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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Wray: DOJ Finds Missteps, But Not Widespread Bias in Clinton Probe; FBI "Will Hold Employees Accountable" For Any Misconduct; Comey Doubles Down After DOJ Watchdog Report Slams Him for "Extraordinary and Insubordinate" Actions; White House Defends Trump Saluting North Korean General; Steve Scalise Returns to Field A Year After Being Shot. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired June 14, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, the DOJ's highly anticipated report taking on Jim Comey. Doesn't find widespread bias at the FBI, though, will Trump allies drop the deep state talk or not?
Plus, it's a country ruled like a cult. That's what President Trump once said about North Korea. So why is he now saluting a North Korean soldier and calling Kim Jong-un very smart?
And a political cartoonist fired by his paper after 25 years on the job. Was it because he was anti-Trump? That cartoonist is OUTFRONT.
And let's go OUTFRONT tonight.
And good evening to all, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT this evening, the breaking news.
FBI agents will be held accountable. That is what the FBI Director Christopher Wray said moments ago in response to a scathing report about the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's private e-mail use. Three FBI employees we did not know about until today, so three new names, people were called out in the report for sending political messages that raised concern about anti-Trump bias.
Again, this is three additional people on top of Lisa Page and Peter Strzok. However, the judgment on some FBI employees pales in comparison to the report's rebuke of the FBI director himself, James Comey. The report issued by the Department of Justice Inspector General says Comey's actions were, quote, extraordinary and insubordinate, saying that Comey, quote, intentionally planned to, quote, avoid supervision by department leadership over his actions.
Now, those are exactly the kind of words that President Trump has wanted to hear about his nemesis, Jim Comey, for more than two years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE United States: Comey is a liar and a leaker. I did you a great favor when I fired this guy. The FBI is a fantastic institution. But some of the people at the top were rotten apples. James Comey was one of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. There is a problem tonight, though for the president. Because yes, the report, the 500 pages, spells out mistakes Comey made and does so in tremendous detail. But this is the bottom line. After 18 months of investigation and 500 pages, quote, we found no evidence that the conclusions were affected by bias or other improper considerations.
So Trump's repeated charge that Comey helped Clinton, which he did on Twitter. Remember this tweet, wow, looks like James Comey exonerated Hillary Clinton long before the investigation was over and so much more, a rigged system. Well, the report says that was not the case.
Was there personal political bias by some agents involved in the investigation? Yes. The report says the agents who exchanged those highly critical text messages of Trump, quote, brought discredit to themselves.
But did that personal point of view impact their work? Was their work politicized? Did they violate, these people who worked for the FBI, lawyers and FBI agents, did they violate the trust of the American people in the FBI? No.
Quote, our review did not find evidence to connect the political views expressed in these messages to the specific investigative decisions that we reviewed. It's pretty clear but let's just put it in simple English. After a year and a half of investigating, there was no evidence that agents' personal political bias affected the Clinton investigation outcome.
But the facts did not get in the way of the White House spin today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president was briefed on the I.G. report earlier today. And it reaffirmed the president's suspicions about Comey's conduct and the political bias among some of the members of the FBI.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Not budging a millimeter. And by the way, Democrats aren't either. They're using the report to underline their point. Congressmen Jerry Nadler and Elijah Cummings issuing a joint statement, reading in dire terms, "The stark conclusion we draw after reviewing this report is that the FBI actions helped Donald Trump become president."
What a shocker, Democrats conclude Comey helped Trump, Trump concludes Comey helped Clinton. Absolutely nothing has changed. Except for the fact that the conclusion's out there and it is something all Americans should be glad to hear. Wrongdoing is being exposed. People are being called out. People are going to be held accountable if the FBI director keeps his words.
But the investigation to Clinton's e-mails itself was not impacted by personal bias, and that is important.
Laura Jarrett is OUTFRONT tonight at the Justice Department. And Laura, you know, the conclusion obviously is crucial. But the 500 pages, a major rebuke for Jim Comey.
LAURA JARRETTT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: That's certainly true, Erin. And the report is lengthy, is detailed, it's full of rich color, and already the White House as you pointed out is pointing to this report to say that its findings on Comey have been reaffirmed, its worst suspicions had come true.
[19:05:04] But the report is far more complicated on the ground, Erin.
