Return to Transcripts main page
President Trump Makes A Speech At Liberty University; The President Is Considering A Shake-Up Of His Communications Team; Still No Clarification For The Firing Of James Comey; Trump Possibly Has Tapes Of Recorded Conversation; Trump Warning To Comey Prompts Questions On "Tapes"; Massive Cyberattack Halted, Experts Worry About Copycats; More Calls For Special Prosecutor On Russia Meddlings. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired May 13, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- along very, very well. Through it all, he kept his faith in God, even in the darkest depths of despair. Like so many others of his generation, George came home to a nation full of optimism and pride and began to live out the American dream.
He started a family. He discovered God's plan for him and pursued that vision with all his might, pouring his passion into a tiny college, in a place called Lynchburg, Virginia. Did you ever hear of that? Lynchburg. We love it. Do you like it? We like it, right? I flew over it a little while ago. It's amazing, actually.
What started as a dream with a few good friends, he helped shepherd into the largest Christian university in the world. Just look at this amazing, soaring, growing campus, as I've been watching it grow. Because I've been a friend of Liberty for a long time now, Jerry. It's been a long time.
Thanks in great part to George's financial stewardship, hundreds of thousands of young hearts and souls have been enriched at Liberty and inspired by the spirit of God. George, we thank you, and we salute you. And you just stay healthy for a long time, George. Thank you.
Now, it falls on the shoulders of each of you here today to protect the freedom that patriots like George earned with their incredible sacrifice. Fortunately, you have been equipped with the tools from your time right here on this campus to make the right decisions and to serve God, family and country.
As you build good lives, you will also be rebuilding our nation. You'll be leaders in your communities, stewards of great institutions and defenders of Liberty. And you will be great mothers, and fathers, and grandmothers, and grandfathers, loving friends and loving family members.
You will build a future where we have the courage to chase our dreams no matter what the cynics and the doubters have to say. You will have the confidence to say the hopes in your hearts and to express the love that stirs your souls. And you will have the faith to replace a broken establishment with a government that serves and protects the people. We must always remember that we share one home and one glorious destiny. Whether we are brown, black or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots. We all salute the same great American flag. And we are all made by the same almighty God. As long as you remember, what you have learned here at Liberty, as long as you have pride in your beliefs, courage in your convictions, and faith in your God, then you will not fail. And as long as America remains true to its values, loyal to its citizens, and devoted to its Creator, then our best days are yet to come. I can promise you that.
This has been an exceptional morning. It's been a great honor for me and I want to thank you, the students. I also want to thank you, the family, for getting them there. And I want to thank and congratulate Liberty. May God bless the class of 2017, may God bless the United States of America. May God bless all of you here today. Thank you very much. Thank you.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, President Donald Trump there at Liberty University, his first commencement as a sitting president with a variety of messages there out of Lynchburg, Virginia. Everything talking about loyalty to citizens and its Creator, our best days are yet to come. He talked about messages of what is it to be an outsider, but to never quit, he says.
He's seen it firsthand, and he said in America, we don't worship government, we worship God. All right. Welcome everyone, it's 11:00 Eastern Hour. I'm Fredricka Whitfield here in the "Newsroom".
This has been the first commencement address for a sitting president. President Donald Trump there in Lynchburg, Virginia. It's also his first public appearance since the firing of the FBI Director and the fallout, and this comes on the heels of one of the most difficult weeks of his presidency.
Also today, not far away from Lynchburg, Virginia, but in the nation's capital at the Justice Department in D.C., four candidates to possibly replace fired FBI Director James Comey are reportedly being interviewed for the job. This morning, the President says a decision will come sooner rather than later.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think you might make a decision or announcement before you leave -- before Saturday?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can make a fast decision. These are outstanding people that are very well-known. Highest level. So, we could make a fast decision.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before the trip next week, possibly?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Even that is possible.
WHITFIELD: All right. Let's bring in CNN'S Ryan Nobles who's live there at Liberty University. Packed house there in Lynchburg. The commencement, still going on, but the President just wrapping up his address.
