you another portion of this letter where Trump's attorney writes this.
Quote "more is at stake here than just this inquiry, more even than just the presidency of Donald J. Trump. This inquiry and the precedents set herein will also impact the office of the President of the United States of America in perpetuity, ensuring that the office remains safer than above the prey of shifting political winds and gamesmanship is of critical importance.
I hear you laughing already, Brian. Why?
[20:10:11] KAREM: He is already stained the presidency. Of course it's going to affect him in perpetuity. And as far as collusion goes, I'm not the legal guy. I don't know from collusion. I only know I saw Donald J. Trump, the candidate, standing up in a room full of people on national television, inviting Russians to hack Hillary's email. So as far as that goes, that's pretty much all I needed to know. He was talking to the Russians.
As far as that statement goes, come on. At the end of the day, if he has -- what that statement says is, even if you broke the law, hey, don't come down on him because you will stain the office of the presidency. Between him and Richard Nixon, at this point I don't know who has created the larger stain. But it's a cancer on the executive office of the United States. And it's got to be dealt with. And it will affect us in perpetuity.
CABRERA: David, there is also this in this letter, where Trump's attorneys are arguing that Trump is too busy running the country. We have heard that argument before. For him to prepare or sit down for an interview. Do you think that argument is hurt by how often Trump --?
DRUCKER: He plays golf.
CABRERA: And golf.
DRUCKER: Well, look. I think it's an argument that Presidents like to make, that issues like this and attacks like this get in the way of their doing the job for the American people. And I would say as a political matter, the best thing the President could do to get through all of this and come up on the right side of it politically, and we saw Bill Clinton do this throughout the whitewater investigation was to do -- is to do his job rather than complain about the investigation. By doing his job, as Bill Clinton did and presented that image in the late '90s, voters came to the conclusion that yes, the President might have done something wrong but we are really happy with the job he is doing.
In the 1990 midterms, Democrats picked up seats rather than losing them because they ended up being angry with Republicans for pushing an investigation that actually found wrongdoing in the president. The President himself admitted it. The President was impeached by it and yet politically at that moment Bill Clinton was on the better side of the argument. And I think that if the President was able to present this image that he is not complaining about this, he is leaving it to his lawyers, he is not going to talk about it, he is going to do his job and deliver results, in theory he could end up having the same story or result as Bill Clinton did at that time.
So I understand, Ana, I guess what I'm saying, I understand the argument. It's not an argument that's going to stop the special counsel and it's not an argument that I think will necessarily impact Americans' judgment of this. But that depends on what ultimately comes of this and what the special counsel's report says by the time we get to a conclusion.
CABRERA: All right.
CALLAN: You know, there's an old saying, it's about the economy. And --
DRUCKER: It's about the economy stupid.
CALLAN: Yes, I wanted to leave the "stupid" out, there's been enough name calling this week.
CALLAN: But --
DRUCKER: I'm just quoting.
CABRERA: All right. Gentlemen, thank you all. Good to have you with us.
Paul Callan, David Drucker, and Brian Karem, I appreciate it.
Coming up, pardon parade? The President considers clemency for two more big names. But is it mainly a message to allies in the Russia probe?
Plus, crossing the line. President Trump calls for Samantha Bee to be fired for a vulgar attack on his daughter but stays silent on Roseanne Barr's racist tweet. Is it a double standard or a political play?
[20:17:39] CABRERA: Tonight the power of the pardon. The President finds a new way to push back on a justice department he has repeatedly called unfair. First there was the surprise pardon of Dinesh D'Souza, the conservative commentator convicted of campaign finance violations. White House officials tell CNN President Trump began considering the pardon several weeks ago. And coincidentally, that would be when D'Souza appeared on the President's favorite morning show to talk about his case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DINESH D'SOUZA, PARDONED BY PRESIDENT TRUMP: The FBI, which uncovered this, was clearly signaling to Obama and to the holder just department, hey, this guy is a political enemy, let's prosecute him. So what's interesting is that my case is quite clearly a political hit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Sound familiar? President Trump also thinks he is a victim of a political hit.
