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Inspector General Report Expected to Fault Comey, Lynch on Clinton Case; GOP Report: Obama Admin Worked to Allow Iran to Exchange Billions to Bypass Sanctions; Rudy Giuliani speaks out about Stormy Daniels, Special Counsel, New Information on Kim Jong-Un; Trump: Prepared for Kim Jong-Un Nuclear Summit. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired June 7, 2018 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:30:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: What's your reaction? Because Comey has come under enormous amount of criticism for those two decisions.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: That's right. And one doesn't assume the job of FBI director, one of the most powerful jobs, that you'll be held into account and you'll be looked at to determine whether you made the right choice. I think what may potentially come from this report, I think one of the best aspects we can look forward to is some additional guidance or something codified in law or politics on what the FBI can and cannot do. So far they've taken the stance that you do not interrupt policy that may interrupt the election.
And we must maintain fairness and nonpartisanship and neutrality. I think Comey said, I can't do both of those things. When notifying Congress that someone was under investigation, I think you have to have something at the end of the day that the FBI can hang its hat on. The FBI to this day will look back on 2016 and describe it as the 25- day flood. If you're in the FBI, they're looking down the street and saying, we have both major party candidates, either directly or indirectly, under investigation, and we have a Department of Justice leadership that may be compromised, even reputationally, by the attorney general meeting on an airplane with the spouse of the subject of a criminal investigation.
Looking at all these factors, I think the FBI and the FBI director said the only thing we can do is ensure that the public has confidence and trust in us. It will be up to the American people to decide if it was the right decision.
BLITZER: Don't you think, Laura, he should have let the announcement come from the attorney general or the deputy attorney general or someone else other than an FBI director?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. And the idea of transparency motivates all public figures. It's why we actually believe democratic institutions are where they should be. But the idea is to find out whether that transparency motivation is otherwise bucking the system. The I.G. report is going to let us know whether there was some political motivation that accompanied that decision to say, I would like to enjoy the credibility and transparency. Remember, Jim Comey on book tour has probably shared a lot of pages of
the I.G. report which means he had complicated the fact that if Hillary Clinton had won the presidency, how it would be viewed if he held the information. Those in tandem are what the I.G. is looking into. Also the motivation of Loretta Lynch. Transparency is nice as long as it's not pre-contextual.
BLITZER: Very quickly.
CAMPBELL: I was going to add that I think the American people can also relax knowing that the I.G. is someone who is independent. This will be an opportunity to look at who was right and who was wrong in serving these administrations. At least for the American people looking for a true, honest assessment, think they can rest assured that this is the office that would do that.
BLITZER: I'm sure the I.G. will go into the whole issue, the charge against Comey that he leaked sensitive information to a law professor in New York in order for that law professor to leak that information to the news media. I'm sure they're going to get into that as well. We're anxious to get the report.
Laura Coates, Josh Campbell, guys, thanks so much.
We have live pictures coming in from the Rose Garden over at the White House. The president will be meeting with reporters there right at the top of the hour. He's meeting inside the Oval Office right now with the prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe. They'll have a joint news conference. They'll make opening statements and answer reporters' questions. We'll, of course, have live coverage.
And did the Obama administration go out of its way to help Iran use the U.S. financial system without congressional knowledge? That's the allegation some senior Senate Republicans are now making. We're going to ask the deputy of state, Tony Blinken, about that when we come back.
[13:38:25] BLITZER: Senate Republicans have accused the Obama administration of secretly working with Iran to exchange billions of dollars to bypass sanctions as part of the nuclear deal. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROB PORTMAN, (R), OHIO: In this case, we were told that there was going to be no access to the U.S. financial system because, as you recall, the primary sanctions stayed in place in regard to Iran. Only the secondary sanctions, other countries, were opened up. While they were saying there was no access to DOJ's financial system, they were actually providing a specific license to Iran to be able to convert into rials into dollars and eventually Euros. I think it's important they have that oversight. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's bring back CNN global affairs analyst, Tony Blinken, who once served as both deputy secretary of state, former deputy national security advisor during the Obama administration.