JARRETT (voice-over): Tonight, a sweeping new report on the Clinton e-mail investigation. DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluding, quote, we found no evidence that the conclusions by the prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations. Rather, we determined that they were based on the prosecutor's assessments of the facts, the law, and past department practice. A direct contrast to a favorite talking point from President Trump.
TRUMP: It's a rigged, broken, corrupt system. It's rigged. It's broken. It's corrupt.
JARRETT (voice-over): Who has smeared the FBI's work at every opportunity.
TRUMP: We have to investigate Hillary Clinton, and we have to investigate the investigation. This was a disgrace.
JARRETT (voice-over): The report finds former FBI Director James Comey's actions were an extraordinary departure from Justice Department protocol. But it says he did so without political motivations. However, certain text messages between two FBI employees, Attorney Lisa Page and Special Agent Peter Strzok, were found to have cast a cloud over the FBI's work.
In one, Page wrote, Trump's not ever going to become president, right? To which Strzok replied, no, no he's not, we'll stop it.
The I.G. report concludes Strzok's decision to later prioritize the Russia investigation over the Clinton probe may not have been free from bias. An assertion his attorney fiercely denies. The sweeping 500-plus-page report lays bare the series of events that led to Comey's initial July 2016 recommendation that Clinton should not face charges. Condemning Comey for usurping the Attorney General Loretta Lynch's authority at the time, and affirmatively concealing his intentions.
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.
JARRETT (voice-over): It also faulted Lynch's error in judgment for a June 2016 tarmac meeting with President Bill Clinton. But concluded there was no evidence they engaged in any inappropriate discussion. Once investigators found Clinton-related e-mails on former Congressman Anthony Weiner's laptop, the Inspector General said senior FBI officials dragged their feet.
Yet Comey also broke protocol in October 2016 by disclosing to Congress the discovery of new e-mails just days before the election. The Inspector General calling it insubordinate and writing, "We found it extraordinary that in the advance of two such consequential decisions, the FBI director decided the best course of conduct was to not speak directly and substantively with the attorney general about how best to navigate those decisions."
JARRETT: Now, Erin, already various former officials had hit back on some of the findings in the report saying they have disagreed with them. But the current FBI director, Christopher Wray, said tonight he's going to get to the bottom of any misconduct and he pledges to hold the current employees accountable.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Laura.
And OUTFRONT tonight, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal who sits on the Judiciary Committee which of course oversees the Justice Department and the FBI. So this report today obviously is under your purview.
Senator, the Inspector General concludes in the 500 pages, Comey's actions were extraordinary and insubordinate, that he flouted the department's norms, but I guess, and this but is extremely important, Comey was not motivated by political bias. But still, he was insubordinate, he flouted norms, extraordinary activity. Are you satisfied with the report?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I'm very satisfied with the report so far as it goes right now. There need to be referrals to the Office of Professional Responsibility, which today the director of the FBI said he was going to do. And on Monday, we're going to have hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where hopefully we will elicit from the Inspector General who did this report even more findings.
But, important to keep in mind, as you did earlier, very correctly, that there is no evidence whatsoever that improper considerations, including political bias, had any effect on this investigation. And there is no reason, absolutely no excuse, for using this report to cast doubt on the special counsel investigation. And I hope my Republican colleagues will stand clear on that point. BURNETT: OK, so let me just be clear because when you're talking basically, you know, referring to department of personnel or the technical term you used. Director Wray says people are going to be held accountable, and of course we know about Lisa Page and Peter Strzok. Those names are out there but three new people are called out for personal messages that raised concerns of political bias in today's report.
[19:10:05] One of those three, you're talking about Bob Mueller, went on to serve on the FBI investigation into Russia and then served on the Special Counsel Bob Mueller's team. That person left the Mueller investigation, went back to the FBI in February of this year when Mueller found out about some of these messages. Does this cast a shadow on the Mueller investigation?
BLUMENTHAL: None at all, Erin. And here's the reason. First of all, the Special Counsel Bob Mueller has taken very definitive action to prevent any political bias from impacting his investigation. The finding here in this report after 18 months and a lot of fact finding is, that there was no political bias affecting either the Clinton investigation or any other part of this inquiry. So I think that the special counsel's investigation is independent.
BURNETT: So, when it comes to that individual, the other two new people that we are finding out about, and of course Peter Strzok himself who has been reassigned but not fired, I mean, should these people -- when Chris Wray says people are being held accountable, do these people all need to be fired?
