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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

White House: DOJ-House GOP Meeting Will Go On As Planned Tomorrow, Bipartisan Meeting Slated for After Memorial Day Recess; Lawyer To CNN: Jared Kushner Questioned by Special Counsel for Seven Hours about Russian Collusion, Foreign Contacts, Comey Firing; Man Hit by Lava Bomb in Hawaii; Trump Administration Wants More High-Level Talks, Assurances From Kim Jong-un Before Planned Summit Next Month. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 23, 2018 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:10] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

For days now, the president of the United States has been making unsupported claims about the possibility of a spy in his campaign. It's not hard to see why he was doing this. But tonight, there's even more evidence about his thinking.

"The Associated Press" has new reporting. They write, quote: Trump told one ally this week that he wanted to brand the informant a spy, believing the more nefarious term would resonate more in the media and with the public.

Well, today, if anything, the volume rose and so did the president early this morning, tweeting at 6:54 a.m.: Look how things have turned around on the criminal deep state. They go after phony collusion with Russia, a made-up scam, and they end up getting caught in a major spy scandal, the likes of which this country may never have seen before. What goes around comes around.

One tweet many claim, and taking them in order, the president says there's a deep state and it's criminal. He says any notion that the campaign worked with the Russians is phony, even though that's precisely what the Russia special counsel is still trying to determine.

And finally, the president says that having perpetrated such a scam, the criminal deep state is now caught in a major spy scandal. Not long after saying all of that, the president was asked to back just a portion of it up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: What proof do you have that the campaign was spied on?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All you have to do is look at the basics and you'll see. It looks like a very serious event. But we'll find out. When they look at the documents, I think people are going to see a lot of bad things happen. I hope it's not so, because, if it has, there's never been anything like it in the history of our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Now, keeping 'em honest, did you hear any evidence from the president of the United States there? No? OK.

So, how about here? Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Who's orchestrating this spying? Who do you think was responsible for it?

TRUMP: Well, I don't want to get into it yet, but I will tell you that after we look at --

REPORTER: President Obama?

TRUMP: After we look at the proof -- would he know? I would certainly hope not. But I think it's going to be pretty obvious after a while.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So, strike two. No evidence actually offered. Just a serious of escalating insinuations that the FBI sending a confidential source to talk to three Trump campaign figures, two of whom with pre- existing Russia connections somehow amounts to a deep state attempt to plant a spy or spies in his campaign and to do so to take him down.

And again, the president is not alone in making these claims or calling it spying. He's called on his usual cast of cable TV anchors, lawmakers, and White House employees to help amplify the claim. And before you watch this, we should note, as we did just last night, just because they say it does not make it so.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Major developments again tonight on the deep state, spying on the Trump campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Possibly paid informants to spy on the Trump campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It may indicate that the Obama administration did, in fact, spy on the Trump campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The spying they did on the Trump campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm shocked to hear that they put a spy in the campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spy inside the Trump campaign back to the FBI.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: FBI spies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or maybe two spies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks as if there could have been a second spy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These spy revelations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spies in this campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That there was a spy inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To spy on the Republican candidate for president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there's a spy, they got nothing from it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they ran a spy ring, that is an absolute red line.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Spygate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spygate. If, in fact, this occurred, could be one of the biggest scandals in history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And keeping 'em honest, that is the sound of a red herring taken to sea. Hogan Gidley, the last person you heard from there, raises a good point. If, in fact, this occurred.

Isn't it funny of the three campaign figures this confidential source reached out to, the campaign itself said that two were peripheral at best, coffee boys, they often called two of them. Funny, too, that as far as we know, this FBI source did not seek access to any inside campaign documents, nor did a word of it come out during the campaign. Voters never knew there was an investigation going on at all.

However, in the subsequent months, one Trump campaign figure after another would be revealed to have had -- to have lied about or concealed prior contact with Russians. The president's national security adviser would be forced out and leader pled guilty to lying about contact with Russians.

Again, the bottom line is this, saying you were spied on by the deep state, even saying it over and over does not make it so.

Today, the president said he was doing the country a favor by calling attention to this made-up problem and firing FBI Director James Comey. Today, Comey fired back, tweeting: Facts matter. The FBI's use of confidential human sources, the actual term, is tightly regulated and essential to protecting the country. Attacks on the FBI and lying about its work will do lasting damage to our country. How will Republicans explain this to their grandchildren?

