Return to Transcripts main page

AT THIS HOUR

Trump: DOJ Report Totally Discredits Mueller Investigation; Trump Blasts DOJ Report But Says It Exonerates Him; Trump Falsely Blames Dems For Separating Families At Border; Trump: I Solved The Problem With North Korea. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired June 15, 2018 - 11:00   ET

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


[11:00:00]

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Republicans control everything.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: We're out of time, Tara Setmayer, Joe Trippy, nice to have you both. Thanks for being here. Thank you, all, for joining us for all of the breaking news this morning. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. Have a great weekend. My colleague, Kate Bolduan, picks it up right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. It was like a Friday morning Trump tweet storm, minus the Twitter today. President Trump holding somewhat of an impromptu press conference in front of the White House about, well, everything.

From the Justice Department, inspector general report, a horror show in his words, to the controversy over children and parents being separated at the border, the Democrats' fault in his words, to North Korea's nukes, problem solved, in his words.

So, let's get to it. A lot of fact checking and gut checking needed today. First, the IG report, the president slamming its conclusion that there was no evidence that bias impacted the conclusion of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation. But, Donald Trump also says the report proves he and his campaign did nothing wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The report yesterday may be more importantly than anything it totally exonerates me. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction and if you read the report, you'll see that.

(CROSSTALK)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: What you'll really -- excuse me, wait, wait, wait. What you'll really see is you'll see bias against me and millions and tens of millions of my followers and I think that the Mueller investigation has been totally discredited.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: CNN's Ryan Nobles is at the White House. Ryan, you take it from here.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, first, let's point out that this was really unprecedented what the president did today to walk out to the north lawn, where reporters are stationed, something that presidents don't ever do.

He clearly had a lot to say this morning, in particular about this inspector general report and what is interesting about the president's take on that inspector general report is that while he disagrees with its overall conclusion, there are aspects of it that he thinks supports his belief that he should be exonerated in the Russia probe.

Let's first touch on this idea that the president disagrees with the overall conclusion. Let's listen to his point of view on that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: The end result was wrong. There was total bias. You look at Peter Strzok and what he said about me, when you look at Comey, I guess, you know, interesting, pretty good report and then I say that the IG blew it at the very end with that statement.

You read the report, it was almost like Comey, he goes point after point about how guilty Hillary is. And then he said, but we're not going to do anything about it. The report, the IG report was a horror show. I thought that one sentence of conclusion was ridiculous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: So, he disagrees with the overall conclusion and that overall conclusion specifically says that while there were errors made by the Department of Justice, by the FBI, that those errors were not made as a result of a political bias.

As you heard the president there, he specifically pointing to these text messages between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok that he says shows this demonstration of political bias. The president is taking it one step further when he argues that that exonerates him in the Russia probe.

It is important to point out, Kate, this inspector general report has nothing to do with the Mueller probe, it is all about the investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails, so the president taking a step further perhaps than is warranted -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Taking liberties perhaps we should say, Ryan, great to see you, thanks so much.

Joining me right now to discuss this and always a whole lot more, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Senator, thanks for coming in.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Good morning, thank you.

BOLDUAN: So, what Ryan was talking about, the conclusion of the IG report, the president today said that it was ridiculous, and that the IG blew it on the overall conclusion. Did the IG blow it in your mind?

GRAHAM: Well, you can ask me that after we talk to him on Monday. I want to give him a chance to tell us why he believes that, he'll get challenged and I'll let you know Monday after the hearing.

BOLDUAN: From what you've seen in the report, the evidence they laid out, bad actors, people did bad things, Comey messed up, Peter Strzok definitely messed up, but they didn't see bias in the overall conclusion.

GRAHAM: I'll ask him why he concluded that and see what he has to say.

BOLDUAN: You are open to the possibility that you don't agree with the IG's report?

