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Now: DOJ Holds First Of Two Classified Briefings On FBI Source; Trump Cancels Kim Meeting, Blames Open Hostility; Trump Calls For Sweeping Changes To Us Immigration Legal Process. Aired 12:30-1p ET
Aired May 24, 2018 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:30:01] JOHN KING, INSIDE POLITICS HOST: -- was a Republicans only meeting, but top intelligence community Democrat Adam Schiff now attending, he's taking the Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's invite. And after bipartisan complaints, there's also a second briefing later today. The issue, what the President calls a spy scandal and what the former head of the FBI calls careful, normal, legal use of confidential sources.
CNN's Laura Jarrett, is at the Justice Department for us here in Washington. Laura, do we know exactly what information is going to be shared in this meeting right now?
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Hey there, John, this has really been the big question all week. As you saw some Republicans pre- viewing, almost, yesterday their disappointment that they won't actually obtain any documents on this confidential source. But I think it's worth reminding our viewers that we were here last week. The Justice Department invited Chairman Nunes over for a briefing. He did not respond to that inquiry.
This surround is of course all surrounds his subpoena for any and all documents surrounding this confidential FBI source that the Justice Department was worried it would risk the person's life, would worry a risk to, you know, foreign relationships. And so at this point it's worth wondering, what exactly has changed?
Obviously, the President's involvement has created an atmosphere of intrigue surrounding this entire event. He has now labeled it spygate, and we will see part two with another briefing on Capitol Hill at 2:00, John.
KING: And it will be fascinating to see what, if anything, the other lawmakers coming out of that meeting today and if they talk whether this say on everything else Russia and bipartisan agreement or disagreement.
With the facts, Laura, appreciate it. Get back and touch if we learn about the meeting. The President says these documents in question will show what he calls, quote, very bad things happening in his campaign. Including this, President says the FBI ordered a professor to surveil his campaign.
An appeared morning tweets, Trump again called the FBI source, quote, a spy. Never mind, the President has not supplied any facts to back up that claim, that the FBI source was a, quote, spy. But he and his defenders have supplied plenty of accusations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Spygate is very real. Jim Clapper, James Comey, you'll the entire cabal of the deep state. Never thought that Donald Trump is going to win. They took out a quote/unquote insurance policy to make sure he didn't win and now they're to just how they're going to stay out of jail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: All right. What says Bloomberg Sahil Kapur to the conversation. Great thing to come in on right there. Look, this is a controversial meeting, number one. The police don't call up the people they're investigating or the friends of the people they're investigating and say, come on in. We're going to share the evidenced so far and tell you how we're getting or even so far just doesn't happen.
So the President of the United States puts enough pressure on the Justice Department that they feel they need to do this is in of itself extraordinary. The Justice Department have blinked or read the law or something, and now instead of having the first meeting being Republicans only, you do have Democrats in the room which I assume, means -- what they say after has more credibility or are we coming into a partisan divide again?
SAHIL KAPUR, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, BLOOMBERG: It would have been more extraordinary if they had a briefing about this confidential informant without any Democrats present for that, and that's what created a lot of tension on Capitol Hill which is Democrats presenting (ph) if you do that. Even if you have a briefing after that, but if you talk about a confidential highly classified information outside this mechanism of a Gang of Eight which is the leaders of both parties and both chambers, the intel chairman and ranking members and both chambers, then it creates a precedent for weaponizing intelligence for political purpose and that's precisely what they try to avoid.
The inclusion of Adam, Schiff wards that off a little bit, of course, there's going to be a debate. They will probably have different versions of events. And Nunes and Schiff have been at each other's throats I think for a year now. I don't know if that's going to change, but we're going to see this narrative and this counter narrative continue to play out.
KING: And we may not know that full answer just yet, but some would say why is the President's chief of staff there? Why would somebody with daily routine access to the President beginning a briefing that he could then share with the President on how the FBI got some of the investigations, at least in the early stages of this counterintelligence investigation. Again, you don't tell Al Capone (ph) who the source is in the mob.