And now the President is considering pardons or commutations for two more people. Martha Stewart, who was convicted of obstruction of justice as part of an insider trading scandal among other charges, and former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat convicted of trying to sell President Obama's old Senate seat to the highest bidder. They are both celebrities in their own right. They both know Donald Trump personally. They also happened to work on his show, "the Apprentice." Here is a reminder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will do anything legal and ethical and honest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You talked about quitting. I don't think I've ever quit a job. I mean, I've gone through going to jail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Well, that's not the only thing they have in common. Their cases are also linked to Trump's arch nemesis, former FBI director James Comey. Comey prosecuted Stewart and Comey's close friend, Patrick Fitzgerald, prosecuted Blagojevich.
With all these pardons, critics say the President is sending a clear message to a looks caught up in the Russia probe: stay loyal, you will be rewarded. Even Trump ally Roger Stone tells "the Washington Post" quote it has to be a signal to Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort, and even Robert S. Mueller III, indict people for crimes that don't pertain to Russian collusion and this is what could happen. The special counsel has awesome powers but as you know, the President has even more awesome powers.
Joining us now, CNN Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley.
So Doug, what's your reaction to Stone's comment? [20:20:08] DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I think
Stone is telling us the way it really is. Donald Trump right now is starting to realize that it's the home stretch of the horse race of Mueller report and the midterm elections coming up. And in some of these pardons that he is been doing, sheriff Arpaio and Scooter Libby, those were just red meat for the Trump base.
But this week with Dinesh D'Souza, you are starting to see him sending, I think, a clear smoke signal to general Flynn, to Michael Cohen, you know, maybe to others, don't capitulate, we are going to win this thing and at the end of the line, if you hold the line and stay loyal to me, there could be a pardon at the other end if you get into trouble.
CABRERA: Now the crimes are those -- the President has pardoned or maybe thinking about pardoning include campaign finance violations, obstruction of justice, lying to investigators, corruption.
Here is what our own legal analyst (INAUDIBLE) had to say on that.
Quote "someone gave him a list of all the possible charges he is going to face and he is finding celebrities convicted of them to pardon." Hashtag consciousness of guilt.
What do you think, Doug?
BRINKLEY: I think it is not just consciousness of guilt, but the ideas that we just get used to pardons. I would expect more to come. It is early June. And I think you will get more this month and in July. So when he does pardons other people, it's like, forget it, you know, who cares?
Donald Trump had trademarked "you're fired." He is now starting to do "you are pardoned." And he likes it because of it's kind of an imperial presidency, it's something he can do. He can circumvent Congress. In a way he is punishing James Comey, FBI, and just making people question, you know, what's right and what's wrong.
But this is a direct attempt by Donald Trump here in my view to start muddying the waters even more on the Mueller report, because he knows there's probably an obstruction of justice charge coming down the railroad.
CABRERA: Rod Blagojevich's wife was on FOX News reacting to word the President might help her husband, ultimately her family. She seemed to draw comparisons between her husband's conviction and the Russia investigation, in fact. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATTI I BLAGOJEVICH, ROD BLAGOJEVICH'S WIFE: I see that. I see that the same people that did this to my family, the same people that, you know, secretly taped us and twisted the facts and perverted the law that ended up with my husband in jail, you know, these same people are trying to do the same thing that they did to my husband just on a much larger scale. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: She is clearly hoping her message resonates with the President.
BRINKLEY: Well, yes. And there are a lot of -- Kim Kardashian this week came to see Donald Trump. There's a feeling if you can get one on one time with Trump, you could have a pet cause, you can get somebody pardoned. And he is encouraging that because it shows himself as being an omnipotent President, somebody that can make the difference between freedom or prison.
Unfortunately, that's not the way we are supposed to be running the executive branch. You know, usually pardons come from really studying carefully who should get a pardon and who not, and usually at the end of an administration. But we see Trump doing it now to try to punish, you know, anybody in the justice department and FBI that's related to Comey and Rosenstein in any way.