GRAHAM: I think he'll be challenged about his conclusion. I think he's a good guy and we'll see what happens Monday. I'll tell you better after I hear him explain why he got to where he did.

BOLDUAN: The president maybe -- was the president jumping the gun?

GRAHAM: I think the president looked at this report and said, what more do you need to show bias and I'm in a different lane here, I'm in a different business, my job is to provide oversight to the Department of Justice, I respect Mr. Horowitz, let him explain to us why he reached that conclusion and we'll see what happens.

BOLDUAN: The jump the president made that he exonerates him, that it shows no conclusion and no obstruction, you say?

GRAHAM: Well, here's what I think most people will take from this, particularly the Republicans to be honest with you, that the institutions investigating President Trump took a real blow here.

[11:05:10] Now there is nothing in this report about whether or not he colluded with Russians, he's denied that he has, haven't seen any evidence of collusion.

BOLDUAN: Nothing in the report that gets to that point.

GRAHAM: It's not what the report is about, but the people showing bias against the president were part of the initial Russia investigation. But you'll be kidding yourself if you think this doesn't do a lot of damage to the institutions that are now looking at the president. This gives a face to many of what the deep state looks like.

BOLDUAN: But with this report seems to conclude is there is not a deep state. Overall conclusion --

GRAHAM: I've been saying there is not a deep state, I look at this, and I see the people are conducting an investigation of one political candidate versus the other, seemed to have a very not just a political opinion but a motivation. So that's why we'll have the hearing.

BOLDUAN: The president was wrong, though, in saying that this exonerates him with regard --

GRAHAM: Yes. I mean, this report -- now I'm trying to tell you something that I think is important. This doesn't -- this is not the Mueller investigation. They didn't look at whether or not Trump colluded. What did they find? They found that the people that started the investigation were completely in the tank for Clinton, hated Trump.

BOLDUAN: Not all of them.

GRAHAM: No, not all.

BOLDUAN: Talking about Bob Mueller.

GRAHAM: I'm sure there are a lot of FBI agents that don't share this, but Strzok was in the investigation early on of Russia. Here is the point you got to get. Just back up.

BOLDUAN: OK.

GRAHAM: The institutions have been crippled.

BOLDUAN: Crippled?

GRAHAM: Absolutely. If you don't believe that the average American is going to think that the FBI is far more political than they ever believed, that's crazy.

BOLDUAN: Is Christopher Wray all wrong when he says that the institution is strong?

GRAHAM: I don't -- I think the institution has got a lot of problems. Look at all of the interacts between people in Washington at the FBI and reporters and, you know, the best way to investigate Washington is not do it from Washington. What have I learned?

The FBI's footprint in Washington needs to be reduced. There is too much of a Potomac fever attitude. I'm shocked. I didn't buy into this stuff. That, you know, all these people are out to get Trump. There is enough evidence now to prove to me that the FBI needs to be looked at really closely.

BOLDUAN: What does that mean? You're on judiciary. This is a big threat coming from you.

GRAHAM: It is not a threat. It is a promise. It is a promise we're never going to -- J. Edgar Hoover's spirit is alive and well in some corners of the FBI. Remember this organization during the --

BOLDUAN: Wait a second. You like Christopher Wray.

GRAHAM: Yes. I like him a lot. I voted for him.

BOLDUAN: You don't think he can clean things up?

GRAHAM: I think if the FBI director is telling the country everything is fine here, he should have confidence in the FBI, he's going to have a tough sell.

BOLDUAN: I got to talk to you about immigration. The compromise bill has been drafted, pathway to citizenship for DACA, border security addresses the separation of families at the border and makes big changes to legal immigration. Do you support this in concept?

GRAHAM: Yes, I voted for every form of immigration known to mankind.