And tomorrow, we'll see some of the fruits of this campaign to rebrand the Russia probe and in effect turn the tables on the investigators themselves. House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes and Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy will meet with senior Justice Department, FBI, and senior intelligence officials about the lawmaker's document request related to this confidential intelligence source who the president, without evidence, is calling a spy.

[20:05:01] No Democrats, of course, were invited. We're just learning through -- a bipartisan meeting will take place, though. When, you might ask? That would be after Memorial Day, presumably giving everyone time to keep the noise machine cranking for as long as possible.

President Trump also tweeted today about former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, citing a Fox News. Quote, @fox&friends, new bombshell in the Obama spying scandal. Did others spy on Trump campaign? Even Clapper, world's dumbest former intelligence head, who has the problem of lying a lot, used the word spy when describing illegal activities.

The president there suggesting that Director Clapper somehow let the truth slip out and he talked about it more with White House reporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I hope it's not so, because if it is, there's never been anything like it in the history of our country. I hope -- I mean, if you look at Clapper, he sort of admitted that they had spies in the campaign yesterday, inadvertently. But I hope it's not true, but it looks like it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So, keeping them honest, here is what Director Clapper really said speaking on "The View".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": So, I ask you, was the FBI spying on Trump's campaign?

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: No, I -- no, they were not. They were spying on -- a term I don't particularly like -- but on what the Russians were doing. Trying to understand, were the Russians infiltrating, trying to gain access, trying to gain leverage and influence, which is what they do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: More now with James Clapper, whose new book is titled "Fact and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence."

Director Clapper, you just heard what the president said about your comments. I wonder, do you think, to quote the president, that you sort of admitted that they had spies in the campaign?

CLAPPER: No, in fact, just the opposite. I was trying to delineate, I think I said it, a spy, particularly in this context, is a term that I don't like and it really doesn't apply.

And again, the focus here was not to spy on a campaign, per se, but rather were the Russians trying to penetrate to gain influence to seek leverage? And that was the purpose of engaging this informant, which is a very light touch and a very benign thing to do.

COOPER: So just -- you said you don't like the term "spying." is that just in relation to what's happening in this case? Or is that sort of a term you don't like more broadly? And I'm wondering what the difference between a spy and a confidential informant is?

CLAPPER: To be honest, I've never particularly liked the use of the term. It just has a connotation that I don't like, particularly. I never liked being called the head spy or that sort of thing. But that's just, you know, a personal proclivity, I guess.

COOPER: What -- I mean, what do you think the difference is from what the president is saying has happened, which is a spy who infiltrated the campaign, in other tweets, he's suggested perhaps it was to benefit the other candidate, the Clinton campaign, or the Obama administration. What's the difference between that and what you believe this confidential informant was doing?

CLAPPER: Well, a spy in the traditional sense, I'll go ahead and use the term, is one who misrepresents his identity, and is in a position where he attempted to recruit someone. To divulge classified information and, you know, this is -- none of the tradecraft characteristics of a classical spy, again, to use a term I don't particularly care for.

COOPER: What do you think the president is trying to accomplish by using the term "spy" over and over and over again?

CLAPPER: Well, I think it's a part of the larger narrative here. This gets back to, you know, the deep state business and there's a deep state that is bent on undermining him or turning -- even turning him out of office. And he's being victimized, and I think, ultimately, the objective here, conventional wisdom, is to undermine the investigation led by former Director Mueller.

COOPER: The president also tweeted about you this morning. In part, he wrote, even Clapper, world's dumbest former intelligence head who has the problem of lying a lot used the word spy when describing the illegal activities.

I'm just wondering what, if any, response you would have to that?

CLAPPER: No, not really. I mean, it's -- certainly not the first such tweet that has been directed at me. I think it's regrettable that the president chooses to reach out and malign private citizens, you know, exercise their First Amendment rights, and just because they don't agree with him. And this is more of that.

COOPER: What do you think it says about, I mean, the state of where we are as a country and frankly the office of the presidency that a sitting president of the United States personally attacking former cabinet official, you know, as it pertains to you personally, someone that's given more than five decades of service to this country?

[20:10:10] CLAPPER: Well, it's not -- it's not something I particularly appreciate. But that's, I think the country's gotten used to the fact that that's just the way he operates.

COOPER: In your book, you say it's critical for those working in the intelligence committee to remain loyal to the key tenants of intelligence work and serve truth to power, even if the power doesn't listen to the truth. Are you concerned about the community's ability to do that, given the circumstances?