So Ryan, quite the variety of messages. This President trying to sound very inspirational. There from the podium.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fredricka. And you've got to mention that I think the thing I was most struck by is how the President tried to connect himself to the students here at Liberty by describing them both as outsiders. This is an unabashedly evangelical university. They wear their religion and their faith on their sleeve.
Obviously, some of the positions that they take as university are a little controversial in mainstream culture, but the President embraced that. He told them to be proud of the fact that they're outsiders, to take risks because he said that it is the people that take risks that end up changing the world. And he compared his victory in November as an outsider to the work that many of these students at this university at large are doing right now and will do in the future.
The other thing that we can't ignore is how he just piled compliments on the President and Chancellor of this university, Jerry Falwell, Jr., who is, of course, the son of Dr. Jerry Falwell, who was the founder of this university. And Falwell really surprised a lot of people early on in the campaign when he endorsed Donald Trump during the primary, you know, the first world major evangelical leader to do so, and that really helped Donald Trump in a big way in the republican primary.
To a certain extent, this speech here today by Trump was a thank-you message to Jerry Falwell, repeatedly telling him how impressed he was with his work here at Liberty, and how much he appreciated the support that Falwell gave him during the campaign.
And to your point, Fredricka, Trump really tried to connect with the students and the faculty here on a faith level, connecting to their religion. And you mentioned what he said before, but let's play that moment where he talked about what type of nation the United States is.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America has always been the land of dreams because America is a nation of true believers. When the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, they prayed. When the founders wrote the declaration of independence, they invoked our Creator four times. Because in America, we don't worship government, we worship God.
NOBLES: And that line was received very warmly by this crowd. And Fredricka, from top to bottom, the President was in front of a very welcoming crowd, given a standing ovation the first time he appeared on stage. This was definitely a friendly place for the President after a tumultuous the week in Washington. Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right. Ryan Nobles, thank you so much. We'll check back with you. Appreciate it.
So we heard the President's message there to graduates at Liberty University, but it's his mixed messages outside of that arena, and the contradictions all week that have marked a very tumultuous time. When he was called out for vastly different messages, then his staff on the James Comey firing, the President tweeted, "Things just happen too fast for them to keep up."
According to the "New York Times", the President is considering a shake-up of his communications team, including Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Let's take a closer look now. We are joined now Senior Media Correspondent, Brian Stelter. CNN Presidential Historian, Timothy Naftali. And CNN Senior Political Analyst, Ron Brownstein. Good to see all of you.
So Ron, you first -- you know, on the heels on the remarks from the President who kept it mostly positive, but he did, every now and then, inject a few pointed, I guess, points about, you know, broken government, a challenge to the graduates there, saying, "You'll have an opportunity to fix broken government."
At the same time, he gets an opportunity to leave the White House perhaps much more comfortable outside of the White House. Was his message one directly to graduates but was he also, you know, giving some foreshadowing of what's to come in his leadership?
RONALD BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it's a reassertion of themes that have been important to him from the beginning. I mean, he basically said, "You'll be successful to the extent you are like me, an outsider who challenges the system," the way he was defining himself.
I thought the most striking part about the speech, other than the, you know, kind of encomiums to motherhood and football -- which there was plenty -- was the way which he spoke to cultural embattlement among many religious conservatives. I mean, religious conservatives are very important to his success, right from the beginning, as Ryan noted.
I mean, he -- in particular, he did very well among blue collar Evangelicals, much better than people like Ted Cruz expected. That was a big reason why he beat Cruz for the nomination. And then in the general election, he won about 80 percent of, what, Evangelical Christians, showing, again, that they have become an absolute cornerstone, republican constituency.
But part of what he did throughout the campaign and again in this speech was essentially argue that they are under siege by mainstream culture and he is their defender. And then I think, as Alex Castellanos, the republican consultant, pointed out last year, from the beginning, Donald Trump has been able to overcome a lot of dissonance between either his positions or the way he has lived his life, and his evangelical constituency by, in essence, saying, "I will fight your battles for you," and that's what he did again today.
