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President Trump Tweets Explosive Threat To Iran; Page: FISA Warrant Claims "Ridiculous" And "Misleading"; Trump: "Very Happy" With North Korea's Effort To Give Up Nukes. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired July 23, 2018 - 11:00   ET

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


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[11:00:18]

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. President Trump unleashed once again, shouting in all caps at one foe, yet seeming to offer new cover to another foe.

First, let's talk about Iran. Just before midnight, President Trump fired off this threat to Iranian President Rouhani, "Never threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before. We are no longer a country that will stand for your demented words of violence and death. Be cautious."

Hours earlier, a much softer approach to Russia and its interference in the presidential election with this one, "So, President Obama knew about Russia before the election. Why didn't he do something about it? Why didn't he tell our campaign? Because it's all a big hoax." The president writes, "That's why. He thought Crooked Hillary was going to win."

That tweet, like so many in the past let's just say 48 hours, requires so many facts to be laid out and fact checking to be done. Before we get to that, the president in one tweet has erased all of the cleanup it appears that his entire White House spent all week trying to pull off. Remember this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Let me be totally clear in saying that -- I've said this many times, I accept our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place. Could be other people also. There's a lot of people out there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: There sure are a lot of people out there. Well now, no more. Much more on that in a moment. First let's get over to the White House about this new threat to Iran. Abby Phillip is there. She is joining me now. So, Abby, what is the White House saying about this? ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, it's been a roller coaster week for foreign policy in the White House. Now there's potentially another challenge that they are facing. The president seemingly threatening force against Iran if they do something that is unspecified in the president's tweet.

Now a lot of people are wondering why this tweet came when it did. Almost midnight on a Sunday night, seemingly out of nowhere. Here is what Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary said when asked about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, I think the president has at built, unlike a lot of those in the media, to actually focus on more than one issue at a time. Certainly, we know the media's obsessed with speaking about all Russia all the time. The president is focused on a lot of things that are taking place across the globe. Iran is one of them. It's been something we've talked about since we first came in --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: Now, the president could have also been responding to some comments from Iran's President Rouhani, who seemed to be baiting the White House by saying basically the war with Iran is the mother of all wars, peace would be the mother of all peace. But it's not clear.

The White House won't say exactly what it is that provoked the White House and where exactly President Trump is going with all of this. One other thing that Sarah Sanders did say, when it comes to the FISA warrant that you were just discussing, she added that the president wasn't actually questioning the intelligence community's assessment of Russian interference in the 2016 election again in his latest tweet.

She claimed that he was referring to collusion, not to meddling. It seems, though, that that's really kind of asking people to read something completely different from what the president actually wrote in that tweet -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes, yes, that's -- OK. Great to see you, Abby. Thanks so much. I really appreciate it.

Now let's turn to Russia. Today's dose of what's old is new again. The president -- everything that Abby laid out, let's continue. The president calling it all a big hoax. At this point, it goes without saying, especially after the repeated cleanup and clarifications from the president's own lips that Russia's interference was not a hoax.

Furthermore, we do know that the Trump campaign was warned in August of 2016 that Russia was likely trying to infiltrate or gather intelligence on his campaign. Why then the tweet? Who knows?

We do know, though, that it comes right after the FBI released highly classified documents at the center of the debate over the Russia investigation. The FISA warrant application first filed back in 2016 to conduct surveillance on Carter Page, an adviser to the Trump campaign. Carter Page has all along denied doing anything wrong. Page defended himself once again on CNN yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Were you ever an agent of a foreign power? Did you ever advise the kremlin or work with the kremlin on anything?

CARTER PAGE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: Look, Jake, no, I've never been an agent of the foreign power in any -- by any stretch of the imagination.

[11:05:11] TAPPER: But you did advise the Kremlin. I want to make it clear, you did advise the Kremlin in 2013 or 2012, somewhere in there.