CLAPPER: I do worry about it, and I would also say that this place is an additional burden on the senior leaders in the intelligence community. My successor, Dan Coats, now Gina Haspel as director of CIA, and other senior leaders, and Director Wray of the FBI, it falls on them to provide the top cover, so those great men and women across the intelligence community and the FBI can continue to do the important and sometimes dangerous work they do to keep this nation safe and secure.

COOPER: Director Clapper, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

2CLAPPER: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Let's get more perspective now from our panel.

CNN Political Analysts, Carl Bernstein and Julie Hirschfield Davis. She's also White House correspondent for "The New York Times." With us as well is CNN Law Enforcement Analyst and former FBI Supervisory Special Agent, Josh Campbell.

Carl, you heard Director Clapper saying the "A.P." now reporting that the president is intentionally using the term "spy" to kind of create this nefarious narrative of what he claims is going on. It sounds basically just like a classic misinformation campaign.

Do you think the president is -- I mean, is this just par for the course? Is this just the normal stuff? Or is this an escalation?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, it's a continuation that the president has used the term spygate, to obviously invoke the ghosts of Watergate here. And what he is doing is creating a fictional narrative to escape the rule of law and legitimate investigation himself, a legitimate investigation that has been authorized by his own Justice Department, that his former campaign associate, Christie, yesterday, praised Mueller, the director of that investigation, special counsel.

And he's using this as a means of covering up whatever is at the bottom of this investigation and what the special counsel is trying to get at.

COOPER: Point-blank, that's what it's about, covering up?

BERNSTEIN: Of course it is. And it doesn't mean that the cover-up is necessarily about criminal activities by the president of the United States, though it might be. But what it means is that he is effectively and very effectively, because he's succeeding at this, burying the truth. The American system worked during Watergate. It worked because the

press, the politicians, the people were interested in the truth and the rule of law, the supremacy of the administration of justice in a fair manner in this country. We're not seeing this here.

We're seeing the president being enabled by the Republican Party in Washington, which is not putting the truth or the common national interest above partisan interests, but rather is trying to bury this investigation. The president is engaged in a cover-up to bury legitimate investigation. And he's being enabled by those in the Republican Party with great success.

COOPER: Julie, I mean, the bipartisan Gang of Eight, the members of Congress cleared for access to the highest levels of intelligence, the fact that they won't be briefed on this information until after Memorial Day, that obviously gives the president's supporters, Devin Nunes, Trey Gowdy in this case, time to -- I mean, basically, you know, give their own narrative or even weaponized this information to serve their narrative.

JULIE HIRSCHFIELD DAVIS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, absolutely. And this is the sort of thing that in the past, even as Congress has become a lot more partisan in the last several years, the intelligence committee generally has remained pretty bipartisan. And on high-level, national security matters, you do see them having bipartisan briefings. So, it's fairly striking that this is not going to be that, particularly since the whole pretext for this briefing is ostensibly to determine whether there was political motivation for the special counsel investigation.

And in fact, the only people being briefed are Republicans and people from the administration.

So, it is something that, you know, they have agreed, I guess, ultimately to brief both parties. But it's clear that the goal of this briefing is not just to glean information, but to give Republicans a chance to figure out how to use that information, or if it's possible to use that information, to sort of further the narrative that Carl was just talking about, and the narrative that the president is pushing without any substantiation at this point.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, Josh, is there any good explanation or -- I mean, reasonable explanation, why both parties shouldn't see this information at the same time?

[20:15:00] JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, there is no good reason. And if you look at what the intelligence community has historically done with respect to their oversight committees, it has been bipartisan. As Julie mentioned, you know, this is -- this is what we expect of this relationship between those entrusted with our nation's secrets and, you know, engaged in some of the most sensitive operations that our government undertakes, and those who are responsible for overseeing them.

So, I think what we see is this continuation of politics. And it's been a narrative. And you have people that are enabling the White House to peddle these conspiracy theories.

And one thing really interesting, Anderson, is I listened to the intro, where you played the different clips of people, with their sound bites and they have their talking points as far as the conspiracy, it made me think about Carl Bernstein's book on Nixon and Watergate, and there's a fascinating part at the very end where he talks about Ron Ziegler, who was the press secretary at the time, who was leading the effort to, you know, campaign against the press and destroy enemies.

But at the end, when he was asked if he would apologize to "The Washington Post," he said he would. And there's a very telling line that said, we all have our jobs to do. And those people that are here today that are helping and enabling the president to peddle conspiracy theories and maybe doing their job, but history is not going to look kindly upon anyone who worked to destroy our national institutions.

