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Inspector General's Report Fallout; AG Sessions Using Bible Verse to Defend Policy Separating Immigrant Children From Their Parents; President Trump in Singapore. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired June 15, 2018 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RUDY GIULIANI, DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: Tomorrow, Mueller should be suspended and honest people should be brought in, impartial people to investigate these people like Strzok. Strzok should be in jail by the end of next week.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Peter Strzok is an FBI agent who is no longer part of the Mueller probe. The I.G. report which came out yesterday did not deal with the Mueller investigation. That was President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani, nevertheless using the report from the inspector general for political purposes, to suggest that somehow the Mueller investigation is impugned.
Let's discuss a little of the fallout. Joining me is two former FBI agents, two CNN law enforcement analysts; Josh Campbell is with us, also former FBI advisory special agent James Gagliano.
Gentlemen, thanks very much for being with us. Josh, I want to start with you. Let me just go over the key findings. No evidence that prosecutors or Comey were affected by political bias. Comey broke protocol by announcing Clinton was cleared, FBI agent texted he's stop Trump from becoming president. Comey used personal e-mail accounts for business purposes. No evidence Clinton and Lynch -- Loretta Lynch discussed probe on tarmac (ph).
That's a whole lot of headlines here, Josh. Can you describe -- this is a 500 year flood for the FBI.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN REPORTER: That's right and that's how it was described within the FBI. Those who lived through 2016 and 201, if you think about all the ingredients that came together during this period of time, you had a major party candidate for president that was under FBI investigation. And then another candidate would become indirectly under investigation.
You had the boss of the FBI, the attorney general, meeting privately on an airplane with the spouse of a subject of a criminal investigation. And as all of this is going on, you have these two employees exercises incredibly bad judgment, having this extramarital affair, exchange of these texts, which would then explode, as we know now and cause such great damage to the FBI. The organization at this point in time, it very much felt very much under assault.
BERMAN: It felt under assault. You described it as, you know, this complicated mess of things going on at once. But, Jim, this I.G. report really says, there was a lot going on, but James Comey, FBI director, handled it poorly.
JAMES GAGLIANO, FORMER FBI AGENT: Yes John, Let's stay with the 500 year flood metaphor. I don't disagree that James Comey was thrust into an untenable position. I just believe he was the least equipped lifeguard to be there when the rise waters began and the FBI did come assault. Now, how did they come under assault?
Well, I went through the 568 pages yesterday including appendices and I also - I also read ironically the contemporaneously releases op-ed that James Comey provided to the New York Times and then I listened to Director Wray's sober remarks about the FBI.
Where the blame should be pointed here, not at Comey for violating norms -- Justice Department norms because he elected to speak out. I felt that that was the right move to make. But he surrounded himself with callous and inexperienced people and let's go with Peter Strzok and Lisa Page to your point.
People that - people that say that folks like me that have criticized the investigation are tin foil hat crowd because we talk about secret societies and insurance policies. The e-mails and texts that were released yesterday were damning. Now, again, did Comey have anything to do with placing his finger on the scale? I don't believe that.
But I do believe that the Senate or the House Judiciary Committee need to bring in Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, put them under oath and ask them questions about some very damning rhetoric in e-mails that suggest that people were - whether or not it happened or not, people were actively working or seeking or looking to impact a lawful election.
CAMPBELL: Look -
BERMAN: Go ahead Josh.
CAMPBELL: Yes, no. I'll just add. First of all with respect to the point about the FBI director being surrounded by callous and inexperienced people, it's just not true. If you look at the people that were in his orbit, these career FBI agents and prosecutors who had worked these cases all over the country, indeed all over the world, it's just simply not true.
Obviously, I'm with you with respect to Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. I think that they caused grave damage to the organization. They exercised incredibly bad judgment but I think the main takeaway here and I'm not opposed to Congress looking into their actions in determining is there more there to be investigated. There should be transparency. But the main takeaway here and I think
we need to step back and focus on is that the allegations that have been made against the FBI - you mentioned this tin foil hat crowd, the like. There have been these - a lot of these negative things that have been thrown out but the main allegation was that the FBI was politically corrupt.
And those allegations were coming from the president himself, from his allies, from now republicans in Congress who have been making that claim -
CAMPBELL: -- and it simply is not born (ph) out buy the inspector general.
