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FBI Agent Strzok & GOP Clash in Wild House Hearing; Trump Arriving at Windsor Castle to Meet Queen Elizabeth; Rod Rosenstein to Give Press Conference. Aired 11:30a-12n ET

Aired July 13, 2018 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:31:23] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: A show, a side show, a spectacle, a soap opera, a circus, there are plenty of names for it. Whatever you want to call FBI Agent Peter Strzok's 10-hour showdown with House Judiciary and House Oversight Committees Thursday, you cannot call it boring.

Like this moment with Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT, (R), TEXAS: I've talked to FBI agents around the country. You have embarrassed them. You've embarrassed yourself. And I can't help but wonder, when I see you looking there with a little smirk, how many times did you look so innocent into your wife's eye and lie to her about Lisa Page--

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Oh!

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Mr. Chairman, this is outrageous.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSWOMAN: Shame on you.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSWOMAN: Mr. Chairman, please.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Have you no --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Mr. Chairman, this is intolerable harassment of the witness.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSWOMAN: You need your medication. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Bananas. And that was just one moment.

You heard Congressman Gohmert -- you might not have for all the shouting -- but Congressman Gohmert also mentioned Lisa Page there. That is Strzok's former colleague at the bureau with whom he had an extramarital affair. Today, she is going to be on the Hill. She will face some of the very same lawmakers in the House committee behind closed doors for an interview. Page was the person that Strzok exchanged many of those anti-Trump text messages back in 2016 that have gotten so much attention, including from the inspector general of the department. Strzok said yesterday, again and again, that none of the personal opinions in the text messages had any impact on his work on either the Clinton e-mail investigation or the early part of the Russia investigation. So what did we learn yesterday?

Joining me now, Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin, of Maryland. He's one of the lawmakers asking questions yesterday at this hearing.

Congressman, thanks for coming in.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN, (D), MARYLAND: My pleasure.

BOLDUAN: So, Democratic congressman, one of your colleagues, David Cicilline, he called yesterday's hearing a colossal waste of time. And you called it during the hearing a kangaroo court yesterday. What do you call it today?

RASKIN: Well, it was a kangaroo court and it was a disgrace and embarrassment, certainly, to the Republican Party and, unfortunately, I think to the whole institution. Look, we didn't need to have that hearing because the inspector general of the Department of Justice has already determined that there was no bias of any kind, no partisan bias affecting the Hillary Clinton investigation. End of story. It is basically over. But in order to buy their whole paranoid conspiracy theory thesis, you would have to assume that all of these Republican prosecutors got together to try to help Hillary Clinton and hurt Donald Trump. You are talking about Republican prosecutors, Comey and Mueller and Rosenstein and Attorney General Sessions. These are all big-time Republicans. It just doesn't make any sense at all.

BOLDUAN: This gets to a bit of your line of questioning from yesterday. For our viewers, I want to play it for them. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RASKIN: In the spring of 2016, Senator Ted Cruz called Donald Trump a, quote, "sniffling coward, a pathological liar and a serial philanderer." Was this attack on Trump by Senator Ted Cruz a coordinated part of a deep-state conspiracy that you organized?

PETER STRZOK, FBI AGENT: No.

RASKIN: On April 8 -- August 8, 2018, Senator Marco Rubio said Donald Trump was, quote, "unworthy of being our president." Was this attack part of a deep-state conspiracy that you organized?

STRZOK: No.

RASKIN: In October of 2016, Speaker Paul Ryan said, "I am not going to defend Donald Trump, not now and not in the future." Was this fleeting outburst of moral courage part of a deep-state conspiracy that you organized?

[11:35:02] STRZOK: No.

RASKIN: Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Donald Trump a moron. Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said he's an "empty vessel" when it comes to the Constitution Steve Bannon said he is like an 11-year-old child. Were all of these negative characteristics of Donald Trump part of a deep-state GOP conspiracy engineered by you and your friends?

STRZOK: No.

RASKIN: Balance compels me to ask you about my hero, Bruce Springsteen. Unlike the others, who are all Republicans, Springsteen is a Democrat. And he said, "The republic is under siege by a moron." Did you tell him to say that?

STRZOK: No.

RASKIN: Was it part of a deep-state conspiracy to criticize the president?

STRZOK: No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: So it's clear the point you were trying to make, Congressman. But why were the past statements of Republicans against Trump important for you to highlight in the midst of this food fight playing out?