KAITLAIN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And the White House initially said no one from the White House was going to be at these meetings and then John Kelly is on the list. And as of late last night, White House officials said that they didn't if the list was right, if John Kelly wasn't going and then John Kelly just telling White House officials this morning, yes, I'm going and I'm going to both meetings. So you do see the disconnect there.
But we do know that the President himself got involved in inviting the Democrats because he wanted them there so they can accuse the White House of playing games here because he thinks this overall story is that there is this conspiracy working against him of these law enforcement officials who are out to get the President. But what we cannot miss in all of these, all of these details of the meetings is that on Sunday the President directed the Department of Justice to do something. The Department of Justice saying about his campaign that there were spies in it, and they said OK, and they're doing it. The Department of Justice is taking orders from the President here and that is stunning.
JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS; WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I mean, it is. I think what the President wanted is not what he's getting. He wanted a Special Council investigation, an independent investigation essentially of the investigation.
[12:35:02] And I think Rod Rosenstein at the Justice Department tried really hard to not have to do that and did not want to get into a confrontation with the President over that sort of unprecedented move. So they kicked it over to the inspector general.
But, Kaitlan is right, the fact that they are agreeing to share information about an ongoing investigation not just with members of Congress who have oversight over the investigations but with a representative of the White House when the White House has a integral part of what they are looking at or the President and his campaign aides are is actually extraordinary. And I do think that part of the decision to involve the Democrats was to guard against these accusations of, we are just making these all up. But I think there's also no question that the President's allies, his chief of staff, the President himself will hear what they want to hear in this briefing.
Democrats will take away what they take away and he's said this would be a partisan question no matter what happens.
KING: Which raises the question what do the leaders says. What are the alleged adults say in the sense that Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, this afternoon meeting right now. Are we talking about he's going to the early meeting because he has a scheduling conflict later.
I want you to listen here. Manu Raju, trying to put the question to the Speaker of the House, third in line to the President, the second highest -- third highest select after President and Vice President Republican in the land, supposed to be have a co-equal branch of government. Do you believe any of this?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER (voice-over): Is it appropriate for the President to float the notion that there may have been spies implanted in his campaign and this could be the biggest political scandal in history without having any evidence to support that notion?
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Look, we know Russia meddled in our election. We know that there was an effort to get to the bottom of that. And we're going to find out how all that took place. A lot of this is classified, so I'm just going to leave it at that. We're going to have more readings on just this today.
RAJU: Do you honestly believe that there were spies?
RYAN: I don't know the answer to that question.
KING: Do we get the answer when he does know the answer to that question or what he say all to that is classified, he just can't talk about it?
ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: I don't think we quite know yet what these guys are going to say when they come out of the meeting. But I do think that we're sort of completing two different things. The FBI does have a counterintelligence function by which they can look into whether or not there was Russian interference into President Trump's campaign. It's a separate thing for the FBI to investigate a presidential candidate.
And I thin that in our conversations, we're conflating the two. One of which would be entirely appropriate. The other which might not be appropriate.
KING: Right. And if there is something that is inappropriate, aren't the Republicans better off that Democrats in the room so that when they come out and say, there was some evidence -- if there were something done that is inappropriately, by all mean, those people should be held accountable. And the President has every right to have a grievance if that's the case, if, if, if that's the case. But he should have the facts first. Should he not? Is that just asking too much?
KAPUR: There is not evidence yet that that is the case. I think the President has put out a theory and that's been talked about a lot, and he's also making some of insinuations (ph) that muddy the waters (INAUDIBLE) that says that James Clapper said there was a spy who was spying on -- an FBI informant who was spying on the Trump campaign. Jim Clapper said the opposite. He said there was a spy to spy on the Russians.