PAGE: Jake, it's really spin. I sat in on some meetings. You know, to call me an adviser I think is way over the top.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: CNN's Kara Scannell is with me right now with much more on this. So, Kara, what is -- why is the public seeing these documents now? What do they say?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, Kate, the FBI released these documents after losing a lawsuit that was brought by media and advocacy groups. Like you said, these are highly classified documents. This is the first time the American public has ever seen what goes into one of these intelligence applications.

What we learned is that it's 400 pages long, heavily redacted. Right at the -- it's against Carter Page, the one-time foreign policy adviser. This warrant was granted in October of 2016 when he was no longer working with the Trump campaign.

But throughout the documents, what we have seen that is not redacted is that the government, the FBI, Justice Department are pretty explicit in saying on page 2 that Page is an agent of a foreign -- a foreign agent of the Russian government.

That's pretty explicit. It also goes on to say that they believe he was knowingly engaged in clandestine intelligence for or on behalf of Russia. So, it's a pretty explicit, of course, Page has denied this.

The Republicans are pretty explicit in saying that they believe that this application was built on false pretenses, on that Steele dossier. What we also know is that it was renewed three times by Justice Department officials, put in place by President Donald Trump -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: But renewing it three times in total four different judges, it's a key part in all of this in understanding it. Kara, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Joining me now to discuss this -- and there's a lot to talk about today -- Democratic Congressman Jerry Nadler. He is the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee. Congressman, thanks for coming in. Let's talk about Carter Page and the FISA warrant application. The release of the warrant application, it does offer in black and white more detail with a lot of redactions. Has it changed your view?

REP. JERRY NADLER (D), NEW YORK: No, no it has not changed my view. It has completely revealed that Nunes and the president and various other people on the Republican side were lying. They were lying when they said that the FISA judges were fooled because they were not told that part of the base of the application, the Steele dossier, was paid for by people hostile to the Trump campaign.

We know they were. There's a whole page in here saying that even though the Steele dossier was paid for by people hostile to the Trump campaign, by Hillary's campaign or people hired by Hillary's campaign, we assess it as valid, nonetheless, because we have other reasons to believe and 400 other pages to believe he's a foreign agent.

So, the court was not fooled. They were told. The whole basis of this -- remember, we know from the Russian -- from the indictments we have seen, from all sorts -- from DNI Coats saying lights are blinking red, we know the Russians attacked our election, they did what they could to help the Trump campaign, they're still attacking our elections now.

FISA applications are a weapon which our intelligence agencies can use to combat foreign intelligence operations. That was used. The Republicans, led by Nunes and some others on the Judiciary Committee, and the president have been trying to discredit the investigation by saying at its base was an application that was fraudulent.

We know from this, it was not fraudulent. It was well based and in any event, the base of the investigation is far broader than that.

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you this. Additional important facts we know, after the original warrant application was approved, it was renewed three different times, in all by four different, as we've learned, Republican-appointed judges. Still, two years on, Carter Page has not been charged with anything. What does that tell you?

NADLER: Doesn't tell you anything. He may be charged next week. He may not be charged. He may be less important than they thought or more important. We don't know. What this is, is an ongoing counterintelligence investigation. The warrant application was a warrant based on probable cause, not proof, that he was a foreign agent.

There's a lot of evidence he was a foreign agent. More to the point, whether he was a foreign agent or not is not the major issue before the country.

[11:10:06] The major issue before the country is that the Russians attacked our elections. They are still attacking our elections. They tried to help the Trump campaign. There's an investigation about this. The Republicans are trying to discredit the investigation by essentially bringing up side issues such as the validity of this warrant. BOLDUAN: Let's talk more about Russia and the substance -- I will call it the Helsinki fallout. The president seems to despite what Abby Phillip said that Sarah Sanders has laid out this morning, seems to be going back to where he began, Russia interference was a hoax or it's all a big hoax is how he put it in his tweet this morning.

I would say though a bigger problem as we sit here on Monday, a bigger question I have sitting here on Monday is it's still not known from the American side of what happened in the one on one meeting with the president and President Putin. How do you get to those answers without calling up the translator, which seems like that is never going to happen? How do you go about doing it?