RASKIN: Thank you for asking the question. I was trying to point out the obvious, which is that the only thing that they've got on Strzok and his paramour is the fact that they called Donald Trump an idiot and a couple of other choice negative names in their texts to each other. That is it. The I.G. found that there was no bias in the process. The process -- in fact, what came out yesterday was they, of course, knew about the fact that there was and on ongoing investigation that had already started during the campaign about Russian influence with the Trump campaign, and they never leaked it. If they wanted to harm Donald Trump in any way, they would have leaked that, but they didn't. So all they have is a couple of late-night texts good boyfriend and girlfriend about how they thought Trump was an idiot. And I said, well if that's enough, then large numbers of people in the Republican Party are guilty of the deep-state conspiracy, too, because --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Right. But, Congressman --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: -- those large numbers of people weren't law enforcement involved in an investigation.

RASKIN: But that is precisely my point. There was an investigation into whether there was any official bias in the investigation and the inspector general said, no, there was none at all. They couldn't find any. So all they have is a private statement. And we have the same private statements on Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and half the Trump administration, which has called him a moron, a jerk, an idiot, et cetera. There's a Republican member of our committee yesterday who was participating who had called the president an A-hole himself. You may as well arraign him on charges of being part of this deep-state conspiracy against the president.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, I'm sorry. I'm just getting some direction in my ear. If you could stick with me, Congressman. I need to head back to London right now.

Let me see these pictures with you. We're looking at what looks like protests in London. But I think we are going to, yes, we're going to Windsor. This will be the arrival of President Trump to meet with the queen of England. We're looking at this arrival ceremony that is going to be playing out. I think we should stop and listen in for a second.

UNIDENTIFIED GUARD: Halt.

(INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED GUARD: Shoulder arms.

(INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED GUARD: To right.

UNIDENTIFIED GUARD: (INAUDIBLE)

BOLDUAN: We're watching the Guard of Honor greeting the president as he will be arriving at Windsor Castle. Quite a sight.

Let me bring in Max Foster right now. He'll be joining me to kind of talk about what we're looking at and what we're expecting here, Max.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the Guard of Honor. You have the Coldstream Guards there. They are preparing to meet President Trump. It's called a standard format really because this is where the queen is most of the time. She's here most weekends. But she also uses it for visits from foreign dignitaries. So you have the guards lined up there.

When the president arrives, you will note, partly because of the pictures, but you will also hear the band of the Coldstream Guards and the band of the Grenadier Guards playing out the national anthems, first the U.K. national anthem and then the U.S. one. And then the president will be entered into that courtyard you will see there.

This is the private quarters of the royal family. So the public don't get to see this normally. And you will see there the dais. The queen will invite him up to the dais and they will inspect the guard there. And then he will be invited in for tea. It will all be quite brief. But there's the pomp and ceremony there, Kate, that he hasn't seen on much of the rest of the trip and I'm sure he will enjoy.

[11:40:36] BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And just the view Windsor Castle is quite a sight in and of itself. And quite a focal point in recent months.

The queen, of course, Max, has received, I think, is the appropriate term, other U.S. presidents at Windsor Castle, Obama, Bush, Reagan before that. So this is a special moment and something that we've been told the president is very much looking forward to. That was definitely conveyed in that "Sun" newspaper interview, he was looking forward to that moment.

FOSTER: Well, I've traveled the world with the queen and she does have this effect on foreign leaders. I think partly because she is the longest-serving head of state in the world. But also she is in this position, isn't she, as a head of state, unlike the president who is out of politics, she is expected to remain out of politics as well. And she's done so impeccably over more than 60 years of reign. And she's part of history for so many heads of state around the world. So she has met 11 out of 12 heads of state during her reign. Donald Trump will be the 12th. There will be a photo, a fairly standard picture, but it goes down in Anglo-American history.

And you can probably hear behind me, I've got some demonstrators behind me, but also a wedding. So you have chanting at one end of the street and cheering at the other end of the street. Just in case you're confused, so the bride is coming out here in Windsor. A very special day for her.

President Trump turned up -- he'll be the guest of honor, of course, as he is at the castle behind me.

But just to point out to you, these ceremonial guards that you will see there are also engaged in missions. So the ones with the white plumes, the Grenadier Guards, are actually working -- or deployed under U.S. control in Iraq fighting the remnants of Daesh as we speak. So I think, speaking to lower military members today, they are keen for us to remind people around the world that these are serving members of the military. And crucially, a lot of lobbying is behind the scenes, asking me to remind Americans of the close military ties between the two countries. A huge amount of concern that that might be weakened because everything we in NATO, all the tensions we saw between President Trump and Theresa May, via the "Sun" newspaper today. So a big reminder that there's great unity between these two countries. The queen will rise above the politics and do what she can to enhance that special relationship which is so crucial to Brits and their security.