If the Russians were trying to infiltrate our presidential campaign, would we not want to know about it? And should they reveal that to at risk of potentially blowing that source and not getting until that they want in it. So there's a lot of muddying the waters here and the more I talk to strategists and candidates and operatives on a national level, on a state level, the more they say that voters aren't been moved by this because there's so much noise and they don't know what to make of it. People have moved to their corners and --
DAVIS: So that's what the President does. He loves to muddy the waters. Think of how many conspiracy theories he has spread. That President Obama wasn't born here. That President Barack Obama wire tapped him. That his conversations are tapes with these conversations with James Comey. That Ted Cruz's dad helped assassinate JKF. He said all of these things all the time, stunning statement with no facts, evidence-free and then later on says, I didn't say that. I simply suggested it.
KAPUR: And by the end of it, enough voters have heard it and believe it because it's been out there.
King: Or he might say he is President and you're not. He said that once you (INAUDIBLE) report.
Before we go to break, it was an amazing year, remarkable yea, sad year, marked by violence, contentious presidential election and escalating anti-war sentiment. That year, 1968, one of the most consequential years in American history.
Don't miss special two-night CNN original series events starting Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Here's a bit of a preview.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the spring of '68, you have the most violent period of the entire world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've seen the Promised Land, but I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Martin Luther King was shot and killed tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For my parents' generation, king was the dream. And then he's gone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm announcing today my candidacy of the presidency of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god. President Kennedy has been shot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was really the death hope.
[12:40:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wallace knew how to get a crowd energized.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I know a lot of work you don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) over this busy intersection.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "The Graduate" is probably the most important movie of the '60s.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope to restore respect to the presidency.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the most traumatic and consequential years in history.
KING: More on now on today's biggest breaking news, President Trump pulling the plug on that summit that would have made it history, calling it North Korea's fault. But some of the administration also blame China. They think that after a meeting between President Xi and Kim Jong-un, something else changed, China playing a key role in a change of tone from North Korea.
[12:45:12] Let's check in with our International Correspondent Matt Rivers. He's in Beijing.
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well John, no official reaction yet from China to this announcement that this summit has been canceled, but we do know as recently as 24 hours ago, that China was saying publicly that they hoped that this summit would proceed smoothly. But it's interesting because President Trump had brought up several times that China might have something to do with North Korea changing its rhetoric over the past several weeks, becoming more hostile toward the United States. And we do know that China has been engaged in a diplomatic blitz with North Korea over the past several weeks.
Kim jong-un has come to visit China twice, and China has sought to make sure that its strategic interests were being represented at this summit. But the fact to the matter is, no one really publicly knows outside of the two respect active governments, at least as far as we can tell, exactly what Xi Jinping, the President of china, said to Kim Jong-un. There was a lot of speculation that maybe he told North Korea to be tougher on the United States, but no one has at least publicly confirmed that.
And so from there we need to look at what China wants out of this situation. On the one hand, they don't like the influence that the Americans have over this process. But on the other hand they are publicly in favor of denuclearization and they do not want military action on the Korean peninsula. And so the question then becomes, what does China do next? Do they encourage Kim Jong-un to go back to the negotiating table, and if they do, will Kim Jong-un actually listen? John?
KING: Matt Rivers in Beijing, appreciate that. When we come back, President Trump talking about the new NFL policy about the National Anthem, and about immigration judges versus immigration security officials. How are the two things connected? It's a midterm election year. The President's playing to the base.
[12:51:08] KING: A warning from President Trump aired on TV today that could complicate the full spending debates in Congress. Any immigration bill that hits his desk, the President says, must include funding for the border wall if lawmakers expect him to sign it. Listen. This is Fox News this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We actually have four different bills. Unless it includes a wall -- and I mean, a wall, a real wall -- and unless it includes very strong border security, there'll be no approvals from me. Because I have to either approve it or not. There are bills going through. I'm watching one or two of them. We'll see what happens.
I think it's time to get the whole package. It's not such a big deal, right? It's time to get the whole package.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Can he get a whole package, the whole package? He's gotten very modest down payments of this wall funding because it's impossible to get the votes for the whole package. As we get closer to the election, can he find those votes?