BERMAN: Hang on one second. To be clear, the report says they found no evidence in the conclusion that their conclusions were effected by a bias. But it does talk about bias that Peter Strzok might have had. This is a new statement from the president, the first time he has responded directly to the IG report.
It says FBI Agent Peter Strzok who headed the Clinton and Russian investigations texts to his lover Lisa Page in the IG report that will stop Candidate Trump from becoming president. Doesn't get any lower than that.
CAMPBELL: I agree with the president. That statement that he just made there was 100 percent true. For someone in the FBI to be exchanging these messages it's disgusting and again it's disgraceful but I'm waiting for the next message because if that somehow connects this Clinton IG investigation to Bob Mueller and Russia then I think we have a problem.
BERMAN: Jim, do you think there is no connection there?
GAGLIANO: No. I think we need to be careful, too. We've got the results of two IG reports. There's a third one coming and that may be another instance where we may be able to kind of glean what type, if any, of some of the junior level senior executives were influenced in any investigations.
Look, it's troubling. I agree with Josh. The 36,000 employees in the FBI are diligent, dutiful, patriot but we are right to criticize folks that were in positions of immense power. Yes, Peter Strzok couldn't alone impact an investigation but he made serious decisions and he influenced things. He had immense power as a deputy assistant director in Counterintelligence.
BERMAN: Does this -
GAGLIANO: I think he needs to be -
BERMAN: Does this impugn the Mueller investigation, Jim?
GAGLIANO: Absolutely not. We can walk and chew gum at the same time, John. I believe this is a separate apparatus here. I have great trust and confidence in Director Mueller. He is a patriot. He is a man that is prepared to come out and say there's not there (ph) or here's the findings that we found and I'm now prepared to put my name to this document that says the investigation is complete and here's what it says. I've got other trusting confidence that investigation should continue.
BERMAN: Because what we're hearing from republicans and I'll speak to Matt Gaetz who's going to say this in an hour from now is that this text from Peter Strzok came nine days after the Russia investigation began. He's saying we'll stop Trump after the Russia investigation began. Is that timing a bad fact?
CAMPBELL: Oh, yes. Well, it's a bad - obviously it's a bad fact if you look at the chronology here. One thing that I would point out and Jimmy's right that there's this additional report that's coming let's treat that differently than the way we treated this investigation.
When I say we, I mean the president - I mean the party that's in power because if you look back, this thing has been going on for some year or 18 months looking into this and people were making predictions about what this report would say baking in this narrative in the American psyche that the FBI was corrupt and what'd we find?
They weren't. There wasn't political implications here on their investigation. So we should let this I.G. investigation play out. Obviously the president's been throwing out these terms like Spygate and the like and we heard that connected yesterday and we heard that connected yesterday with some of the former Trump campaign people, trying to connect that to this report.
We should pump the breaks, let the I.G. do his work. Let's not bake some false narrative into the mind of our viewers. Let's see what the report say.
BERMAN: All right. Josh Campbell, James Gagliano, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it, guys.
GAGLIANO: Thanks, guys (ph).
BERMAN: We've been talking (ph) about this for some time. Alisyn.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, John. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is using a passage from the bible to defend the policy of separating immigrant children from their parents. There's a lot of reaction to this and we discuss it next.
CAMEROTA: Now to this story that so many people are talking about. Attorney General Jeff Sessions invoked the bible to defend the Trump administration practice of separating children from parents at the border.
JEFF SESSIONS, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: I would say due to the apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has obtained (ph) -- ordained the government for his purposes. Orderly and lawful and processes are good in themselves, consistent, fair application of law is in itself a good a moral thing, and it protects the weak. It protects the lawful.
CAMEROTA: Let's bring in CNN political analyst and author of "How's Your Faith," David Gregory. David, great to have you weigh in here. So when Jeff Sessions, our attorney general says to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes. In other words, the government is all powerful and beyond reproach? What are we to make of our attorney general saying this?
DAVID GREGORY, AUTHOR: Well, I think there's problems on a lot of levels with this. If he is talking about protection of the weak, I don't know how you defend a practice that separates parents and their children after they have made this perilous journey, illegal though it may be, trying to find a different life in the United States.