BLUMENTHAL: Well, that is going to be the judgment made by the Office of Professional Responsibility. Two very important points. First of all, Strzok and Page, the two FBI agents who broke the rules, they should be held accountable. These text messages are absolutely abhorrent.
BLUMENTHAL: Also recommended, even more aggressive action in the Hillary Clinton investigation. They recommended search warrants and grand jury subpoenas. So the irony is, they were even more aggressive in going after Hillary Clinton than the investigation was.
And second, I think it's very important to follow the rules here in any disciplinary action against them.
BURNETT: OK, so look, I understand your point. There was bias and it's unacceptable and abhorrent. But you're saying it didn't affect the investigation. But we did, you know, get this new text message exchange, basically, between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. This is in august of 2016 and it's in the ig report.
Page texts Strzok, "Trump's not ever going to become president, right? Right?" Strzok, "No. No, he won't. We'll stop it."
Now -- I mean, here's the thing. It's not hard to take a leap, and today, if you read that as someone who looks at this that there was bias you say, OK, that's not just bias, that's clearly someone who's acting on it, no, we'll stop it. And the reports concluding they didn't, but does this raise questions in your mind that maybe they did?
BLUMENTHAL: It would raise questions in my mind very certainly, Erin. But the report I think is pretty definitive and conclusive, and persuasive on the point that it didn't affect their practical actions.
Now, should they be disciplined for creating the appearance of bias? Absolutely right. They violated the norms and rules and they should be held accountable. As should other agents who similarly might do the same because the FBI, as Christopher Wray said so well today, depends on not only the reality, but also the appearance of objectivity and independence.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Senator Blumenthal. Appreciate your time tonight.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, Comey firing back. Guns blazing tonight. The report saying that he used a personal e-mail account for government business. This is no joke. Comey was using a personal e-mail account after investigating Hillary Clinton for doing the same thing. That is in the category of things you simply cannot make up.
Plus, Trump saluting a North Korean general. This is common courtesy as the White House says? Or was that a major propaganda victory for Kim Jong-un?
And the man who created anti-Trump cartoons like this one, this is obviously a cartoon about what's going on at the border, fired after 25 years at the same major newspaper. Did he lose his job because he was too tough on Trump? That cartoonist is OUTFRONT tonight.
[19:17:52] BURNETT: Breaking news. Fired FBI Director James Comey firing back after the scathing report by the Inspector General on his actions in the Clinton e-mail probe. Including his unilateral decision to announce she would not face charges. Comey responding tonight doubling down. Saying, quote, an announcement at that point by the attorney general, especially one without the transparency our traditions permitted, would have done corrosive damage to public faith in the investigation and the institutions of justice. As painful as the whole experience has been, I still believe that, and nothing in the Inspector General's report makes me think we did the wrong thing.
And of course, you know, referring to the whole imbroglio with Loretta Lynch, and how she'd been on the tarmac on the plane with Bill Clinton, and then couldn't announce it, and then the whole dominos fall from there.
OUTFRONT now, former special assistant to former FBI Director Jim Comey, Josh Campbell, and Retired FBI Supervisory Agent James Gagliano. Josh, the Inspector General said it was extraordinary and insubordinate for Comey to conceal his intentions from his superiors, which the report concluded he did so purposefully. Today, though, Comey is out saying he did nothing wrong, he's been exonerated. Is he in denial?
JOSH CAMPBELL, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO FORMER FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY: That's a good question. I mean, if you look at the decisions that were made, I mean, that a lot of this is going to be in the eye of the beholder to look at what the Inspector General came up with, an independent agency that's charged with essentially serving the role as watchdog. And ensure the FBI comports itself.
You know, as I look at the report today, going through it, and, you know, the recommendations, and a lot of the allegations that were in there, I try to look at this through the lens of an investigator, as an FBI agent, and ask, you know, was there wrongdoing? And what was the motive? What was the intention?
Now, it appears that there --
BURNETT: Well, it all matters, yes.
CAMPBELL: It does matter. There appears there was wrongdoing, policies weren't followed, there was this, you know, this call of insubordination. But I think the major takeaway for me is looking at that motivation. The Inspector General found that there was no evidence of political corruption here, of political intent.
So obviously, you know, mistakes were made there, the decisions that, you know, didn't comport with policy, but it wasn't the criminal nature that we've been hearing from, you know, those down at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
BURNETT: Right. Not for political reason, certainly part of the conclusion. And of course insubordination, ironically, you know, insubordination to President Obama which if you're President Trump you should like. You know, just kind of pointing out the irony of that.