WHITFIELD: And Brian, this President is good at subliminal messages. He does it in a tweet, he did it right there during the commencement address. And then even that "New York Times" report today, saying that there is potentially a shake-up because mixed messaging, poor messaging -- however you'd like to describe it -- coming out of the White House is a really big problem.
The President's saying, "Maybe I'm moving too fast," his own people saying too fast. Is it too fast or is there -- does this highlight other inefficiencies?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: He looks in the mirror and he believes he's looking back at his own best spokesman, that nobody can speak on his behalf as well as he can.
This speech, I think, is so notable because it's the first time in over a week that we've seen the President in this format, really speaking in front of the cameras, and in this case. speaking to a large audience. He was clearly pleased that there was a packed house for the commencement. Of course, most folks there were to see their children graduate, but it was a packed house. It's always thrilling this time of year, to be seeing students graduate.
But the President, I think he gave one-fourth a commencement speech, one-fourth a campaign speech, promising his fans that he is working for them, one-fourth a football booster speech for Liberty University, and really, one-fourth a religious speech, defending white Christian America in an increasingly multi-cultural world.
As Ron was saying, sort of talking about changes in the culture. It was all over the place, which was revealing in and of itself, and there were some sentences that really stood out as he was responding to a chorus of critics, saying nothing is easier or more pathetic than being a critic. These are the words of a man who's been watching a lot of television this week, who has been fed up at the criticism, the accurate criticism of his decision to fire Comey, and frustrated by his own spokespeople, thus the reports that he's thinking about a shake-up.
WHITFIELD: And Tim, there have been words used, like isolated and agitated to describe, you know, White House staffers. Did the President, with his commencement address today, deflect that at all?
TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I don't know if he deflected it, but he certainly didn't show much irritation. He was very self-confident. He's basically sending the signal, |I'm doing what I need to do." You know, "I'm on top of my game."
It was a remarkable speech. It was Trumpian boasts, Nixonian defensiveness, and Reaganesque optimism all wrapped up into one package. It was also -- as Brian mentioned, it's a much more religious speech than we tend to hear from the President. The -- it made it a very unusual speech from him. It was also a commencement speech and it was good to hear him thank parents.
You know, there had to be an element of it as an academic, you know. The -- part of this speech had to be directed at those graduates, and that was there too. A very interesting performance, and not the performance of somebody who, at least outwardly, seems rattled by the week of disarray in Washington.
STELTER: He said the more a broken system tells you you're wrong, the more certain you must be that you must keep pushing ahead. This was against elites, it was against Washington. It was hard not to read those quotes as being a response to people who were saying that he was wrong to fire Comey. He's calling the system a broken system.
WHITFIELD: Right. And that's where I see kind of that -- yes, that's why I see sort of a foreshadowing in some of what he was saying. And then, Ron, just prior to taking to the stage there for his commencement address, he told reporters, you know, he's going to make a decision very fast as it relates to a replacement for James Comey.
And even that is at issue now in terms of the process. Here you have Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who'll be part of, we understand, that interview process taking place today at the Department of Justice, the very person who had to recuse himself from investigations as it relates to Russia and the White House.
So how is it that Jeff Sessions can be part of interviewing any of these four people, we understand, who may potentially be up for the director position?
BROWNSTEIN: And I think -- look, there have been very pointed questions raised even more about Attorney General Sessions' involvement in the decision to dismiss the Director Comey, because that seems to more directly infringe on his pledge of recusal from anything to do with the Russia investigation. Particularly now that the President has acknowledged, you know, rather remarkably in his interview with NBC, that that was on his mind when he made the decision.
So you do have questions being raised by both legal scholars and some democratic senators and House members about whether Attorney General Sessions has, in fact, violated his recusal pledge, and what the consequences should be if so.
And can I just go back real quick to Brian's point? Because you really do see the floor under President Trump, the political floor under him, both because we're becoming more secular and more diverse. In the last few years, for the first time in American history, white Christians are now less than a majority of the country. That is something new in American history.
And among many, particular those who are politically conservative, there is a sense of embattlement around that inexorable demographic change that the President, I think, has been very skillful from the beginning at speaking to people who feel culturally, demographically and economically displaced. They feel he is their voice.