BOLDUAN: So, then Senator, the president this morning blames Democrats for the fact they haven't been able to reach a deal. Blames Democrats for the fact that families are being separated at the border for -- I'll play what he said, listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: The Democrats by the way are very weak on immigration. If you notice when I came over, they were all saying about separating the families and that's a Democrat bill. That's Democrats wanting to do that, and they could solve it very easily by getting together. They think it is a good election point. I think it is a horrible election point for them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: He says Democrats were to blame for not having a deal, but then he also said he will not sign this deal. So, who is holding this up?

GRAHAM: Well, I think the Democrats had 60 votes in the Senate, big majority in the house in the first year of President Obama's term and did nothing about immigration.

BOLDUAN: Talk about now. Talk about now. Now there is a real --

GRAHAM: Plenty of blame to go around. President Trump could stop this policy with a phone call.

BOLDUAN: He doesn't seem to acknowledge that.

GRAHAM: Well, he can't. I'll go tell him. If you don't like families being separated, you can tell DHS to stop doing it. Here is the problem.

BOLDUAN: Wait, what does that say? They keep saying it is the law, it is the law, it is the law, it is the law.

GRAHAM: He didn't think Democrats are working in good faith with him.

BOLDUAN: So, is this another one of those never let a good crisis go.

GRAHAM: I think both parties are looking at it that way a bit. I'm trying to solve a problem. The jails are full of people. If you got a problem with putting somebody in jail, who 's a parent, the jails are full.

BOLDUAN: But it is different. You're talking about -- it is a single parent home and if someone goes to jail, those children are taking care -- they'll go to the foster care -- with the families. We're talking about just a regular joe schmo --

GRAHAM: Where are these kids taken to?

BOLDUAN: They're taken to an abandoned Walmart?

GRAHAM: They're in the custody of the United States. They're not being tortured. They're not being mistreated.

BOLDUAN: You don't think this is OK what is happening?

GRAHAM: I think this is a terrible situation I'd like to fix. Let's not talk about parents being separated from their children because they commit crimes. That happens every day. What I'd like to do is have a rational legal immigration system so people don't come here illegally, they can come here and go back to where they live.

BOLDUAN: But again, the president says he thinks it is horrible. He says he thinks it is horrible that parents and children are being separated.

GRAHAM: Always horrible. It's horrible when somebody goes to jail with children.

BOLDUAN: Is this unnecessary?

GRAHAM: I think -- here's what I think. I think if you don't tell people you're going to be serious about enforcing the laws, you'll get more of it. You know what would be necessary is to fix it. I'm disappointed that the president said he wouldn't support the house bill. I'm very disappointed we couldn't get --

BOLDUAN: I get it. He's playing politics, right? Everybody's playing politics. The president could fix this with a phone call, you said.

GRAHAM: Yes, but that just incentivizes more illegal immigration.

BOLDUAN: Are you sure?

GRAHAM: Yes, I'm sure. I'm sure that people are going to be less likely to bring their kids to America if they get separated than if they lived together and get released into the country. I'm real sure about that. But here's what I'm really sure about. Our system is broken, and Democrats and Republicans ought to fix it including the president.

BOLDUAN: You fix the crisis right now, this one issue -- fix this crisis right now and also continue the discussion about something you've been fighting for, for I don't even know.

GRAHAM: Ten years.

BOLDUAN: I mean, for ten years now. It is not going to be fixed in two weeks. We're heading into a midterm, we're talking like raw politics here.

GRAHAM: Let's take this crisis. And see if we can find something good for border security and good for DACA and stop separating families, but also stop incentivizing people to bring their kids. Let's see if we can do that. Maybe something good will come from this.

BOLDUAN: Can you trust the words coming out of Donald Trump's mouth? I ask this because he mischaracterizes what is coming out of the IG report. He mischaracterizes what is happening at the border separating families. Can you trust the words that come out of his mouth?

GRAHAM: I think from -- here's what I think. I'm trusting as much as Obama. Obama told me stuff I didn't believe.

BOLDUAN: That is a low bar for you.