CABRERA: Of course, though, we had Bill Clinton who pardoned his own half-brother. Do you see this as being different?
BRINKLEY: And he got pummeled for doing that, Bill Clinton, pardoning his half-brother, pardoning Marc Rich. History doesn't shine a bright light on Bill Clinton. It's kind of the low ebb of presidency. Clinton left not only doing pardons but on the idea that they strip some things out of the White House. And Clinton ended his presidency in a good way.
But remember, Bill Clinton did start the drum speeding for obstruction of justice charges against him. There was impeachment going on for Richard Nixon had obstruction of justice charges.
But with the 20-page letter just released by I think by Rudy Giuliani and his team, they are trying to now say that there is no such thing as obstruction of justice for the President of the United States. So that letter today is connected to the pardons of this past week. It is all part of the Trump offensive strategy to smear the Mueller report findings.
CABRERA: Douglas Brinkley, thank you very much.
BRINKLEY: Thank you.
CABRERA: Coming up, the envelope, please. The President's on again/off again summit with North Korea is back on again after a dramatic photo in the oval office.
[20:29:28] CABRERA: It was diplomacy made for TV. Take a President and a former reality star, mix in a former North Korean sky, a photo op, plus a really big envelope, what do you get in a case of this White House? A historic summit, the President said is back on again in its original schedule time slot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We will be meeting on June 12th in Singapore. It went very well. It is really get to know you kind of a situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Adding to the summit story line, a tease from the President about that cartoon-size letter delivered in front of the cameras by Kim Jong-un's right-hand man.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was a meeting where a letter was given to me by Kim Jong-un. And that letter was a very nice letter. Oh, would you like to see what was in that letter? Would you like -- how much? How much? How much?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you please give us the flavor of the letter?
TRUMP: It was a very interesting letter. I haven't seen the letter yet. I purposely didn't open the letter. I haven't opened it. I didn't open it in front of the director. I said, "Would you want me to open it?" He said, "You can read it later." I may be in for a big surprise, folks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: And despite the picture perfect ending of smiles and handshakes, the concern now, whether the president is doing too much to please Pyongyang and make a deal. Here he is, one week ago, and then yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Our very strong sanctions and maximum pressure campaign will continue as it has been continuing.
I don't even want to use the term maximum pressure anymore because I don't want to use that term, because we're getting along. You see the relationship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: I want to bring in CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez. Now, Boris, the president is spending the weekend at Camp David, presumably preparing for this upcoming summit. Can they pull it off in time?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's the big question, Ana. I actually got a chance to asked Sarah Sanders today how the president was preparing and she indicated that he was spending at least part of his weekend preparing for the summit with Kim Jong-un on June 12th in Singapore, but we didn't get any details as far as who he's consulting with or what exactly he is reviewing. It is notable with the president has had this shift in tone going from calling Kim Jong-un "Little Rocket Man" to saying that he doesn't want to exert maximum pressure on the Kim regime.
The president is also tempering expectations. There was one point where the United States refused to even sit down with the North Koreans if the regime didn't commit to full verifiable denuclearization. Yesterday, the president essentially said that this meeting would be a first step moving in that direction, that it was a get to know you meeting. Within the administration, they insist that this is not only a first step, but really a move that is in the president's favor because he has leverage. Donald Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., was actually on a Sirius XM radio show this morning arguing that any progress is better than the status quo. Listen to this.
DONALD TRUMP JR., ELDEST CHILD OF DONALD TRUMP (via telephone): The reality of the situation is my father does negotiate, he understands how that works. The status quo has been going on in the U.S. for 60 years. That's our worst-case scenario. He maintains that. So he can walk away. They can actually do something great for their country. So he has a lot of leverage. He knows that. And he's not afraid to use that.
SANCHEZ: Now, there are some within the president's own party even who have addressed skepticism when it comes to the North Koreans, including senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell. Yesterday, he was talking about the potential for the administration to get snookered into a bad deal with the North Koreans if the Trump administration is too eager to come up with a deal. He's warning the United States that being too eager may make the North Koreans more powerful and ultimately not avert a nuclear conflict. Ana.