NADLER: That's a big problem. It's unprecedented for an American president to meet with a foreign leader with no one else present in the room as far as I know.

BOLDUAN: The fact that Putin is talking to a lot of people.

NADLER: Not only is he talking about it, the Russians are saying that they are beginning to implement the agreements reached. What agreements? We ought to know about them. The president is not a dictator who can commit the country by himself and no one has a right to know what he did.

BOLDUAN: What does Congress do about it?

NADLER: Well, we have to complete the -- we have -- the most important thing is to safeguard the Mueller investigation, so we find out what was going on. We know definitively what happened about the Russians attacking our elections and attacking now.

The other thing that we have to do -- to me, the most important -- one of the most important things is that we are told our current election is under attack. We are told that the administration has given no instructions to our intelligence or police agencies to combat that.

They're doing nothing to protect our elections. There was an attempt by the republicans in Congress last week to zero out appropriations to help states make their election machinery more resistant to cyber tampering.

BOLDUAN: I have a couple of things I want to get to. There's a lot this morning. It's all coming from Twitter. The president tweeting about -- tweeting his threat to Iran overnight. It does what?

NADLER: Well, we don't know what prompted it. Blood curdling threats of war, which is what he is saying -- unless -- are generally not a good idea unless --

BOLDUAN: If it got North Korea to the table despite results of everyone is still waiting for results.

NADLER: We had -- Iran has behaved as an enemy in many ways without question. We had an agreement with Iran that would guarantee them from getting nuclear weapons for at least 15 years and put an American president after 15 years in a better position to stop them from getting nuclear weapons than an American president now.

The president after saying that that was a terrible agreement many times -- he never said why it was terrible -- got rid of the agreement. Now we are left with military threats only. We're back to where we were without the agreement. With North Korea, he is confident that there's no threat, et cetera. With no guarantees, no inspections, nothing, such as we have with Iran.

BOLDUAN: Very separate topic. When it comes to the government missing deadlines for reuniting children with their families who have been separated because of the president's zero tolerance policy at the border. Over the weekend, you said that if they miss the deadline, which is this week, the final deadline this week, a judge should start putting cabinet officials behind bars. Why are you saying that?

NADLER: Because I mean it. They separated -- they're in effect kidnapping children. They made no arrangements or plans to return the kids to their parents. They have no reason to do this. They said some were honest enough to say that they were terrorizing children as a deterrent to people abroad not to come here to apply for political asylum.

When you have a court order, it's not a suggestion. People should be held in contempt of court if they do not obey the court order. They're not doing very much to obey the court order. We were briefed.

BOLDUAN: What do you -- they will miss the deadline. Who do you want to see behind bars?

NADLER: If I were the judge, I would call the secretary of Homeland Security, the secretary of Health and Human Services and the head of ICE and put them in front of me. I would say, you will go to jail until the kids are reunited in civil contempt. It's the only way to get them to obey the law.

BOLDUAN: We will get the secretary's response. Let's see, they have until July 26, to get them all reunited. Let's see where it stands. Congressman, thanks for coming in as always. A lot to discuss today.

[11:15:04] Coming up for us, is the president losing patience now with North Korea? It's confusing. A U.S. official says yes, but why? As the North makes a big request.

Plus, right now, we're going to show you live pictures out of Branson, Missouri. What really happened in that Duck boat as the storm blew in? Divers right now they are working to pull this sunken Duck boat from the bottom of the lake, get it on shore. You can see it there right now. As families and loved ones are demanding answers of what really led to the deaths of 17 people. We will take you there live.

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BOLDUAN: Just a few days ago, President Trump said this about negotiations with North Korea, "No time limit, no speed limit. Essentially, be patient." Privately, maybe not so much. [11:20:09] CNN has learned that the president is privately frustrated with the pace of the North's efforts to denuclearize. But then, of course, there is this today, a tweet, "A rocket has not been launched by North Korea in nine months and all of Asia is happy."