[19:20:04] CAMPBELL: That's right.
BURNETT: James, what's your takeaway?
JAMES GAGLIANO, RETIRED FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: So, Erin, I spent a good part of this afternoon grinding through as many of the 568 pages, which included the introduction and the appendices of the I.G. report. And then, interesting enough, 30 minutes after the report comes out, boom, we have James Comey delivers an op-ed to the New York Times, signed, sealed, and delivered, where he weighs in on the report's findings. I went through that.
And then I listened to Christopher Wray's sober and impressive press conference this afternoon where he talked about how the FBI's culture is going to change, how they're going to embrace the findings, and how they're going to try to get to the bottom, to Josh's point, figure out what went wrong and fix it. I listened to this report and to the press conference with a third ear. James Comey was basically convicted, if you will, in quotation marks, of violating norms. I give him the benefit of the doubt on that. I think Loretta Lynch put him in an untenable position, President Obama did the same. I think he was put into a bad position and he took what he thought was the least worst approach.
Where I pushback on him is he created a culture around him of young, callow, inexperienced agents that were making decisions on two giant cases that had huge consequences for the bureau and this country, and for that I fault him.
BURNETT: So James, the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders today, says the report actually confirms the president's suspicions about Comey's conduct, right. They're talking about political bias, and they're saying it's still there, which, you know -- I mean, they're actually saying it pretty smartly because the report does say there was political bias but the report concludes it did not impact the investigation, which of course team Trump leaves out completely of their commentary.
However, the president has frequently defended his decision to fire Comey, and here's why.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I love the FBI. The FBI loves me. But the top people in the FBI, headed by Comey, were crooked.
Comey is a liar and a leaker. I did you a great favor when I fired this guy.
The FBI is a fantastic institution. But some of the people at the top were rotten apples. James Comey was one of them. I've done a great service for this country by getting rid of him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And of course that's just the tip of the iceberg, guys. On Twitter, "Slippery James Comey, a man who always ends up batting out of whack, he is not smart." That's obviously not true. Anyway, will go down as the worst FBI director in history by far."
So, James, is that true? Worst FBI director in history?
GAGLIANO: Well, I wrote a piece a number of months ago where I ranked -- there have only been eight FBI directors in the 110-year history of the FBI. And I put James Comey just above William Sessions. And William Sessions left during the President Clinton administration because of ethics violations. My issues with James Comey are this --
BURNETT: So you say not the worst, the second worst?
GAGLIANO: I say he's the second-worst. Not because he's got poor character, not because he's a bad man, and I'm sure josh can weigh in and give us stories about James Comey doing good things. I served under him for two years. My issues with him are the fact that he let the inmates run the asylum. That he was a feckless leader and didn't push back on the president and the attorney general when they attempted to infect politics into investigations.
BURNETT: Josh, before we go, I have to have you weigh in on this. So the report says Jim Comey was using a personal e-mail account. Sure, unclassified conversations, but he's using a personal e-mail account. After he'd investigated Hillary Clinton for doing the same thing. I mean, how the heck did that happen?
CAMPBELL: Yes, there was a lot of wrongdoing in that report. I would put that in that category. I think that, you know, if I saw what former Secretary Clinton had tweeted today, I thought that was cute. It's reminiscence of kind of what they did with Secretary Powell as far as his AOL account.
I think there's a giant difference between using your e-mail account for, you know, speeches and using it to talk about drones and top- secret covered clearance information. So I don't want to re-litigate the past. But again, I would put Comey's use of a private e-mail account in the category of things of wrongdoing.
But -- and also one thing if I can also, you know, pushing back respectfully on what Jim was saying about the people that Comey surrounded himself with. I was a young person in that room but looking around the room, the table, the people with experience, there weren't a lot of spring chickens in there when you talk about the expertise that came from both the investigative field and the legal field that were in the room making decisions.
BURNETT: All right, thank you both.
And next, the White House defending Trump after new video shows him saluting a North Korean general. He'd been told not to do it by his own team.
And a reporter takes on Sarah Sanders over immigrants held by the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN KAREM, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, SENTINEL NEWSPAPERS: You're a parent. Don't you have any empathy for what these people are going through?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Brian Karem is OUTFRONT.