And regardless of the other controversies swirling around him, that fact remains true, and that's what I think holds the floor underneath him, despite the controversies that continue to grow in every direction.
WHITFIELD: All right. We've got so much more to talk about. We'll have you all back. Thank you so much for now. Appreciate it, Ron, Brian and Tim. Appreciate it.
All right. Still ahead, security experts are scrambling now after a massive wave of cyberattacks hit more than 75,000 computers across the globe. Stay with us.
WHITFIELD: If you were hoping for more clarity in the reasons why FBI Director James Comey was fired this week, it's not coming from the President. But in a new interview, the President is denying reports he asked Comey for a pledge of loyalty over a private dinner after his inauguration.
But does the President have the, quote, "tapes" to prove it as he's inferred in this tweet? The White House is denying that the President actually threatened James Comey with that tweet right there, but it's prompting even more questions and confusion around the true motive for pulling the plug on Comey. CNN'S Sara Murray filed this report.
SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump firing off an apparent threat to the ousted FBI Director. Trump tweeting, "James Comey better hope that there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to press."
Trump's barbed warning coming as the President is facing scrutiny for his private conversations with Comey before he was fired. Today, the President is refusing to explain what tapes he was referring to and whether he is secretly recording conversations in the White House.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I won't talk about that. All I want is for Comey to be honest, and I hope he will be. And I'm sure he will be. I hope.
MURRAY (voice-over): As Comey was overseeing the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, Trump said he asked Comey repeatedly for reassurances that he wasn't under investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And did you ask, "Am I under investigation?"
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I actually asked him, yes. I said, "If it's possible, will you let me know? Am I under investigation?" He said, "You are not under investigation."
MURRAY (voice-over): Those conversations, which quickly raised ethical red flags coming twice in phone calls and once over dinner, when Trump says Comey was vying to keep his job.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As dinner was arranged -- I think he asked for the dinner. And he wanted to stay on as the FBI head. And I said I'll, you know, consider. We'll see what happens.
MURRAY (voice-over): But a source close to Comey disputes that account, saying Comey did not request the dinner and had already been reassured by the President he would keep his job. During that dinner, a source says Comey was taken aback when Trump asked for a personal pledge of loyalty, which Comey refused to provide.
All this as the administration struggled to get a story straight about why the President ultimately decided to fire Comey after administration officials initially said it was at the prompting of Department of Justice officials, now Trump says it was his call and says he was thinking about the Russian investigation when he made the decision.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself -- I said, "You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It's an excuse by the democrats for having lost an election that they should have won."
MURRAY (voice-over): Trump took to Twitter to explain the discrepancy, saying, "As a very active president with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy."
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much to Sara Murray for that report.
So just as the Justice Department is conducting interviews for James Comey's replacement at the Department of Justice right now, a congressional source tells CNN the White House is in, quote, "meltdown mode." Sources describe plummeting morale and frustration over the President's conflicting message surrounding Comey.
Let me bring back my political panel to talk more about this. Tim Naftali and CNN's Brian Stelter. Also joining us now, CNN National Security Analyst Steve Hall, a Retired CIA chief of Russia Operations. All right. Good to see you all.
All right, so Brian, you know, this tweet where the President talks about, you know, tapes and he has it in quotation marks -- and we've seen that style from him before, when he talked about wiretapping. It's been in quotation marks. You know, is there a consensus among, you know, fellow republicans now who are ready to pipe in after this kind of pattern of behavior via tweet, and mixed messaging from the White House?
STELTER: Pipe in? It's really the opposite. I'm struck by the silence, Fredricka. If you look around, if you look on television, read the papers, look at senators and legislator's Twitter feeds, we're not hearing much from republicans on this. Now, it's partly because the House is in recess, lawmakers are back in their home districts, some of them avoiding town halls for various reasons. But --
WHITFIELD: Might they be getting their ducks in a row, you know, making sure there's a consensus, and that explains the silence right now?
STELTER: It's possible. Right now, it's a very loud silence, as our colleague Erin Burnett said last night. If you look on television listings for tomorrow's big Sunday political shows, you're not seeing many pro-Trump republicans. You're seeing instead folks trying to avoid having to defend these tweets. Maybe because they're indefensible. People are trying avoid defending them. Let's see if that changes in the week ahead.