COOPER: I want to get more on that from Carl. We'll continue the conversation after a quick break.

Also, a top Republican has just weighed in on all of this. His message to the president may surprise you.

Later, you'll hear from a man who survived a close encounter with something that we didn't even know existed a few days ago, a lava bomb. We'll talk to him, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:20:02] COOPER: We're talking about a concerted effort by President Trump and others that maybe George Orwell would recognize. He's amping up for what all intents and purposes is a deception campaign, branding a confidential FBI source who reportedly contacted three figures in this campaign to assess any Russian efforts regarding the election as a deep state spy, directed at the campaign.

"The Associated Press" reporting that he'd chose "spy" deliberately because it suggested something nefarious was going on. In fact, there's no evidence there was or that this asset was anything other than the kind of individual used all the time in counterintelligence investigations.

Late today in "The Situation Room," outgoing Senator Jeff Flake was asked what he was thought about these attacks by the president and tomorrow's meeting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Well, I think that that is completely unfair and it's not good to sully our institutions like that without proof. And having a briefing that includes only Republicans is no way to have transparency. If you're going to have transparency, then involve both parties. So, I hope that the president reconsiders if there's a meeting or a briefing just with Republicans in there, it will do nothing to shed any light, if light needs to be shed on this topic. But I've seen no evidence that there is spying on the Trump campaign.

It's just simply the FBI following leads on, was Russia involved or not? And I think it was appropriate, from what I've seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Back now with the panel.

Carl, I mean, with all due respect to Senator Flake, he's leaving and he's been one of the few Republicans who have actually spoken out about this.

Josh Campbell, before the break, was talking about Ron Ziegler in the wake of Watergate. What do you see in terms of comparison?

BERNSTEIN: Watergate was about a criminal president of the United States and the triumph of the American system in holding that criminal president accountable in establishing that the president is not above the rule of law in the administration of justice. And in this instance, we are watching a president of the United States attempt to bury the rule of law and the proper administration of justice with the help and enabling of a political party, his political party.

Whereas in Watergate, what happened in this triumph of the system in which the press, the politicians, the people, the politicians of both parties came together and said, we cannot have a cover-up. We cannot have a president of the United States who lies and covers up.

And the heroes of Watergate were Republicans, because they said, the truth is more important than a political party or an ideology. This is not about the behavior of the Republican Party. It is about the behavior of the president of the United States and the people around him.

The amazing thing that we're seeing here is that Mueller, by every indication, by listening to the likes, in fact, of Chris Christie, praising Mueller and his independence and sense of fairness, if there is no "there" there, if this is about undermining the system of democratic elections in our country by a foreign power, if, indeed, there was no, quote, collusion, then let the investigation go forward and Mueller will say in his report, there was no collusion.

But we are not seeing that. We're seeing an attempt by the president to bury that investigation, to bury the investigators. The lies from President Trump are unlike anything we have ever seen from a modern president of the United States. And it goes on day after day.

This is not me sitting up here saying, it's my opinion the president lies. It's demonstrable. It's reportorial, it's demonstrated and cataloged.

COOPER: Yes, time after time after time.

BERNSTEIN: And but that -- what's so astonishing is that a party of the president would go along with these lies and not say, Mr. President, you can plead your case, but you cannot lie day after day to the American people and invent a false narrative that all of us understand is a false narrative and that's what's going on here.

COOPER: Julie, between now and whenever Mueller concludes his investigation, I mean, is it basically a waiting game for any mainstream Republicans who are left, trying to dodge the sideshows coming out of the Oval Office and Chairman Nunes' office?

DAVIS: Well, I think so. I mean, listen, they are -- I mean, I think there are those on Capitol Hill, Republicans, who have decided that they are siding squarely with the president, no matter what happens on this. And we've seen that in the last several months.

There are also those who, I think, are trying to sort of stay out of it and stay on the sidelines. And this is an election year and they don't want to find themselves on the wrong side of this. And while politics should not have a place in a debate like this, this is a serious issue of whether a foreign power tried to intervene in our election and whether a presidential campaign may have worked with them, there is some politics here in the way that, you know, I think Republicans have approached this. They don't want to alienate constituents and say things about the president that they are not sure are the case.

[20:25:04] And I think they are waiting to see what Mueller finds. And for that matter, Democrats are waiting to see what Mueller finds and whether they are going to try to press forward with really escalating this in the wake of whether it's a report or indictment or whatever it might be that Mueller comes out with. I mean, I do think we're going to find out a lot more in the next couple of months about where this goes next, obviously.