CABRERA: Boris, let me ask you about this new report that the U.S. officials are planning the summit have now run into a logistical problem. Who's going to pick up the tab for Kim Jong-un's hotel bill? What's the latest?
SANCHEZ: That's right, The Washington Post citing administration sources that say that there is a bit of a disagreement over who is going to foot the bill for his accommodations. We understand that the North Koreans are demanding that someone else foot the bill. And from what we understand, sources have pointed out that Kim Jong-un apparently wants to stay at the Fullerton Hotel. It's a luxury five- star resort in Singapore. The presidential suite goes for about $6,000 a night. The White House is not commenting on the situation, although, Ana, we will likely get more details as we move ahead. Again, that reporting not confirmed by CNN, attributable to The Washington Post."
CABRERA: All right. Boris Sanchez at the White House, thanks, as always.
Coming up, Roseanne goes too far and gets cancelled, but Samantha Bee still has her job. Is there a double standard as President Trump claims? We'll dig into that, next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [20:35:39] CABRERA: He may have had nothing to say about that racist tweet that got Roseanne fired. But President Trump is plenty interested in weighing in on another comedian's offensive comment. Quote, "Why aren't they firing no talent Samantha Bee?" He tweeted for the horrible language used on her low ratings show? A total double standard, but that's OK. We are winning and we'll be doing so for a long time to come. Now, Samantha Bee, as you know, was under fire for making a vulgar remark about Trump's daughter and senior advisor, Ivanka. We've bleeped up the profanity but the point comes across.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAMANTHA BEE, COMEDIENNE: Ivanka Trump who works at the White House chose to post the second most oblivious tweet we've seen this week. You know, Ivanka, that's a beautiful photo of you and your child, but let me just say, one mother to another, do something about your dad's immigration practices, you feckless (BLEEP). He listens to you. Put on something tight and low cut and tell your father to (BLEEP) stop it. Tell him it was an Obama thing and see how it goes, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Bee and TBS, which is owned by the same parent company as CNN, both apologized. They both apologized, but she still has her job, unlike Roseanne.
Joining me now, comedian Maysoon Zayid. And Daily Beast contributor and host of the Dean Obeidallah Show on Sirius XM Radio, Dean Obeidallah.
[20:40:03] Dean, I'll start with you. Should Samantha Bee still have her job?
DEAN OBEIDALLAH, HOST OF DEAN OBEIDALLAH SHOW: Sure. She should. Because -- first of all, we need to laugh more than ever during the time of Trump. And I think --
CABRERA: But did you think that was funny?
OBEIDALLAH: I think that that line is no, but what led to it were jokes bringing attention to Donald Trump's inhumane immigration policies separating mothers from their children. And that was the point --
CABRERA: She stepped on her own line.
OBEIDALLAH: Exactly, that's the unfortunate thing. I don't think comedians are playing the big role. I mean, Jimmy Kimmel talking about the ACA and children health insurance program, the SNL to Samantha Bee whose point voices bringing attention to issues to younger people who might not watch CNN or either the news networks. So first of all, it's not about the standard. I think that -- your double standard here is the same thing to compare. Roseanne bar was a racist. Samantha Bee was profanity. Profanity that was riled with profanity. If -- and let me make it some point, if Roseanne had called Valerie Jarrett the c word, I don't think she wouldn't have been fired. People would have been outraged then that's beneath here was vulgar. And Samantha Bee had used something like the N word and a hateful word. I think she would have been fired. So there's no double standard. I think it's unfortunately some, like Donald Trump, refuses to denounce or just at least did not denounce or just at least did not denounce Roseanne Barr's racism. It's deluding integrating what racism is to compare profanity with racism. They are not the same and we can't treat them the same.