BOLDUAN: And, Max, there's no way of knowing, of course, but what is discussed during a tea with the queen? I venture to guess if the president goes to a place where he often goes, and he talks about his electoral win, what does the queen do?

FOSTER: Well, there's a lot of etiquette things to look out for today, Kate. I've been asked a bit about that. First of all, there's the greeting. Traditionally, the queen -- but she is up against another head of state, so it is flexible. The queen would speak first. She would put her hand out first. It would be a very brief hand shake. She would speak first. These are all the rules that people are used to engaging with. Foreign heads of state are told they can do what they wish, but they can bow if they like. President Obama did bow on one occasion. And he called her, Her Majesty. And after about the second references, ma'am, as in jam, I suppose. These things sort -- he would get the briefings if he wanted to have them. But he is not expected to go through with any of them.

When he gets in to tea, these can be fraught with etiquette nightmares for most members of British society, let alone Americans coming in who don't understand it either. But the queen always serves. That's the tradition, the host of the house always serves the tea. But there's various rules about how you hold the cup of tea. You often here about the little fingers being held up. That's because you have to hold the cup between your thumber and your finger. You can't slurp your tea. You can't dip your biscuits in the tea. I mean, it's a minefield. But, you know, she always tries to make her guests feel comfortable. So she won't pick up on any of those things. One of the great skills she has is not picking up on the awkward things guests do.

BOLDUAN: And, Max, how you describe it right there is anxiety inducing for even the most proper of proper people. And we're talking about the man who prides himself and is known for, if known for one thing, his unpredictability and breaking of norms at least in politics. He is also known to be a finicky eater. So I'm very, very curious if we could get behind closed doors on this one.

And it was just handed to me, Max, as we're watching this moment, what President Trump said to the "Sun" about the queen, and talk about a glowing review going in: "She is a tremendous woman. I really look forward to meeting her. I think she represents her country so well. If you think of it, for so many years, she has represented her country. She has really never made a mistake. You don't see, like, anything embarrassing. She is just an incredible woman. My wife is a tremendous fan of hers."

I found that fascinating.

[11:45:38] FOSTER: It is fascinating. And also Donald Trump also refers to how much his mother was into the queen. So she would make him watch the queen when she came up on television. And it is interesting that the prime minister, as a gift to the president, gave a map of the area in Scotland where his mother was from. So she's trying to emphasize those ties.

We also know that there was a big reference yesterday to another figure that President Trump is fascinated by, and that was Churchill. So at Blenheim Palace, which is where Churchill was born. But if you think about it, the queen is a direct reference to Churchill because her first prime minister was Winston Churchill when she was in her mid-20s. So that might come up as conversation. And he might be fascinated by all of the history that she represents, looking back at all the presidents she stood with over the decades. And also this direct channel to Winston Churchill, who initially wasn't a fan of the queen, felt she was a young, immature monarch, but became a great fan of her. So there's a lot for Donald Trump to talk about with the queen.

He might mention Meghan Markle as well, who, of course, was married here. He didn't say anything about that at the time, because Meghan Markle is not a fan of Donald Trump. She is on record for saying that, saying she would move to Canada if he was voted in, which, of course, she didn't. She moved to the U.K. instead. But in terms of etiquette, he would be expected to leave after the few minutes they have together. And he will be expected not to divulge any of the conversations. If there's one thing she will be offended about, is if he goes on to talk about what they discussed.

BOLDUAN: Well, stay close to the Twitter feed, I think is the best advice for everyone.

Max, we'll get back to you in a moment, as beautiful as those pictures are, because we have breaking news to get to.

I want to get over to Washington where Evan Perez is with something on a press conference we were waiting, Even with regard to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. What do you know?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate. We expect the deputy attorney general to be here in the conference room here at the Justice Department to give a press conference. He will answer some questions. They will not say what the subject of the press conference is. But just a few minutes ago, prosecutors from the special counsel's office, Robert Mueller's office as well as National Security Division from the Justice Department were at the federal magistrate's courtroom at the courthouse a few blocks away to return an indictment according to a notice that our lawyer, Laura Robinson, who is at the courthouse. She saw this notice that was posted there. So that is what we're expecting Rod Rosenstein will be talking about. Again, they have not said exactly what the nature of the press conference is, only that it is a law enforcement matter. However, Laura Robinson, our producer, who is at the courthouse, saw the prosecutors from the special counsel's office as well as the National Security Division there at the federal magistrate where they, according to a notice posted there, they are returning indictments. We haven't heard much from Rod Rosenstein at any public setting really very much. We know that just a few minutes ago --

BOLDUAN: Evan?