Secondly, I just think the bible is rich and fertile territory for those who want to use it for a broader argument. And if the attorney general wants to cite Romans, maybe he would also like to look at the Hebrew bible that cites dozens of times that you should love the stranger as yourself because we were once strangers in the land of Egypt.
So, it is so clear that the thrust of the bible the pope reminds us today, quoting Deuteronomy, protecting the stranger, not oppressing the stranger, loving them as ourselves. This I just think this is so unfortunate to try to inject this into the political domain particularly on this issue. To say nothing of the fact this particular bible verse has been used in the past as a way to defend government action used by southerners who wanted to defend slavery or used by loyalists who were trying to defend, you know, the crown against those pesky revolutionaries known as Americans.
BERMAN: In auspicious history -- in auspicious history for that particular bible passage that Jeff Sessions. He was really interesting, if you look at what the administration has done here. They blame Democrats for their own policy. And then when you have religious leaders calling it, they say no, no, no, the bible says this is OK. They tried to turn all these arguments on its head. David, you and I remember 18 years ago when George W. Bush would say that family values don't stop at the Rio Grande River. It is hard to justify this policy on family values.
GREGORY: Well, there's no question about it. The legacy of President Bush is varied as we know well. But this was an issue he got so well as a border state governor, somebody who understand what the immigration picture was all about. And as far as the Republican Party has come, I think it's instructed that what Sessions is implementing is policy. Certainly runs counter to what President Trump himself says he believes, although hard liners around him are supportive of this policy, like Stephen Miller who advises him on these issues in the White House. But whether there are evangelical Christians within the party, others who have spoken out, including --
CAMEROTA: Franklin graham.
GREGORY: Franklin Graham, yes. Hard liner on so many issues said this is an unconscionable policy. Its incredibly unpopular what the administration is doing. And we see this amid all of these other moves to try to move forward on a path for DACA, for the folks who come in illegally, children of illegal immigrants.
CAMEROTA: Let's just play Franklin Graham's sound here. Because obviously hes one of the best evangelical -- best know evangelical Christians in the world, son of Billy Graham. So I think that it is really instructive to look at him. Lets do that.
BILLY GRAHAM: First of all, I think its disgraceful and its terrible to see families ripped apart and I don't support that one bit. But the situations we have today are as a result of lawmakers in Washington over generations ignoring this. And I'm hopeful that something can be done to fix it.
CAMEROTA: Do you think having somebody with the reputation of Franklin Graham who supported President Trump; do you think that that politically is a problem for Jeff Sessions and the administration?
GREGORY: Yes, I do think it's a problem. I mean, I get uncomfortable cherry picking Franklin Graham becaue --
GREGORY: -- he said in other instances --
CAMEROTA: Yes, and by the way, I'm glad you said that. There's a lot of cherry picking happening here. When you're cherry picking from the bible, when you're cherry picking from Franklin Graham, there is a lot happening. So politically, what do you think --
GREGORY: But I think politically -- look, theres a lot of agreement across the religious spectrum as there is across the political spectrum, that we ought to treat families with compassion and with dignity at our border.
It is important to enforce the law. There is a law and order issue with illegal immigration. But you do have to understand why people are coming. And it's not so they can, you know, commit crimes. We have so much of our politics that's based out of making -- playing on people's fears of other people. In this case immigrants, illegal Immigrants. When there is such a
magnet in the United States for illegal immigrants to come here, to work and have a different life. And I really think there's broad consensus around -- across the spectrum to deal with them compassionately and to adjust out policies like this. So when you have a -- a hardline policy like this, you know, it may please certain elements of the president's political base of hardliners within the Republican party, but I don't think it -- it can hold.
Because it's -- it's not just Democrats but across the Republican party there's enough people who disagree with this and want a different path.
BERMAN: I mean, just own it. If you're going to make the policy, own it. You are making these decisions. Don't blame the bible. Don't blame Democrats --
BERMAN: -- say we are making this decision and we're standing by it. David Gregory, always great to have you with us. Thanks so much.
GREGORY: Thank you.
BERMAN: How's your faith? All right. We're learning behind the scenes details of how President Trump reportedly almost upended the Singapore summit the day before. We'll speak to the Washington Post reporter who broke this story, coming up.