COOPER: Yes.

Josh, I mean, you've recently left the FBI, you worked with Director Comey. Do you -- I mean, what do you think is happening behind the scenes at the FBI, for instance, right now? I mean, are they running around trying to reassure human intelligence sources and assets or -- what impact does this have?

CAMPBELL: I would expect not just in the FBI but the entire intelligence community, any agency who's responsible for running informants, for gathering information from human beings around the world is no doubt going to find this more challenging.

And I have to say, this use of the word "spy," and we talked about that earlier with Director Clapper, as far as this sort of sinister, conjuring up these motives which may, you know, lead to some ill intent, obviously, it's part of a campaign. They're trying to denigrate, destroy these institutions for short-term political gain and that's one way to do it.

When, in fact, a spy is a confidential human informant in this case, someone who is willingly providing information to the government in order to protect the nation and mitigate a counterintelligence threat. So, the challenges will continue.

Again, this will cascade far beyond the present time. I know that they're in survival mode. They're trying to do whatever they can to, you know, bulldoze these norms in order to stay in power and keep their jobs, as we've said, but the lasting damage is going to be so, so, you know, terrible, I think, for our institutions of justice.

COOPER: I want to thank everybody.

Coming up, we have more breaking news. President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner is questioned a second time by Robert Mueller's investigators. We learned that a meeting that went on for seven hours. Gloria Borger is going to join us with details.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:30:19] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news tonight. Jared Kushner's attorney, Abbe Lowell, tells CNN his client had a second interview with Robert Mueller's team last month, an interview that lasted seven hours.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABBE LOWELL, JARED KUSHNER'S ATTORNEY: Back in the fall, they were interested in understanding some of the issues about General Flynn and he answered all of their questions then.

And in April, we basically followed their lead and the topics were -- what were the appropriate topics. You know that they're being thorough and looking at the campaign. And by campaign, the issue that they're investigating is whether there was something called collusion, whatever that means to people. They're looking to see whether there was some undue influence put on by outside countries, particularly Russia. And they've been looking at some of the post-inauguration issues, primarily the firing of James Comey.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Joining me now is CNN's Gloria Borger with more on that and about Jared Kushner.

So, Gloria, you hear Abbe Lowell described to Wolf what Jared Kushner was asked about. How significant is a second interview with the special counsel's team, especially one that lasted seven hours?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. I think it's very significant. You know, his first interview, when he did it back in November, was just about General Flynn. And that was about 90 minutes to two hours. And so now we have this long, seven-hour interview. Because, don't forget, Jared Kushner is kind of at the nexus of everything that Mueller is investigating. You know, during the campaign, Jared had a very large role. He dealt with Cambridge Analytica, which is also being investigated. His contacts with the Russians doing the campaign are important to Mueller.

Jared was the one who said, I'm going to be the back channel to Russia and had all of those meetings with Russians. Some of which he did not report on his SF-86 form, if you'll recall. And he was also in New Jersey the weekend the President decided, infamously now, to fire James Comey. And Jared allies say, look, he had nothing to do with it, he just approved of it, but lots of other people have told us that, in fact, he drove the decision.

COOPER: The news that Kushner's full security clearance has been reinstated, I'm wondering if that tells us anything about the Mueller investigation or if they're not related at all?

BORGER: Well, Abbe Lowell is clearly trying to make the link, saying, look, they would haven't given him this security clearance if there were lots of red flags that were being raised by the intelligence community, but the truth is, we really don't know. We don't know if Mueller is communicating with the intelligence community about what he's looking into or not. I think it is logical, as Abbe Lowell says, to kind of assume that, you know, if there were these large red flags, that perhaps he wouldn't have gotten the clearance. But the truth of the matter is that we just don't know, because Mueller is keeping everything to himself.

COOPER: Gloria Borger. Gloria, thanks.

BORGER: Sure.

COOPER: Well, coming up, back to our breaking news from the top of the hour. The White House now says some Democrats will get a classified briefing on the Russia investigation. However, they're going to have to wait until several days after tomorrow's meeting with only Republicans. We'll also have a detailed look at one of those Republicans, California Congressman Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, a key ally of the President.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:36:57] COOPER: There's breaking news tonight from the White House, as we reported at the top of the program, some Democrats will, in fact, be invited for a classified briefing on the Russia investigation, but only after a previously planned session at the White House tomorrow, where only Republicans are being asked to attend.