KAPUR: He can get the money for his wall. I think Democrats have already seated (ph) to that as part of a DACA deal. What he cannot get is cuts the legal immigration which he wants which have scuttled, you know, immigration negotiation and DACA deals I think for months now. He wants to eliminate the diversity of lottery. He wants to cut what he calls chain migration, which is family sponsorships for siblings, adult parents, adult children.
Democrats are not moving on that. What's happening now is a group of moderate Republicans of the House are teaming up Democrats to subvert Paul Ryan and to push a vote on the House for they can do that with a discharge petition. My colleague Eric Watson reports that there are conversations happening now between those moderate Republicans and the leadership as long as the hard liners to see if Republicans can agree on a deal.
Whether they can, I highly doubt it, because you're not going to get the hard liners to agree on citizenship (ph) without a whole bunch of restrictionist measures that cannot pass the House.
KING: That has been the quick send of the last 10 to 15 years. I want you to listen more in this interview about the President's tone about -- the President we all know he campaigned on having a tough border. What other things that bothers the President is when you come to United States border, and you show up at the border, you can see a judge and apply for asylum. The President says he wishes it were different.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're the only country essentially that has judges. They want to hire thousands of judges.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes
TRUMP: Other countries have -- it's called security people, people that stand there and say, you can't come in. We have thousands of judges and they need thousands of more judges. The whole system is corrupt. It's horrible. Whoever heard of a system where you put people through trials? Where do these judges come from? You know, a judge is a very special person.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
TRUMP: How do you hire thousands of people to be a judge?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: There is a competing view, that what makes America great is that if you are being -- yes, illegal immigration is wrong. And the President has every right to stand up and say we should be able to protect our borders.
Let me start there. He has every right to say we should be able to protect our borders from illegal immigration. Of course, we should and of curse he should make his case and try to get the money. But the idea that if you are being persecuted somewhere, what people say makes America great, you can show up the border and say help and get to see a judge not a security person with a gun who send you away.
DAVIS: Right. And what the President is saying, you know, is so objectionable here is called due process for that particular process. There is -- And by the way, there are people, there are security personnel at the border, and he made sure now there are more of them because the National Guard is now backing up at the border at his orders. But there is a process when these people present themselves and say they have a credible fear of going back to their home countries, there is a process where by, you know, they get process and they register and they get a court date and they get to plead their case. And they figure out whether or not they should be allowed to stay.
What he really objects to and what he is pointing to is the fact that, and it is a fact that, a lot of these people, when they do get their, you know, appointment to go and have their case heard, they disappear into the interior and often times do not return for that court date, and therefore, you know that's another source of illegal immigration. And he has really tried to get at that problem. It's really difficult to get at that problem. And one of the issues with what Sahil was talking about earlier is he wants this legislative package to include changes to that whole process, so that people arriving at the border would have to go through a totally different process or maybe have no process at all or no way of staying in the country if they were afraid credibly of going home.
[12:55:15] KAPUR: He wants to eliminate that right essentially people who come to the country and want to speak to a judge, want to make their case, have a right to be heard. He is not wrong that the United States has generous law in that regard. A lot of other countries don't have this.
But, you know, that is reflective of what the United States claims to stand for, stand for people of all, you know, who are persecuted in all sort of ways based on their race, religion, what have you. The President wants to change that. He wants --
KING: Whatever your opinions at home or whatever your coverage skills here at the table, is there anyone who thinks this close to the election were going to negotiate a major immigration package and get it passed into law and signed by the President?
JOHNSON: They didn't do it months before the election, so I think as we get closer it's more and more unlikely to happen.
COLLINS: But we have seen the immigration be a boiling point for the President in recent weeks. It always has been one of his things but lately he has been furious about it. We saw him unload on the Department of Homeland Secretary recently. He's very angry about immigration which makes it even more unlikely happen.
KING: Yes. Two political reflexes constant (ph), immigration and trade issues.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It might pass the House.
KING: Thanks for joining us in INSIDE POLITICS today. Wolf will start right after a quick break. Have a good day.