Let's figure this out. CNN's Will Ripley is following the story from Hongkong. Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon with much more on this as well. Barbara, first to you. What are you hearing there, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Kate. What we do know is that U.S. military commanders have been watching all of this very closely. They have been cautioning, temper your expectations. Everything with North Korea takes longer than you think.

Kim Jong-un remains very unpredictable. Sources are telling CNN that the president expressed private frustration at the pace of the progress since the Singapore summit. But of course, once that came out, he went ahead and tweeted his reaction to that. Let's look at that tweet again.

The president giving his reasons for being optimistic, tweeting, "a rocket has not been launched by North Korea in nine months. Likewise, no nuclear tests. Japan is happy. All of Asia is happy. The fake news is saying without ever asking me always anonymous sources that I am angry because it's not going fast enough. Wrong. Very happy."

Here is the reality. There has been some video that we have all seen of some North Korean underground tunnels being blown up, but no verification by international monitors, no verification of any significant North Korean denuclearization activities, said the United Nations at the end of last week.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, North Korea has made a promise to essentially to denuclearize and that they need to live up to it -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right. Barbara, thank you so much. Will, over to you. What are you hearing from North Koreans?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they have said all along that this is not going to be a quick process where they're going to give up all of their nuclear weapons that they spent decades developing in a matter of months. Kim Jong-un built up his legitimacy as a ruler in large part because he assembled this nuclear force.

The North Koreans have always thought of this as a step by step incremental denuclearization progress where they give something, and the U.S. gives something in return. The U.S. has suspended joint military drills.

Obviously, the meeting between Trump and Kim really elevated Kim's image on a global stage. It allowed him to play to the tv cameras and not look like the madman, unstable person that he was being portrayed by the United States. The North Koreans also say that they have given a lot. They did blow up the test site at Punggye-ri. I was there. We had no experts there to verify what we were seeing. They haven't launched anything since November of last year.

In a matter of days, they are expected to hand over what they claim are the remains of dozens of U.S. service members who died in the Korean war. Now they want something from the U.S. One, they want economic concessions.

They want some of the sanctions lifted as they take steps towards denuclearization, but more importantly than that, above all else, they want security guarantees. They want guarantees that Kim Jong-un will stay in power for many decades to come.

To get that, a source telling me overnight, Kate, they want a peace treaty, a formal end of the Korean war, getting rid of the armistice that's been in place since 1953. The two Koreas still technically at war.

The United States technically at war with North Korea. The North Koreans say if they don't have a peace treaty, they don't have guarantees they won't be invaded by the United States and they will not give up nuclear weapons until they have those guarantees as well. This is going to be quite a long process indeed.

BOLDUAN: Quite a long process, even to get it started. You have -- the ball is in whose court in the realm of giving up some concession? That seems to be a question right now. If you listen from this side, you have Republicans who are saying, you need to get military drills started up to say we mean business. Stand by to stand by, Will. Great to see you.

Coming up, for the first time ever, we're seeing a highly classified document that shows why the FBI surveilled former Trump campaign adviser. What it says and why it's dividing Republicans next.

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[11:28:55]

BOLDUAN: It's likely the most loaded term in the partisan debate over the Russia investigation, the Steele dossier. It's one element of the highly classified documents released by the FBI laying out the warrant request for surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page.

It was just released this weekend. The president wasting no time to hammer the FBI over this, claiming the DOJ misled courts in the Russia investigation by using the controversial Steele dossier as a factor for the surveillance of Page. Senator Lindsey Graham seems to agree.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: In my view, the FISA warrant process needs to be looked at closely by Congress. The main reason they issued the warrant was the dossier prepared by Mr. Steele, the substance of the dossier to this day is a bunch of garbage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: But not everyone in the president's party is in lockstep here. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I don't think they did anything wrong. I think they went to the court. They got the judges to approve it. They laid out all the information. There was a lot of reasons unrelated to the dossier for why they wanted to look at Carter Page.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: All right. Joining me right now is Jonathan Winer, a former senior official at the State Department. He has known Christopher Steele for years. He was responsible for writing a two-page summary of the dossier's content, sharing it with the State Department. State Department officials including former --