GRAHAM: Yes, it's pretty low. Here's what I would say about the president and the words coming out of his mouth. He thinks he's turned a corner with North Korea, we'll see. Time will tell. He thinks he has. I hope he has.

BOLDUAN: All right. Stick around. That's our next topic. Talking about exactly that. North Korea coming up next. President Trump just said solved the North Korean problem. Is it already done? Lindsey graham will weigh in on that and discuss the path forward now. The markets are now turning red after the Trump administration hits China with new tariffs and China vows to retaliate. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:17:21]

BOLDUAN: Problem solved. Talk to you Sunday and call if you have any questions, that is basically how President Trump described the North Korea threat today and where things stand with Kim Jong-un now after their historic summit. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I have solved that problem. We're getting it memorialized and all. But that problem is largely solved, and part of the reason is we signed, number one, a very good document, but you know what, more importantly than the document, more importantly than the document, I have a good relationship with Kim Jong-un.

That's a very important thing. I can now -- wait, I can now say, well, we have a problem, I told him, I gave him a very direct number. He can now call me if he has any difficulty. I can call him.

I went there, I gave him credibility. I think it is great to give him credibility.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Senator Graham is back with me. He has solved the problem. Do you see -- do you believe that at all?

GRAHAM: I don't believe -- I believe we're better off today than we were two years ago.

BOLDUAN: Solved the problem is much further than we --

GRAHAM: When the nuclear weapons are gone, the missiles are dismantled, when the regime stops threatening its -- the world and killing its own people, we solved the problem. We're not there yet. I hope we can be. The problem is not solved until they give up their weapons.

BOLDUAN: But again, when do words matter? That's what I ask? Because words will matter a lot to Kim Jong-un. The words matter that were on the communique for Kim Jong-un. When do words matter here?

GRAHAM: Here is where we're at. This is going to end really well or really badly. The status quo is over. Can you imagine what would happen if Kim Jong-un went to his old way of doing business? Trump would have to attack. He's put himself if a box, both of them have. The worst thing Kim Jong-un could do is tell Trump to his face I'm going to give up my nuclear weapons and play him because if you do that, you're going to get fire and fury.

BOLDUAN: At the same time, you have Trump saying Kim Jong-un loves his people and when asked about the fact that Kim Jong-un, about being a killer, he says Kim Jong-un has to be tough, he got the job when he was young. I'm paraphrasing, not too far off. I want to play for you how he addressed it. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You've spoken so passionately about the circumstances that led to Otto Warmbier's death and the same breath you're defending now Kim Jong-un's human rights record. How can you do that?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: You know why? Because I don't want to see a nuclear weapon destroy you and your family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By the way, you declared the nuclear threat from North Korea is over.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Because I don't want to see a nuclear weapon destroy you and your family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Is that OK?

GRAHAM: I think that is the most honest answer he could give. Remember World War II, Josef Stalin, we sent him tanks and planes and he was our key ally in defeating Hitler.

[11:20:08] The Soviets led the Germans (inaudible). I don't think Churchill and Roosevelt went to Uncle Joe every day and said, hey, why don't you --

BOLDUAN: I hear you. I think people would give the president leeway and not beating the drum of human rights abuses every time he talks to him in order to keep him at the table. But going as far as to justify Kim murdering his people, how can you --

GRAHAM: I don't take it that way. I think what the president is trying to tell this lady is I got a chance to do something really good and he's going to use his own judgement, negotiating skills. If he believes flattering the guy up would get rid of his nuclear weapons better enough.

BOLDUAN: Let me play what Trump said about sanctions because this is a huge deal. Watch to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At what point do the sanctions come off of North Korea?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: When we can be sure there will be no more nuclear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How close are we to that?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Very close. We are very close to getting it started.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Are you clear at all then where the line is, where the bar is, what the standard is for removing sanctions?

GRAHAM: I've talked to Pompeo. I have a pretty good idea what we're talking about. We're not going to take maximum pressure off. I worry about the Chinese beginning to double deal. For the last 90 to 120 days, the Chinese and the Russians are undercutting the maximum pressure campaign.