One Democratic lawmaker, Congressman Joaquin Castro this afternoon told the House Intelligence Chairman Republican Devin Nunes that the Democrats wanted to attend tomorrow's meeting. Congressman Castro says, Nunes told him, "I'm not going to play that game."

I'll going to talk to him in a moment. But first, a look at one of the words that Nunes used today, games. Congressman Nunes knows them well. He's been playing them on behalf of this White House for some time, including this latest misinformation campaign. Here's Randi Kaye.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The House Intelligence Committee working to investigate alleged ties between Russia and Donald Trump's campaign started out as a bipartisan effort. Devin Nunes on one side and Adam Schiff on the other. REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The chairman and I are doing everything that we can to keep this investigation bipartisan and nonpartisan.

KAYE: But the notion the two sides could work together was torpedoed in March of 2017, when Nunes made his now-infamous so-called midnight run. That's when Nunes disappeared for a night, then turned up breathlessly to report he had just briefed the White House on some new information he had learned about surveillance during the campaign. But it turned out to be a scam. It was the White House who had actually given Nunes the information in the first place. The whole episode led Nunes to step aside from the intelligence committee's Russia investigation.

Since his midnight run, Nunes has earned a reputation as Trump's go-to in Congress, dutifully throwing up hurdles or distractions in the investigation into Russia's role in Trump's election.

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE CHAIR: The President needs to know that these intelligence reports are out there. And I have a duty to tell him that.

KAYE: He's also become a voice for the President.

NUNES: I always like to say, whatever the left accuses you of doing, they're doing themselves.

KAYE: In February this year, Nunes released a controversial memo alleging conspiracy against Trump involving surveillance under false pretenses.

NUNES: Political dirt was used by the FBI, and they knew it was political dirt, to open a counterintelligence investigation into the other campaign.

KAYE (on camera): That claim was never established. But Nunes has never been cut short by a lack of evidence. Long before he entered politics, when he was just 22 and a recent college graduate, he reportedly became convinced his school was secretly planning to close its campus farm. Farming was his family's business. Turns out, according to the "New York Times," the school was trying to sell one small farm in order to buy a larger one, but Nunes won the hearts of voters and he won a seat on the school's board of trustees.

NUNES: Let each candidate stand --

KAYE: Two years later, he ran for Congress and lost. Then in 2002, he ran again and won. And he's been serving ever since. The precise reason Congressman Nunes turned into such an operator for this White House remains unclear. But as the Mueller investigation reaches a crescendo, it's nearly certain, so, too, will the efforts of Devin Nunes.

[20:40:06] In his latest ploy, Nunes is now demanding he be given the documents related to the confidential FBI source who spoke with Trump campaign aides in 2016 about Russia's interference in the election. He's refusing to meet with the DOJ until he gets that information.

NUNES: If any of that is true, if they ran a spy ring or an informant ring and they were paying people within the Trump campaign, if any of that is true, that is an absolute red line.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Again, the breaking news, the White House has decided to invite Democrats to a classified meeting of the Russian investigation, but only after the Memorial Day recess.

I'm joined now by a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Democratic Congressman, Joaquin Castro of Texas.

So Congressman Castro, I mentioned in the intro to Randi's piece, your conversation with Devin Nunes. Can you just explain a little bit more what you said to him and what he said to you?

REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D), TEXAS: Yes, it was a very brief exchange, because he basically walked off. But this morning, I was presented with the fact that Sarah Sanders mentioned that Democrats had not asked to be part of the meeting.

So I said first that it's standard protocol wherever there's something revealed about the investigation that you would have Republicans and Democrats there, and also, I'm sure, that Adam Schiff, our Ranking Member, had already asked, which he has. But just to be clear, so that somebody asked face-to-face. I said that I would ask Devin Nunes today and I did that. When I asked him or told him that Democrats should be part of the meeting, he said that he wasn't going to play that game and then walked off.

COOPER: Do you know what he meant by "game"? I mean, what game is he talking about playing?

CASTRO: I don't know. I don't know if he thinks this is just politics back and forth or a media circus, I don't know. I can't answer that question for him. But remember, he's the person who right away did that midnight run and took all of this information to President Trump.

And Anderson, this whole thing has turned into a racket. It's basically, I believe, a way for the President to receive information about what the DOJ has, what the FBI has, to handicap his legal liability and figure out, for example, how much he's going to cooperate with Robert Mueller, whether hays going to go in front of Robert Mueller, you know, who on his team may have legal liability. And it keeps happening over and over.