PEREZ: Yes, Kate?

BOLDUAN: Evan, I have to jump in. So sorry. We're bouncing between divergent topics. We'll come back as soon as we can to Evan Perez. We're standing by

for that conference where it's still a little unclear exactly what we'll be learning, but we'll be learning something important.

We go back now to United Kingdom where Queen Elizabeth is standing by for the arrival of President Trump.

Max Foster, Jeff Zeleny, White House correspondent, joining me as we listen in.

(MUSIC)

BOLDUAN: As we continue to watch these amazing pictures, Jeff Zeleny, White House correspondent, is joining me now.

Jeff, what do we know about the president's perspective heading into this meeting?

[11:50:04] JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, there's no question this is one of the marquee moments in the president's European trip here. Of course, he's spent the day with Prime Minister Theresa May. But make no mistake, Queen Elizabeth, of course, controls the military. She is the reigning figure here and steeped in so much history today, as you and Max were talking about. Met every president really for more than a half century, every U.S. president, except Lyndon Johnson. So President Trump we know going into this, he actually had kind words for the queen during that very controversial interview with the "Sun" newspaper that is on the streets here today. But he praised the queen, said she never has an embarrassing moment. You know, he praised her stature. So certainly he and Mrs. Trump are holding this out as a key part of the trip. And certainly, he appreciates at least this part of history and other history here. So this is one of those rites of passage for a queen to meet a new American president. This meeting was scheduled to happen last year. This trip has been canceled and rescheduled. So of course, this is a signature stop, much more for pomp and circumstance than anything else.

But as Max was saying before, these conversations held privately. A president never discloses what he discusses with the queen. We'll see if President Trump holds on to that.

But he does relish these moments of the office as well, Kate. So these pictures, of course, extraordinary, watching them here. This is the final stop here before the president and first lady, Melania Trump, head to Scotland for his weekend at his golf course -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right, Jeff.

Max Foster, I think, is back with us, too.

Max, do we know how long the tea with the queen lasts?

FOSTER: We're not at liberty to talk about timings because of security concerns.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Of course.

FOSTER: But it's not going to be a huge amount of time. You'll hear the U.S. national anthem. You'll see the president. Then you'll see them inspecting the guard there. That will be quite a brief moment. As you've just been hearing, Donald Trump does enjoy these moments. He can quite easily set the timings out. I think they'll go based on what he wants to do. So he'll be able to spend some time there.

It's a beautiful setting, as you can see. These guards have all come in from foreign deployments to be part of this. It's a big moment for them as well, a big showcase for them.

As we were hearing as well, the number of presidents she's met over the years is something worth of note. It's almost like something a foreign head of state wants to tick off when they come to the U.K., to meet the queen to have as part of the album. She's met 11 of the 12 heads of state in America during her reign. Harry Truman was one she also met, but she wasn't actually queen at that point. She was princess. So over the years, all the presidents going back to Winston Churchill's time, who was her first prime minister. So that will be part of the conversation.

You'll also hear various pieces of music that the guards have put together for this special occasion as well. Coldstream Guards represented there today. Very keen for me to mention how the queen gave them special permission to play the American national anthem just after 9/11 all those years ago. It was a big moment for them, a big moment for Americans living in the U.K. as well.

BOLDUAN: Max, this is not a state visit, albeit, with a lot of pomp and circumstance still. What is the difference?

FOSTER: Well, they come up with this term "working visit," which basically isn't a state visit. It's somewhere in between. It has taken a format over the decades. A state visit is the carriage, the cavalry, the banquet at Buckingham Palace. This is the format that's really formed into something that isn't that. It's a working visit. It's tea with the queen. It's working meetings with the prime minister in London and Chequers. So this is a sort of format that's developed over the years.

The protesters here are putting the message out -- and I had a bit of a to-do with them on my show yesterday, actually -- the state visit has been canceled here in the U.K. because the prime minister didn't want a state visit, the queen didn't want the state visit. But to say, very clearly, that's not the case. The offer of a state visit is there. The White House can choose whether or not they want to instigate that. They can come here at any point pretty much as long as there's the planning in place and the queen's available. The state visit is going to happen. Donald Trump's most welcome to come for that. But this is a working visit, something they could do in the meantime, really, because they wanted these two key allies to come together in the United Kingdom.