[19:28:18] BURNETT: Tonight the White House justifying President Trump's defense of Kim Jong-un. When asked about the dictator's -- well, the fact that he kills his own people, which is very well documented by the U.N., which says it has no comparison in modern human history. Trump seemingly shrugged it off. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, you call people sometimes killers. I mean, he is a killer. I mean, he's clearly executing people and --
TRUMP: Tough guy. So he's a very smart guy, he's a great negotiator. But I think we understand each other.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But he still has done some really bad things.
TRUMP: Yes. But so have a lot of people done some really bad things. I mean, I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Again, no comparison in modern human history. And Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked to defend those comments. She, of course, stood by her man.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: That's a factual statement. A lot of people have done some bad things. However, the president hasn't ignored the bad things that have been done by the North Korean regime. He brought it up at the summit. And again, the purpose of the summit was to focus on denuclearization.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And this whole imbroglio is coming as new video surfaces of the president saluting a North Korean general.
Michelle Kosinski is OUTFRONT.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The latest propaganda video on North Korean State T.V. is blasting out to its citizens --
KOSINSKI (voice-over): -- 42 minutes of Kim Jong-un welcomed and photographed in Singapore. Seemingly the center of attention and adoration. All set to soaring instrumentals.
Culminating in his big summit on the world stage with the American president.
[19:30:06] KOSINSKI: Telling North Koreans Trump expressed an exceptional respect and affection towards Kim, showing him his car.
Plus, this video the American side has not shown, Trump saluting a North Korean general.
JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY & DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: It was an inappropriate thing for him to do from a protocol perspective, but now, he's played right into the North's propaganda about their legitimacy on the world stage.
KOSINSKI: A U.S. official tells CNN the president had been briefed on protocol that you don't salute military officers from other countries and especially not state sponsors of terror like North Korea.
The White House though isn't treating this as any mistake, but part of the broader goal to show respect for Kim and his top brass.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It's a common courtesy when a military official from another government salutes that you returned them.
KOSINSKI: While Trump again publicly praises Kim Jong-un.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's a very smart guy, he's a great negotiator, but I think we understand each other.
REPORTER: But he's still done some really bad things.
TRUMP: Yes, but do have a lot of other people done some really bad things.
KOSINSKI: Drawing more criticism for Trump.
SEN. BOB CORKER (R-TN), FOREIGN RELATIONS CHAIRMAN: I don't share the president's feelings towards Kim Jong-un, and I would say most people here don't. I couldn't disagree more fully with his assessment of the leader of North Korea.
KOSINSKI: The North Koreans eating it all up, with Kim shoulder to shoulder with the leader of the free world and denuclearization presented as a joint goal of the entire Korean peninsula, still not clear what their demands of the U.S. will be.
But they are lauding what in their view Kim has won -- Trump's promise to stop joint military exercises with South Korea, guaranteeing Kim's security and at some point lifting sanctions, viewed as a step-by-step give-and-take process which is the opposite of what the U.S. has said it wants, all packaged here as a triumph.
And surreal retro dictatorial style that only the North Korean propaganda machines would do.
KOSINSKI: That music will burn its way into your brain if you let it. But if there has been this question of what exactly did President Trump tell Kim Jong-un about sanctions relief? For now, it's been the task of the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to explain the president's plan to Americans and the world and he insists the North Korea won't have any sanctions relief until it completely denuclearizes -- Erin. ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right. Thank you very much, Michelle.
And OUTFRONT now, Gordon Chang, author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World", and Sam Vinograd, former senior advisor to President Obama's National Security Council.
And, Gordon, I want to -- I want to get to the sanctions in just a second because you have a really important point to make there, but first I want to play that video again of Trump saluting the North Korean general. This happened, of course, we didn't see it, but North Korea released the video and then I would assume that we can all pretty much infer the reason why one side would want this video out and the other side would not.
GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN": Yes, well, certainly. You know, the idea behind this is that if we're nice to them, they'll be nice to us -- that doesn't work with Koreans and especially North Koreans. They'll view that as a sign of weakness which is the reason why it's in the propaganda video and they'll press the advantage.
You know, people say in business context because I was lawyer in Asia a long time back, you don't smile to the Koreans on the other side, even after you complete the deal. So that is I think really a mistaken view of the way the North Koreans view Trump in the United States and how to get a better deal.
BURNETT: So, all of these things of, you know, I trust you and your people love you and they're so smart and you're so funny and all of these things, that's perceived as --
CHANG: I think it's counterproductive.