BERMAN: All right so this is really interesting. A new report in the Washington Post describes an antsy president. Shortly after President Trump arrived in Singapore on Sunday, two people familiar with planning say that the president pushed aids to move his meeting with Kim Jong-un up a day saying quote, "We're here now, why can't we just do it?"
One of the reporters who broke this story, CNN Political Analyst White House Reporter Josh Dawsey with the Washington Post. Josh, this is fascinating. The president arrived in Singapore Sunday. He wasn't going to have the summit until Tuesday. He's like, look, this is BS. Let's just do it. What was going on?
JOSH DAWSEY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The president now (ph) governs on impulse as we know and goes on whims. And when he arrived in Singapore across the world he said why are we waiting a day, he's here, I'm here. Kim was out sightseeing across town. He was at the famous Infinity Pool on top of the hotel that we saw and the president was ready to go.
His aids had to remind him, listen there's a folks who are traveling from across the world. There's wall to wall television coverage planned. There are a lot of things you can't just move an international summit. The president really wanted to move it to the point where people were afraid he was going to go home.
Eventually they were able to calm him down by explaining that if he did this summit at the time he proposed in the afternoon on Monday instead of Monday night in Singapore time - United States time at least, it would have far fewer viewers. And, he should prep a little bit more before this.
But it was quite a harrowing 12 or so hours for the folks who work for him. At least according to our reporting for the story.
BERMAN: The impression that the president gave during his news conference after was that he negotiated the details that came out in that document that they signed there on the spot when he took the measure of the man Kim Jong-un. But in fact your reporting is that three of the four key points were all agreed to beforehand.
DAWSEY: Right. Yes, most of the document -- the agreement was actually written by his aids, agreed to by North Koreans long before the president arrived on the ground but before the president was in Singapore. Now, that's pretty traditional actually, John. I mean most of these summits are done the leg work, the human work so to speak is done by aids far in advance because there's just not that much time.
You have a few hours getting to know each other, there's not enough time to negotiate the details. But as you correctly pointed out the president in his comments at the end of the summit made it seem that they had made just a remarkable amount of progress in a few hours.
And the whole agreement had been hammered out and that it was a product of their, as he described it terrific relationship with the dictator Kim Jong-un. What actually happened was that a lot of the agreement had been done long before the summit began and both sides just signed it.
BERMAN: In fact, some of my reporting was that the administration was frustrated it couldn't get the North Koreans to budge in the hours before the president and Kim Jong-un had actually met because on those first three points they would have like to have gone even further. Obviously they couldn't.
Now this is one of the juiciest things that came out in your report that had to with the president's view of North Korean media. And in a sense longing I think for the - well lack of impartiality in the North Korean media. Let me read this quote from your piece.
"At one point after watching North Korean television which is entirely state run the president talked about how positive the female North Korean news anchor was toward Kim according to two people familiar with the remarks. He joked that even the administration friendly Fox News was not as lavish in its praise as the state TV anchor, one of the people added and maybe they should get a job - she should get a job on U.S. television instead." And he wants is he wants the North Korean media, clearly. Josh?
DAWSEY: Well, I think the president to some degree was joking - BERMAN: No, it feels like that. It does feel like that this - it feels like a joke.
DAWSEY: Yes, and you got to see the president actually has a pretty wry sense of humor that often doesn't translate in his public speeches. He can be somewhat witty and self depreciating however we to know that the president hates his television coverage, frequently finds little coverage or complains.
He's sitting there watching the trade mark North Korean anchor who's on to announce the missiles and she has so much verb and she's very excited and it seems like you could not ask for more positive coverage. And he's watching her and he goes Wow, he goes that women she really loves him.
We can't even get that on Fox. And the way this thing was described to me is people in the room laughed and thought it was funny but it also is a shocker reality for the president that he doesn't get the kind of coverage that Kim gets obviously because Kim's a dictator and the state run media doesn't have a choice on what they say.
BERMAN: Kim also gets bigger crowds. Let's just say it. All right, Josh Dawsey, great to have you here with us. Thanks so much for being here. Fascinating report. Thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, CNN Talk is next. For our U.S. viewers, New Day continues right now.