BOLDUAN: Do we know what's happening right there? Who's under the tent with the queen right now, Max? FOSTER: Well, these are the senior figures in the Coldstream Guards

and the Grenadier Guards. Also a couple of palace officials and a footman you can see there at the base of the steps. There's only going to be a footman in the room when it comes to the meeting and the tea with the president and the queen and the first lady. They've got a pretty interesting insight. Effectively, they're killing time, I have to say, waiting for the president. The queen is waiting, which you don't often see. I didn't want to point it out, but she's doing this because this is such a crucial visit. The prime minister and the government have made it very clear to the palace that this is a priority visit. So this is when the queen steps up, really, and will do whatever she can to make sure this works.

[11:55:20] BOLDUAN: Jeff, what -- I hope Jeff Zeleny is still with me.

Jeff, what are you hearing from your --

ZELENY: Yes, Kate.

BOLDUAN: -- from your end on the import for President Trump and meeting the queen and what this interaction means?

ZELENY: Well, Kate, of all the rites of passage an American president has as well, one is, indeed, meeting Queen Elizabeth. The thought that she's still in her reign after so many powerful years, her longevity certainly is something that President Trump was eager to meet with her. No question about it. This is something he and Melania Trump also have been studying. There are protocols. They will bring a gift and present that on the side of this. Of course, not in the moment there. This is something President Trump certainly likes, a ceremony. He loves a red-carpet moment. Something that distinguishes, you know, the U.S. president's job from many others in the world. This is one of those such moments.

Yes, a lot of attention here is focusing on his trip, that Helsinki summit with Vladimir Putin, very important. But this is important to him as well, largely because of these pictures and the song. And President Trump, we know, from seeing him in a variety of foreign capitals all over the world during his first year and a half in office, certainly loves this moment of the job. This is probably almost a year after he was in Paris for Bastille Day walking along the Champs-Elysees. And this is something akin to that. Boy, did he like that moment. So the president, certainly, after having essentially government meetings for the last several days, this is a social moment but also very important as well here having tea with the queen. But as Max said, they're not expected to linger very long at all. This is a quick meeting.

And one thing that will be different, of course, the last time an American president was here, Barack and Michelle Obama, we saw the queen and Prince Philip. He was driving them off in a Range Rover. It, of course, will not be like that because she is waiting for him there.

But this is an interesting historical moment. We do not know if he'll be the last American president to meet with her. We have no idea about that. But certainly, he is happy he is here and meeting with the Queen Elizabeth -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right. Jeff, stand by for me.

CNN's Kate Bennett is inside. I want to go in there right now.

Kate, what are you seeing?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER (via telephone): Well, I'm actually on top of Windsor Castle on one of the upper levels. They walked us up many, many steps here. Looking down over the quadrangle as the band plays and the queen watches from this tented area. She's there with the comptroller, Lieutenant Colonel Sir Andrew Ford. Obviously, we don't see Prince Philip. We don't expect him to attend.

At any moment, President Trump and first lady, Melania Trump, will drive through the castle gates into the quadrangle. They'll come around the corner and stop in front of the queen. Again, more pomp and circumstance.

But it's not a large crowd that's gathered. A bit of press, but certainly this moment feels very important. And here at Windsor Castle where the drive -- we drove here from the press conference. It took about 45 minutes. Of course, the president flew back via helicopter to London and then will fly via helicopter here again to Windsor. Certainly, right now, the queen is standing and just waiting for the Trumps to arrive. She's been doing so for the past several minutes. So we're all anticipating the big meet and greet with the queen of England.

It's questionable what -- how this is going to go. There's a certain amount of protocol, as Jeff was saying. Certainly waiting until the queen extends her hand before you shake her hand and those sorts of things. At any moment, they should drive through.

BOLDUAN: All right. We'll be watching it.

Our continuing coverage of President Trump at Windsor Castle, tea with the queen continues.

"INSIDE POLITICS" with Wolf Blitzer will start right now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thanks very much, Kate.

This is our special CNN coverage that we're following right now. I'm Wolf Blitzer, in Washington.

Take a look at this. We're showing you live pictures from Windsor Castle, where President Trump is set to meet with the queen of England and then have tea with Her Majesty.

Let's go to our CNN royal correspondent, Max Foster. He's in Windsor for us right now.

Looks like at least one vehicle is arriving there, Max. Set the scene for us.

[11:59:49] FOSTER: Yes, I think they're pretty much on time. I just had a note from the palace saying that this was the time they're due to arrive. That's good news. The queen wanted to come out early to greet the president. She will do so personally, as you can see. She's there in the quadrangle of Buckingham Palace -- Windsor Castle, rather. This is the private quarters of the castle where the public don't normally get even in to see. So the president will be welcomed. There's a Guard of Honor there. The --