BURNETT: -- as weakness as opposed to kindness or whatever, as Trump perceives it.
CHANG: Yes, it's counterproductive.
BURNETT: So, Sam, we've been told the president was briefed specifically though, you know. And you've been in these situations. So, you're saying if it were a French general or an ally, there are situations in which a president would do what President Trump did.
But this one, he was briefed to not do specifically.
SAM VINOGRAD, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: This was an obvious mistake. I can't think of a single protocol officer except maybe a Russian one, that would tell the president to salute a North Korean general. This North Korean general to get a ticket to Singapore probably had to be involved in some malign activity to get close to Kim, he'd probably had to do something related to WMD or cyber hacking. And so, why would anybody tell the president to show him a sign of respect?
BURNETT: Or obviously a crucial role in a nuclear program which they have said they are developing for -- to annihilate the United States. They said that's so many times before, Gordon. All right. So this issue of sanctions though, you're pointing out there is already sanctions relief.
CHANG: Yes, administration says, look, we're not going to put on new sanctions. President Trump said he had 300 sanctions he wanted to do. The point is the North Koreans, they shift front companies, they shift entities, individuals all the time to avoid our sanctions. So, if we don't put new sanctions, if we don't designate new entities, essentially, we're allowing the North Koreans to hollow out our sanctions and they're becoming ineffective.
[19:35:06] BURNETT: You do not have to do anything in order to provide sanctions relief. It's a really crucial point that I think a lot of people may not realize. You know, Sam, the president, you heard him say to Bret Baier, and he said, you know, well, a lot of other people do it.
Well, you know, if he doesn't care about what the U.N. says, which is no, there is no comparison in modern human history to what the North Korean government, the Kim regime is doing to its own people, you need only listen to Trump himself. This is seven months ago in Seoul.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: An estimated 100,000 North Koreans suffer in gulags, toiling in forced labor and enduring torture, starvation, rape and murder on a constant basis.
The horror of life in North Korea is so complete that citizens pay bribes to government officials to have themselves exported aboard as slaves. They would rather be slaves than live in North Korea.
North Korea is a country ruled as a cult.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And now, Kim is smart, funny, trustworthy, honorable and the president saying it again and again and again, and saying that all these things that he himself listed are -- hey, a lot of other people do them.
BURNETT: Which Trump are we supposed to believe? I mean, this is a fine, a speechwriter wrote that. But this is an absurd contradiction.
VINOGRAD: The president has selected memory though whenever he's trying to do a deal. He doesn't need any reminder of all the bad things that North Korea's done, he just has to listen to his speech.
But there's such a double standard here. He's willing to forget what Kim Jong-un did let's say seven months ago, his last missile test, or when he assassinated his brother-in-law. But when it comes to Iran, his team and the president himself bring up activities that happened decades ago about Iranian lies on their nuclear program or Iran's hyper hacking or human rights abuses. And double standards are not going to serve as well going forward.
BURNETT: And, Gordon, you know, the president tweeted in part yesterday, we are negotiating in good faith, both sides are. And then today, the Department of Homeland Security says, we've got a new threat from North Korean hackers, that they're trying to hack into American systems with attacks right now.
CHANG: Yes, and that mirrors a report from about seven, eight days ago about increased North Korean hacking. We've got to remember, February 2016, the North Koreans steal $81 million out of the Federal Reserve New York account. That is stunning.
I mean, it was Bangladesh's money, but it came out of our account. What it did was it tried to undermine the integrity -- the image of integrity of the U.S. financial system, because here you take the biggest bank heist in history, in all probability, and you do it right from the Fed.
BURNETT: That's incredible.
CHANG: It's incredible.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much.
And next, Pittsburgh's leading newspaper firing a longtime political cartoonist for anti-Trump cartoons like this? That cartoonist is OUTFRONT.
And Sarah Sanders asked today if, as a mother, she cares about immigrant children being separated from their mothers in detention centers. Was it a fair question? The reporter who asked is my guest.
[19:41:58] BURNETT: New questions tonight for the Trump administration about its policy of separating children from their parents after they enter the United States illegally. The policy sparking a very heated exchange in the White House press briefing this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN KAREM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Come on, Sarah, you're a parent. Don't you have any empathy for what these people are going through? They have less than you do.
SANDERS: Brian, gosh, settle down.