COOPER: For people at home who may not follow the ins and outs of Washington meetings like this, I just don't understand the logic of the logic of why Democrats wouldn't be allowed into tomorrow's meeting, why it would only be Republicans? CASTRO: That's exactly right. And the findings of the investigation so far have fallen pretty much along partisan lines, unfortunately. But I didn't think that the meetings themselves and the flow of information would also become partisan. And I'm glad to hear tonight that eventually the gang of eight, which include our ranking member and Senator Warner in the Senate, will be part of the folks that receive information, but it shouldn't take a big blow-up like this for something that's supposed to be standard to occur.

COOPER: Well, I mean, I also don't understand. I mean, if the White House, you know, if this -- for those who don't know this, this is a meeting that Chief of Staff General Kelly is going to have, the head of the FBI, Chris Wray is going to be there, Coates and others from the DOJ, and Nunes and Trey Gowdy, but, I mean, if there's going to be a bipartisan meeting after the Memorial Day recess, I don't understand -- are you satisfied that -- I mean, I don't understand why they couldn't just have Democrats there tomorrow?

CASTRO: Well, I agree. I mean, basically, if you're going to have a meeting of the gang of eight after the Memorial Day weekend or after the recess, then what's tomorrow's meeting? Tomorrow's meeting seems to be a Trump legal defense team huddle, so they can figure out what's out there. And then assess it. I don't understand the need for two meetings.

COOPER: Which is -- I mean, it doesn't -- it's a pretty strong claim to make that the President is using this to basically benefit his legal defense or his legal strategy. I mean, that's basically saying, he's not operating with the best interests of the country at heart, but, you know, at his own -- to try to help his own legal position.

CASTRO: Oh, well, I think the facts have borne that out from that first midnight run. There's basically been information that's been shared and President Trump, I think, is using people in the legislative branch, including Devin Nunes, to do his dirty work.

COOPER: Congressman Castro, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

CASTRO: Thank you.

COOPER: Stay tuned at the top of the hour when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi takes questions in a CNN town hall hosted by Chris Cuomo.

Also just ahead for us, some incredible pictures and incredible danger in Hawaii. I'll speak with a man who's lucky to be alive tonight after being hit directly by a lava bomb. His story, next.

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[20:49:02] COOPER: There's no end in sight for the ordeal that's been going for three weeks straight in Hawaii after the eruption of the Kilauea volcano. Fissures have cracked the earth, lava is gashing, explosions are sending ash, thousands are feed into the air. And then there are the lava bombs. One such projectile about the size of a small bowling ball or a soccer ball hit Darryl Clinton as he was trying to protect homes from catching fire. The lava bomb that hit him snapped bones in his leg, he's lucky to be alive. Darryl Clinton is in the hospital now. I spoke to him by phone.

COOPER: Let me ask you, because I mean you've been watching over these homes for days --

DARRYL CLINTON, HIT BY LAVA BOMB (via telephone): Yes.

COOPER: -- you were used to these lava bombs coming in. I mean, our reporter was there, you know, and heard them coming in.

CLINTON: Yes, Scott was there, yes.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, did you -- the lava bomb that hit you, did you see it coming?

CLINTON: No. It was really peculiar. Typically, they shoot out of these vents. They make a hideous noise and then an explosion occurs. And then they fly out of these vents, almost straight vertical into the sky. And then they arc downward and where they land depends on the trajectory, they're shut out of in --

[20:50:16] COOPER: So you can kind of follow the trajectory and you have a little bit of time normally?

CLINTON: Yes. Well, this one, I was actually in the house and the bombs had waned to a point where they are almost nonexistent at this point on Saturday morning. I got a phone call and so I wasn't being as attentive as I should have been. And I was walking out of the house and on to the lanai, or deck. And about maybe the second time I went to the lanai, I was looking at the phone. And I looked down and it was in a millisecond, I saw the channel of soccer ball size lava bomb hit my leg.

COOPER: Did you know that it was one of the lava bombs right away? I mean, you actually saw it?

CLINTON: I saw it. And it hit and it set me on fire and it basically snapped my leg in half, right above the ankle. So my foot and my ankle were hanging by basically the back of my flesh, maybe my Achilles was still there. All the other stuff was severed. I had to hold my shoe. I hit the ground to escape the fire. I had to hold my shoe up and my leg up vertical and just keep my bottom part of my leg attached to the top.

COOPER: I mean this is a dumb question but in that moment, oftentimes, some people talk about adrenaline and they almost don't feel what's happening. I mean, did you -- were you in agony right away?