So, some advice to the president. Do what you need to do to end this well, so we don't have a war, make the world safer, protect the homeland from a missile. China and Russia are beginning to undercut you, you need to read them the riot act.

BOLDUAN: On Russia, he was asked about on Vladimir Putin, the president today blamed President Obama for the annexation of Crimea and said it very forcefully because Russia lost Obama didn't have Russia's respect and so Obama is to blame for the annexation of Crimea. Clearly, that's not accurate. That's not true. If that's where his head is, though, do you have any hope of convincing him that Putin is a bad guy?

GRAHAM: You hold him responsible for everything that happened in the world. The reason the world is so screwed up is Obama was weak and I'm strong.

BOLDUAN: When you're president, what happens is on your shoulders. GRAHAM: What I suggest to the president that Putin took Crimea in spite of the world's opposition, not just Obama, what are you going to do about Putin in Syria?

BOLDUAN: On all of this. I ask, when can you -- when can you trust the words coming out of his mouth. He says this, his administration has been putting sanctions on Russia for the annexation of Crimea. I don't understand, words no longer matter.

GRAHAM: All I can tell you is from president's point of view, he's got a style that is unique to him, what I'm looking at is results. Are we able to push Russia and Iran out of Syria to give Syria back to the Syrian people, not become a puppet of Iran and proxy of Russia? That's a big test for this president. Can we find a way to have a breakthrough in terms of Russians misbehavior? What do you do about the interference in the 2018 election?

BOLDUAN: You went from -- I'll sum it up, hating him, making fun of him, finding peace, trying to work with him, where you can work with him, then comes out and hits you again on whatever he decided to do on a given day, do you trust him now?

GRAHAM: I trust the president.

BOLDUAN: Trust but verify with him as well.

GRAHAM: It's not about trusting the -- I like the president. I trust him in terms of trying to do things that are big and matter. Here's what I've got. I've got a relationship with the president at a time when I think he needs allies.

BOLDUAN: But if people say this is two-faced, where is the Lindsey Graham of standing up to Donald Trump, what do you say?

GRAHAM: Well, I'll tell him when I think he's wrong. Let me tell you about the critics. When I worked with President Obama and I did on occasion, I was a hero. When I worked with President Trump, I'm two- faced. I know how the game is played. I don't give a damn.

I'm doing what's best for the country. I like the president. I want to help him. I hope he's successful. He's been a friend to me. And he says some things I don't agree with. If you don't like me working with president Trump to make the world a better place, I don't give a --

BOLDUAN: And there you have it. Senator Lindsey Graham in only the way Senator Lindsey Graham can always have the last word in an interview with me. Thank you, Senator. Thanks so much.

We have breaking news we'll get to this morning, CNN now learning President Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is indicating he's willing to cooperate with federal prosecutors. He's feeling Trump and his allies are turning on him. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:29:00]

BOLDUAN: Breaking news coming in for two people once close to President Trump now both facing serious legal trouble of their own. Sources tell CNN that the president's long time personal attorney, Michael Cohen, could be moving closer to flipping and working with prosecutors. This as former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is in court today fighting to stay out of jail as prosecutors argue that Manafort is a danger to the community.

Joining me now, CNN reporter, Kara Scannell, and CNN crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz. Shimon, first to you, what are you hearing about Manafort in court?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: He's in court today on new charges of -- for obstruction, for perhaps witness tampering in this case. And what we're told is from my good friend, Evan Perez, my colleague there in court, that the prosecutors are calling Manafort a danger to the community that he committed a crime while on release.

They say this is significant, the prosecutor is saying, they're arguing in court that he sustained a campaign of over five weeks using different phones and apps, remember, some allegations that he was using encrypted apps to mold testimony of witnesses, he was reaching out to witnesses to try and asked them for favorable testimony.