SANDERS: I'm trying to be serious but I'm not going to have you yell out of turn.
Jill, please go ahead.
(CROSSTALK) KAREM: But you're sitting there telling us it's a law. And they have -- these people have nothing. They come over here with nothing --
SANDERS: Hey, Brian, I know you want to get some more TV time, but that's not what this is about.
KAREM: It's not that. It's not about that. It's about you answering a question, Sarah.
SANDERS: I want to recognize you. Go ahead, Jill.
KAREM: Honestly, answer the question. It's a serious question. These people have nothing. They come to the border with nothing and you throw children in cages.
You're a parent. You're a parent of young children. Don't you have any empathy for what they go through?
SANDERS: Jill, go ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: The reporter you just saw there, Brian Karem, is OUTFRONT. He's the executive editor of Sentinel newspapers and a CNN contributor.
Brian, thanks for coming on.
KAREM: Thanks, Erin.
BURNETT: I mean, looking at your body language the way you were talking there, obviously, you made it personal, talking about Sanders being a mother to young children. But this was obviously passionate moment for you, an emotional moment for you. What made you get so personal about it?
KAREM: Well, two things really. I covered the border for five years and I've seen the conditions under which people live that forced them to flee and come to the United States and risk all and if you're going to risk everything, you know, the proper answer actually for her would have been you know, the -- what we're providing them in a Walmart is better than what they have in their home country and that would have been callous but true.
The second thing is she's brought her children and her personal life into that briefing room on numerous occasions and in fact as recently as last night when CBS was reporting that she may be leaving her post soon, said she was at a kindergarten meeting with her children. So, it's a very human question to ask. I mean, do you have empathy for what these people go through regardless of policy?
What I want to see -- what I want to add what I want to know is, where do you draw the line? And what -- to invoke the Bible, that was another thing that -- she invoked the bible as the law. I got a nice passage from the Bible, whatsoever you do to the least of my brother that you do unto me. But the simple fact of the matter is, a separation of church and state, it's rather abhorrent for me to hear someone use the Bible in that manner.
KAREM: And the fact of the matter is if you've ever seen anyone live in the conditions that force them to flee to come to the United States, you have to ask the question, it begs the question, and at some point in time, you just want to know why don't you spend the week down there and see what these people go through, to risk -- I'd risk it all.
BURNETT: So, Brian, you know, the reaction to your exchange was obviously everybody saw it. Walter Shaub, the former director of the Office of Government Ethics, he said, thank you, Brian Karem, heroic pushback, with many exclamation points. This is what you should look that in that room every day.
Fox News anchor Jesse Watters accused you of having an embarrassing meltdown.
[19:45:01] BURNETT: Now, you just made the case now, you said, look, she brings up her children frequently and she invokes them, so you're choosing to do so was not out of turn but consistent with choices she herself had made. It's an important point.
BURNETT: What do you say to those who say what you did was inappropriate?
KAREM: No, that's their opinion, not mine. I think it's -- I'll tell you what I was told the first day I walked into the White House press briefing room by Sam Donaldson and my favorite friend Helen. And Helen told me she says it's important to get the question asked and she told me there's no such thing as a bad question, only bad answers.
So, Helen Thomas said that, Sam Donaldson said that. I agree with that. In fact, this isn't King Donald Trump, it's President Donald Trump. He's responsible to us and it's a valid question, where are we morally as a country? Where are we? And I want to know.
As a voter, as a taxpayer, I want to know where the administration sits on this issue and they haven't answered it, and they put children in cages and that's quite frightening to me. It stands too many people is an antithesis to what this country stands for. So, it demands an answer.
BURNETT: All right. I thank you very much for your time, Brian.
KAREM: Thank you, Erin. Good to see you.
BURNETT: All right. You too. And next, the political cartoonist who drew these anti-Trump cartoons fired after a quarter century on the job at the paper. So, was it about Trump? He's my next guest.
And the congressional baseball game is happening right now. Last year, we all remember being there after the tragic shooting. Congressman Steve Scalise tonight back in the game at this moment, after almost losing his life in that shooting last year.
[19:50:031] BURNETT: Fired for being anti-Trump? Rob Rogers, the award-winning political cartoonist for the "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette" was fired today. He had been on the job for a quarter century.
Rogers says his editor turned down 19 of his political cartoon since March and none of his cartoons which usually ran five days a week have run since last month. And Rob Rogers is OUTFRONT with me tonight.