They are very angry, Senator Portman, other Republicans, that while you were in office, the president was in office, you did this secret deal with Iran of $6 billion they would have access to and you didn't inform Congress of this.
TONY BLINKEN, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: With great respect, it's simply wrong. First, there was no secret deal. Iran had money that was blocked in an account, its own money, that under the terms of the deal it had a right to bring back to Iran and it need some help in getting that done. The secretary at the time, jack loop, briefed to Congress at a staff level. There was nothing secret about this, there was no effort to give Iran --
BLITZER: Were you involved? Did you know about it?
BLINKEN: At the time, sure. It was, again, under the terms of the deal. And it was briefed to Congress repeatedly. So the idea that there was some kind of secret effort to give Iran access to the U.S. financial system, based on this report, is simply not true.
[13:40:09] BLITZER: But you didn't want American banks to help facilitate the transfer of the Iranian money the Iranians had into dollars, so they could get Euros, and the banks refused to do so because they thought they would be violating the U.S. sanctions against Iran.
BLINKEN: You've got it exactly right, and that's why they needed a one-time license to do that.
BLITZER: Even if they got that one-time license, they still refused to do so.
BLINKEN: The license was never used. But the bottom line is there was no effort to giving Iran the financial system, no ability to make transactions in dollars. It was a one-time license to try to help overcome a problem that they had, which was getting their own money back.
BLITZER: The criticism with this money was being held up but that the U.S., the argument is it was effectively giving the (ph) Iranians a bribe to go ahead and work out this nuclear deal.
BLINKEN: No, under the term of the deal, Iran had to get something for putting the --
(CROSSTALK) BLITZER: But before there was a deal, right? There had to be an advance --
BLINKEN: There was a --
BLITZER: When they would lift this part of that sanction, a one-time only lift, before the signing of the agreement, which is part of the criticism that you're getting right now. It was a payoff.
BLINKEN: There was the interim agreement and there was a final agreement. But under the terms of the agreement itself, Iran had the right in turn for these extraordinary constraints on its nuclear program, dismantling the entire program up front. The bargain it got out of that was to be able to get back its own money that was frozen in bank account around the world.
BLITZER: I understand they could get back their own money, but weren't they supposed to get back their own money after the deal had been signed is?
BLINKEN: Yes, but, Wolf, there was an interim agreement ahead of the final deal. We used that period to be able to negotiate the comprehensive deal we got. It was fully briefed to Congress, there was nothing secret about it. What was unfortunate here is the Republicans made an issue of this report. No Democrats were involved in it. They didn't reach out to any veterans of the Obama administration to find out their perspective on what happened. And at the time the secretary of the treasury spoke about this in testimony. At the staff level, there were briefings going on.
BLITZER: Open testimony, they briefed the members of Congress or this was secret?
BLINKEN: My recollection is certainly, after the fact, the secretary briefed this in open testimony, but certainly there were staff level briefings at the time.
BLITZER: -- the members of Congress, the group of eight or whatever, were notified? Is that what you're saying?
BLINKEN: Yes. I would have to verify the exact timing, but I do know that, more of less contemporaneously, this was briefed by Congress and it was alluded to by the secretary --
BLITZER: This wasn't easing of the sanctions in advance of the nuclear deal. President Trump now says he's not going to ease sanctions against North Korea until there's a denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, which is very different than the strategy you have. BLINKEN: It's kind of ironic that we're talking about this today,
because, on the very day we're talking about this, the Trump administration has apparently cut a deal with ZTE, this Chinese telecom company, to be let off the hook, including violating the sanctions against Iran. It's a rather strange happening.