CABRERA: Maysoon, do you agree? Do you believe there is a moral equivalency between what Roseanne said, her racist remarks basically comparing Valerie Jarett to an ape and then what we just heard from Samantha Bee using variable uncomfortable language for me to listen to that. What do you think?>
MAYSOON ZAYID, AMERICAN ACTRESS: I think there's absolutely no equivalence and I think that the people who are -- most of the people who are outraged, it's false outrage, because the reality is that a lot of the people that are going after Sam are insisting, insisting that Roseanne did nothing wrong. And they just want to distract by going after her. And I understand that there are definitely women who find those terms despicable, find them violent. I personally don't use the c word or even the b word in my comedy because I think this presidency has normalized misogyny to the point where I don't want to be complicit in that. I think complicit would have been a better word for Ivanka than the one that Sam Bee used. But I think the outrage is totally false. Because if you turn on American television, put on The "Real Housewives," put on the "Bachelorette," you'll hear real women screaming that word at each other.
CABRERA: So you think racism or racist remarks is where the line is or is somewhere else? Is it more of --
ZAYID: I think that context actually matters. And I think that being outwardly racist is definitely a line that shouldn't be crossed. I see it crossed all the time by other people. I was surprised that ABC fired Roseanne, because I thought she'd get away with it because I witnessed years and years of her being really vile and bigoted and seeing no ramifications. Getting a show even though she had a history of transphobia, of bigotry, of racism. This is not new for her. And I think that's the biggest thing for Sam Bee.
CABRERA: And yet she did say she had hoped that this reboot would bring people together. In fact, here's what she said back in March. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROSEANNE BARR, AMERICAN ACTRESS: I really hope that it opens up, you know, civil conversation between people instead just mudslinging. I really do, because I think we need to be more civilized than that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: What happened? OBEIDALLAH: I don't know what happened. Whatever got the best of her on Twitter? And it was what she said was horrible. But to be clear, Roseanne has come after me personally a few years ago on Twitter because I wrote an article about my Palestinian father, it really was not even political and she called me essentially anti-Semitic and accorded me with terrorism and then blocked me. So for years, Roseanne has been out there spilling hate. I heard about Christina last month saying, ABC, you're really going to potentially have a lot of problems with your advertisers depending of what she does. And I was not happy to be right. I was hoping she had evolved. We want people to evolve for the better.
Samantha Bee, to your point, has no history of hateful comments like this. Roseanne has it. I cannot believe ABC hired her. But by firing her swiftly, it moves either cultural norms, forward for the best and Donald Trump not denouncing her hurts cultural norms to racism is OK to this present. But when he denounced Donald -- David Duke on this very channel when (INAUDIBLE) asked him after Charlottesville. We know how he equated white supremacists with those protesting as very fine people. Donald Trump is not sending the message that a leader should who cares about defeating racists or he's marginalizing racists. It seems he's not troubled by it. We are.
CABRERA: Let's play the president's own words for a moment.
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TRUMP: You had some very bad people in that group but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. Look at my African- American over here.
When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists.
[20:45:05] Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say get that son of a (BLEEP) off the field right now.
They call her Pocahontas.
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CABRERA: In a new comment just today, Valerie Jarrett, again, who was the target of Roseanne's comment, said the tone starts at the top, Maysoon. But is it fair to put the blame on the president?
ZAYID: Yes, it absolutely is fair to put the blame on the president. Because we can't possibly hold comedians to a higher standard than the president. And again, I agree that the term that Samantha Bee used was violent and misogynistic. But like Dean said, she doesn't have a history of being a violent woman and it's the opposite. And she's raised lots of money for women, she's raised lots of money for Puerto Rico. She apologized. When has Trump ever apologize for calling Colin Kaepernick's mom a bitch? This is just as bad as the c word in my book. What's the difference between those two words? And it's not saying, well, if he can do it, she can do it and there are no ramifications. It's saying again, I don't believe the outrage, the wanting to have her fired, the actual stifling of the first amendment, because this time it really is the government trying to punish someone for speaking out. Roseanne being fired wasn't being punished.