CLINTON: Yes. I was in horrible pain. And it looked so hideous. It was the worst thing I've ever seen happen to me in my life.

COOPER: And so you got loaded into a car. I mean, how are you doing now? What are the doctors telling you? CLINTON: Well, the first night, they cleaned out as much rock as they could. And they brought me in the second night, took more rocks out. I thought at the very minimum I would have lost a foot. I thought I was going to do die. But I didn't think I'd even have a foot.

COOPER: Well, it's incredible. And I mean it's -- as you said, it's amazing you're alive and we're so glad. And I know all the people whose homes you were looking after are really grateful for what you did and I appreciate talking to you, Darryl, thank you.

CLINTON: Yes, thanks Anderson. It's awesome you called me. Thank you.

COOPER: All right, we wish you the best.

CLINTON: Thanks.

COOPER: Just incredible.

Coming up, breaking news about the planned upcoming summit between the President Trump and Kim Jong-un, we're learning that the Trump administration wants a few things to happen before that meeting. Details next.

Plus, the name calling is back, what a North Korea official has just said about Vice President Mike Pence.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:56:27] COOPER: More breaking news tonight, a senior North Korea official has called Vice President Mike Pence, a "political dummy" in press statement at the state media. The official apparently took issue with the statements that Pence made on Fox News, which the official called, "unbridled and impudent remarks that North Korea might end like Libya."

The official also said that North Korea won't beg the United States for dialogue and threaten, "We can also make the U.S. taste an appalling tragedy it has neither experienced nor imagined up until now."

Meanwhile, the Trump administration wants a few things to happen before the next month planned summit between the President and Kim Jong-un. According to a senior administration official that includes more high level talks and assurance from the North Korean dictator that he is committed to giving up 2his nuclear program.

Our Global Affairs Correspondent, Elise Labott joins us now with details. So the comments from a senior North Korean official about the Vice President, this is just another in a recent flurry that is coming out of North Korea lately?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And this all came from the comments made by John Bolton talking about the Libya model. Now John Bolton remembers that the Libya model of kind of nonproliferation and giving up weapons of mass destruction was very successful. But of course what North Korea took from it was that, you know, the Libyan leader after he gave up those weapons, Muammar Gaddafi, met his demise at the hands of U.S. and NATO officials.

And -- I mean, I what they're ignoring is that the President also said in recent days that they were talking about giving up weapons. But if Kim Jong-un doesn't come to an agreement, he could end up like Muammar Gaddafi. But clearly they don't want to go after the President, so.

COOPER: What are you learning about these additional high level talks that the U.S. wants before the summit? Because traditionally that's what happens before a summit, there's -- I mean, month, you know, weeks and months of talks, if not years?

LABOTT: Exactly. Well, White House officials will travel to Singapore this weekend. They're going to meet with the North Korean delegation, primarily about logistics. But official say on top of that, substantive discussions need to take place between North Korea's leadership and either Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has said he'd be willing to meet with them or other top U.S. officials.

Now, as you said, we end to forget these summits usually happen from the bottom up. Negotiators meet for months and then the leaders show up and shake hands and sign on the dotted line. And I think when Kim threatens to canceled to talks in recent weeks, the President realized they don't have great comfort, Anderson, about what his intentions are. The North Koreans have been focused on the date and the location but official said, they need more clarity on what Kim is willing to put on the table that, that will hold the key. If he is ready to denuclearize, it shouldn't be that difficult to agree on an agenda. If he hasn't, and he's going to play the same games the North Koreans have had in the pass of the summit could be a bust. So I think they want to know their odds before the President goes ahead, whether they have a chance at success.

COOPER: We're also -- as we talk about before, I mean, denuclearization means something different for North Korea than it may mean for the United States?

LABOTT: It does. I mean, they're looking at -- you know, they want -- eventually the North Koreans want the whole peninsula. And that includes South Korea. But the North Koreans handling over those detained Americans I think was a key. But now I think the U.S. is looking for concrete signs this is for real, a possible agreement and principle before the experts can visit all no nuclear and ballistic missile sites, allowing inspectors to witness the dismantlement of this nuclear test site, which they've promised to do in coming days in the presence of international reports, including CNN but not even the officials. So I think they want a sign from Kim that this is serious, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, Elise Labott, thanks very much. Obviously, there is a lot more to come on the North Korea story. We'll continue to follow it in the days ahead. That summit was set for and still is set for the June 12 or so.

But right now let's hand things over to Chris Cuomo, hosting the CNN Town Hall with Nancy Pelosi, Chris?