BLITZER: They're going to give the United States a billion dollars and they're going to allow U.S. officials to go and oversee this company. It' a very complicated ZTE --
BLINKEN: Well, we'll see if --
BLITZER: Looking back on the way you did this one-time lifting of the sanction provision with its Treasury Department to get the Iranians access to $5.6 billion, almost $6 billion, should you have done it differently, with hindsight?
BLINKEN: With hindsight, I would say exactly the same thing. Which was, again, we were working to deal with maybe the number-one security threat of the United States, which was the fact that Iran was on the verge of having a breakout capacity to develop a nuclear weapon. We dealt with it. We dealt with it effectively. Iran had to get something in the process of making this agreement to, in effect, freeze and roll back --
BLITZER: You say that one-time agreement --
BLITZER: -- to convince the Iranians to go ahead and sign this deal?
BLINKEN: That was a piece, making sure we could move ahead with the agreement, an agreement that made us more secure and our partners and allies around the world more secure.
BLITZER: Tony Blinken, I know you were involved in that. Ben Rhodes was involved in that as well, the deputy national security adviser.
BLINKEN: That's right.
BLITZER: Jake Sullivan, what was his role?
BLINKEN: Jake Sullivan, Bill Burns (ph), they were the guys who actually went to Iran and negotiated, in the preliminary days, the agreement with the Iranians. And that led to an initial deal. That gave us kind of space to negotiate a more comprehensive deal.
BLITZER: Bill Burns (ph), the State Department, Jake Sullivan was working for you as well. When they went to Iran for these secret negotiations with the Iranians, was Congress informed? BLINKEN: I believe at the time that Congress -- certain members were
probably informed, but I would have to go back and check on exactly the time.
BLITZER: I'm told they're pretty angry that they only learned about these secret negotiations with the Iranians late but not contemporaneously.
[13:45:00] BLINKEN: Sure. Look, when you're engaged in this kind of diplomacy, you have to try to see if you're going to get anywhere and find out if there's any "there" there. And you also don't want the risk of something leaking and blowing up what you're trying to achieve. Certainly, once we had the makings of a preliminary agreement with Iran, Congress was fully briefed and fully apprised of what was going on.
BLITZER: Tony Blinken, complicated story but very important. The historians will be looking back on that down the road, I'm sure.
Thanks very much for joining us.
BLINKEN: Thanks for having me here.
BLITZER: Coming up, Rudy Giuliani unleashed. Doubling down on his attacks against Stormy Daniels and the special counsel and revealing new information about Kim Jong-Un.
[13:50:06] BLITZER: The lightning rod of president's Trump legal team has struck again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESONAL ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: A group of 13 highly partisan Democrats that make up the Mueller team, excluding him, are trying very, very hard to frame him. They are can't emotionally come to grips that this whole Russian collusion didn't happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That's Rudy Giuliani's latest attack on the probe into Russia's probe meddling in the 2016 presidential elections. Giuliani's comments are causing a lot of concern among Republicans, especially a controversial comment about what happened after President Trump called off the summit with North Korea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: Well, Kim Jong-Un got back on his hands and knees and begged for it, which is exactly the position you want to put him in.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think if they said it about President Trump, it would be problematic. If Kim Jong-Un's lawyer, which I don't think he has one, because he probably doesn't need one. Somebody in North Korea said that, it would probably throw a wrench it in.
I like Rudy, but because you can talk about something, doesn't mean you have to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Senator Lindsey Graham.
Let's talk about this with my next guest, our political analysts, Ryan Lizza and April Ryan.
Ryan, what do you think about the comments about the North Korea leader?
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: America's mayor is talking too much. The meeting with President Trump and Kim Jong-Un has not happened as of yet and for him to say those kinds of things can started some rhetoric war on Twitter. Who knows? That's the dangerous point. You need to be quite until it happens and let it happen. The great thing about the potential meeting is that they are talking. They are talking. When you don't talk, there's possibilities that can lead to war. When you go out and say something like that against this volatile leader, Kim Jong-Un, you don't know what he will do. Right now, the meeting is set. We have a couple of days and you have to be careful. You can't do that. And Senator Lindsey Graham was right. We saw that a couple of weeks ago. That is dangerous.