CABRERA: So you even take issue with the fact that the president is saying there is a double standard here, Roseanne's show got canceled, Samantha Bee, she should be fired. You're worried about the first amendment with him trying to stifle it?
ZAYID: yes, I mean, first of all, he told players not to kneel and got the owners to go along with that and stifle their right to protest even though the corporation gets to decide, whether it's TBS or the NFL. When you have the pressure coming down from the president, this is dangerous. It's very, very dangerous.
OBEIDALLAH: I couldn't agree more. Donald Trump called for SNL to be canceled in October during the campaign, even after elected. Didn't like the way they were mocking him. After the show rolls with him and tweeted White House correspondents association should be gone or retooled. Donald Trump is affecting like an authoritarian leader, frankly, those who speak out against of either The Washington Post, CNN today tweeting about CNN. It doesn't matter. He wants to delegitimize those against, even comedians. This is wrong. This is wrong comedy should not be led by the president. Comedians are doing a great job. They're doing a service and entertaining people and educating people on important issues. And this is where we stand right now. We live in a country where the First Amendment, freedom of speech is under attack and it comes from the top.
CABRERA: That seems like a place to end. Thank you, guys. Dean, Maysoon, good to see you. Thank you again.
Coming up, some breaking news. Hundreds of firefighters on scene in massive brush fire in Southern California. We'll get an update.
[20:50:18] CABRERA: Welcome back. Authorities in Maine are trying to determine why a driver barreled onto a field of a little league game, it's happened on Friday and resulted in a 68-year-old man being killed. The incident was caught on video. Player scattered and he dodged and this car, you see it swerved all across the field. The driver then raced to the main gate and fled the scene hitting a man who witnesses say was trying to protect children. Authorities say Douglas Parkhurst died from his injuries. Police later arrested a 51- year-old woman and charged her with manslaughter. Little League official say all children at the event were safe.
Breaking news right now, some remarkable frightening video from southern California. This is Laguna Beach, south of Los Angeles, a massive brushfire started just a few hours ago and has quickly grown to about 125 acres. Nearly 300 firefighters are working on this on the ground and of course from the air, as you saw. Nobody reported hurt just yet, no buildings had been damaged. About 1,500 people who live nearby have been evacuated. We're keeping an eye on this fast moving fire. We will bring you updates, of course, if this situation gets into worst.
Tennis super star Serena Williams continues her groundbreaking come back to grand slam tennis. She dominated her first three matches this week in the French Open. This is her first competition in a major tournament in 16 months and since giving birth in September. She set to square off against familiar rival, Maria Sharapova on Monday. Quick break, we'll be right back.
[20:55:13] CABRERA: Tomorrow the brand new "PARTS UNKNOWN" Anthony Bourdain heads to one of his favorite city in the entire world. Hong Kong. Here's a preview.
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ANTHONY BOURDAIN, AMERICAN AND TELEVISION PERSONALITY: Whatever your feelings about how things are going some things are a constant, a comfort, a birth right. Like egg custard buns, egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, when steamed, the custard returns to more molten form. Braised chicken feet. First fried then braised with ginger and star anise before being finished in the steamer.
Is it possible to make a living playing your kind of music?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Hence, the day job.
BOURDAIN: Hence, the day job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, Hong Kong is a society that really values elitist and then professionalism.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But in a way that we are seeing even the standards are falling apart within the system.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's important to be part with it to make changes at all. If you just stay on the fringe, it's very hard to get people to listen to you.
BOURDAIN: What do young people want in Hong Kong? Are they different from the generation before or are they ready to think stuff and get angry?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the society itself is projecting a really unhealthy image of what young people should be like, because then always more to what a successful life is which is to get a house, see with the family, that sort of thing. It's not like we can actually change anything. It's quite a pessimistic thing to say. But it's more about doing things to keep yourself sane.
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CABRERA: Tune in for brand new "PARTS UNKNOWN" tomorrow night at 9:00 Eastern here on CNN. That does it for me for now. I'm Ana Cabrera. I'll be back at 5:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow. Thanks for being with me. Up next is a CNN original series "Event, 1968."