Rob, thanks for your time.
So, you know, I want to get straight to this. I mean, I -- you know it's a stunning day for you. I can't imagine how you work someplace for 25 years and this happened, so I know you haven't had a chance to probably fully process what happened to you today.
But, you know, some of the cartoons your publisher refused to print in recent weeks include one for Memorial Day, you showed President Trump laying a wreath on a tomb reading truth, honor and rule of law. And then another one, a child being pulled away from its parents by the president, as they obviously are trying to cross the border.
Why were these specific cartoons rejected? Did your editors give you reasons?
ROB ROGERS, FIRED TODAY FROM PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE AFTER 25-YEAR CAREER: No, they didn't give me any reason at all. So you'd have to ask them. But the common theme and all the ones that have been rejected is that that I'd say like 90 percent of them have something to do with Trump. So, there's a clear pattern that they were trying to sort of tamp down the voice that I was having about, you know, being critical of Trump.
BURNETT: Now, look, some people might say, OK, you're a political cartoonist. You're entitled to have one political point of view versus another, but I want to make the point here that your political critique, now Trump is president, so it's been focused there.
But you have not solely focused on Trump or Republicans in the past. You did with this one of President Obama and Obamacare saying, get ready for amazing affordable care, hold on, I'll get this. Obviously, it's a disaster around him.
And then Hillary Clinton, you did one called the Clinton bubble, where we see some of the controversies that plagued her campaign, Benghazi, Whitewater, all of those things and, you know, her obviously not giving a hoot. You are Pulitzer finalist in 1999 for your cartoons about President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.
So you didn't have problems with any of those, right?
ROGERS: No, no, not at all. I even drew -- one of the cartoons in that portfolio in 1999 showed Clinton from behind and he had no pants on. So, I think that, you know, I've been pretty even-handed in in terms of presidents.
Now, I will say that that it's clear that I've drawn more cartoons about Trump than Obama for instance, because I was more aligned with Obama's politics. But I -- but I've certainly hit both sides.
BURNETT: So, when your -- this is what your paper has said. They're saying, we don't provide details about employment matters, but in light of Mr. Rogers public comments today, we do want to acknowledge his long service to the newspaper in our community, any further discussions will be conducted with Mr. Rogers as a private matter.
I mean, so they gave -- what did they say to you today? You've worked there for 25 years. I understand over the past couple months with them with them not using any of the cartoons. No doubt you saw something like this coming.
But they just fire you and that's it, no reason given?
ROGERS: Well, I think that they tried like last week when everything sort of blew up, they tried to impose certain guidelines on my working conditions there which were actually even more sort of difficult to deal with, and then the current working status that I was under. So, I knew that that was going to be impossible and then -- and then they made me wait a week and a half, so like sweating it out, and then they said to me, OK, thank you. You know, leave your key card and we'll see you later.
So, no, there's really no reason given but I think that, you know, the events of the last week have been telling.
BURNETT: Well, it certainly -- it certainly appears pretty clear, right? They're not running anything that you had done on Trump.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much.
Of course in light of the president saying our country's biggest enemy is the fake news, stories like this one should be chilling to anyone regardless of your political persuasion. Thanks so much.
BURNETT: And next, one year after being critically wounded by a lone gunman, Congressman Steve Scalise tonight with an incredible moment returning to the field.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [19:58:53] BURNETT: It was one year ago today that a gunman opened fire on a group of Republican congressmen practicing for their annual charity baseball game against Democrats. Among the most seriously injured, the House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.
These are live pictures of tonight's congressional baseball game kicked off just a little bit ago, leading his team, the second baseman, Steve Scalise. His mere presence on the field truly is something of a miracle.
Scalise was standing by first base, when he was shot at that practice last year. He nearly died from a gunshot wound that shattered his pelvis, his hip, and his left leg.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA), HOUSE MAJORITY WHIP: It's getting better, but slow. You focus on getting better every day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Scalise crediting the heroic efforts of two U.S. Capitol police officers Crystal Griner and David Bailey for saving his life. Five people, including Griner and Bailey, were wounded before that the shooter was shot and killed. Tonight, the crowd cheering Scalise, his fellow players celebrating a wonderful moment for Congress and a huge, huge milestone for Scalise's road to recovery.
And thanks to all of you for joining us. We'll see you back here tomorrow night.
"AC360" starts now.