BLITZER: Those words. Giuliani was not necessarily a national security adviser to the president. He's his private lawyer.
"Kim Jong-Un got back on his hands and knees and begged for it, which is the position you want to put him in."
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's the thing that is surprising. We thought he was hired for this discrete job of negotiating with Robert Mueller and being his lawyer on this one issue and all of a sudden inserting he must into the most delicate complicated foreign policy issue that one can imagine. Right? And it is difficult enough for our allies and adversaries to understand the American political system and who speaks on foreign policy for this administration. And to have the president's lawyer out there making a statement like this is really, really unusual. I mean, I think Giuliani doesn't seem to be restrained in anyway. It doesn't seem like the president asked him to shut his mouth on these issues.
RYAN: No boundaries.
BLITZER: He told Dana Bash in a telephone conversation that he hasn't heard from the White House and no complaints about what he said. He will continue - he is in Israel speaking about this stuff.
RYAN: You know, I would not be surprised if someone would call him and reign him in. I heard about the White House trying to reign him in before and had expletive conversations and hang up the phone. Rudy Giuliani is unchecked and no filter. That is dangerous for the president and for this nation. He's got to stop talking. Words matter.
LIZZA: On that other comment, that does not sound like a person who is having productive conversations with the special counsel.
BLITZER: The fact he is accusing the Mueller team of, quote, "trying very, very hard to frame the president of the United States."
LIZZA: Does that sound like someone who is about to let the president sit down and negotiating? It seems like weeks ago when they brought Giuliani on, they decided that the entire conversation and political debate is about impeachment and there's never go going to be an indictment and pave the way for a political argument and making sure that Congress never sees this as impeachable.
BLITZER: Before I let you go, what Rudy Giuliani said about Stormy Daniels?
RYAN: I think it is terrible. If what we know Stormy Daniels is a porn star. We don't know if she was a prostitute. You never know what someone would have to do to make a living. I think it is terrible. And once again, someone linked to the president who is saying something negative about a woman. No matter what her situation is, she is viewed in some senses as the victim and they are beating her up. She can fight back, she is good at that. It doesn't bode well. But she is a woman who is trying to clear her name and for him to say that, it is wrong. Absolutely wrong. Rudy Giuliani crossed the line.
[13:55:40] BLITZER: Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniel's lawyer, was on with Anderson Cooper and said Rudy Giuliani is a pig.
All right, guys, stick around.
Other news we're following. President Trump apparently reluctant to attend the G-7 summit in Canada, openly venting to staffers about world leaders and key U.S. allies. He's expected to speak any moment now. The visiting prime minister, Shinzo Abe, and he will have a joint news conference. The Rose Garden over at the White House filling up. Live coverage when we come back.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer, in Washington. Wherever you are watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us.
We begin with breaking news. We're standing by from a joint news conference from President Bush (sic) and the visiting Japanese prime minster, Shinzo Abe. You are looking at it live from the Rose Garden at the White House. We'll have live coverage of that momentarily.
The meeting comes five days before the summit between President Trump and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un.
Let's go the White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, there in the Rose Garden.
Jeff, the president said he's already prepared for the summit next tuesday in Singapore and doesn't need more preparation. What else can we expect to hear from the president.
[13:59:30] JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, good afternoon. That was an interesting statement that the president made in the Oval Office a short time ago when he was sitting down with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He was asked, how is he preparing for the summit happening in just five days in Singapore next week, and he said, look, I don't need much preparation, we have all been preparing for a long time. Both sides have. He said it is up to attitudes of both sides more than preparation.
There's no question, Wolf, behind the scenes, there's considerable preparation going on here. The stakes are so high for this meeting. But it is the first time an American president is sitting down with a North Korea leader. And it is going to be a lot more about body language, more about relationships. But the president said it's not a photo-op.