WHITFIELD: And Steve, you know, "The Washington post", you know, reporting today that Trump is known to record conversations at Trump tower and even listen in on talks at Mar-a-Lago. So is there a feeling that -- well, if he did that as, you know, the leader of his business, why wouldn't he be recording people at the White House?
STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: You know, there's sort of a long, you know, and interesting history about, you know, who records what in the White House and what is required and then what is protected and under executive privilege. So it -- you know, I think the jury likes so much about President Trump, and specifically in connection with the Russians is still -- the jury is still out on that.
I mean, I was struck particularly by, I think, how this is really a good week for the Russians. I mean, they got into the Oval Office. You know, Sergei Lavrov was seeing making light of the Comey dismissal. And so, you know, it's -- they see, I think-- the Russians -- a lot in common with President Trump to include, you know, recording and obtaining as much information on everybody as they can, possibly for future use. So it's an interesting topic that requires, I think, a little more investigation.
WHITFIELD: Yes. So Tim, you know, Roosevelt, you know, taped. So did, you know, JFK. Johnson. We know Nixon. But the big problem with Nixon is, he just refused to hand over the tapes when subpoenaed. So who else would have to know within the White House if Donald Trump indeed were recording and, you know, would there be protections if it's not necessarily a system of recording within, but could it be recording via his iPhone, say for instance?
NAFTALI: Well, the Secret Service would know. The White House Communications Agency would know. It's not clear to me how strong Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is. John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon worked with their Chief of Staff on the issue of installing a taping system. Kennedy and Nixon and Johnson didn't tell very many people in their inner circle, but the White House Chief of Staff knew. So it'd be a very small group of people.
Yes, he could be using his iPhone, certainly. But if there's a real system in place, more people would have to know. More people on the logistical side of the White House would have to know. But let me tell you this, it would be a disaster for him if he put in a major league recording system. This will not end well for his administration.
WHITFIELD: And why do you say that? Because once you have that record, you have to hand it over? You can't destroy it? I mean --
NAFTALI: It's discoverable. I'm not a lawyer, but one of the things that Richard Nixon learned -- and it ended his presidency -- and he learned it from the Supreme Court, is that executive privilege does not protect you when it comes to criminal activity. If there is a criminal predicate, if there's a reason to investigate something for criminal reasons, you cannot claim executive privilege over recordings.
WHITFIELD: Well, he'd be able to say firing the FBI Director, well, that's not criminal activity.
NAFTALI: Well, that's an issue of -- that's a question of obstruction of justice, and we have to know his motive, and we need evidence. I'm talking about subpoenas. I'm talking about if the congress or the FBI or, I mean, the Department of Justice working at the request of the FBI subpoenas his tapes, were they to exist, he cannot claim, successfully, executive privilege. If there's a reasonable reason, if there's a reason to believe those would be discoverable in a criminal case.
[11:30:02] So, he shouldn't -- he shouldn't think he's in 1973 anymore, 1973, when Richard Nixon's staff revealed or when Alexander Butterfield to be precise revealed there was a taping system presidents had the reasonable expectations their recordings were private property, that they owned them.
That has changed. Watergate changed that and the Presidential Records Act in 1978 changed it. So those recordings, actually belong to the American people. He has some control over them, but executive privilege won't save him if there's anything on those recordings that is relevant to a criminal case.
WHITFIELD: And so we do understand that somehow Democrats, Elijah Cummings, John Conyers have sent a letter to the White House counsel asking, is it the case that recordings is taking place in the White House.
So Steve, how or can the White House get around answering that. We're not talking about a subpoena right now, but right now it's a letter asking for information. Can the White House get around answering that?
STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: You know, I'm also not a lawyer and so it's difficult to know whether or not they will try to do that. One thing we can be sure of, though, is based on the experiences that we've seen in terms of how this administration communicates, they will certainly put up, I imagine, as many barriers as they could to try to and maintain control of this information.
And you know, remember, the focus on all of this gets eventually back to the whole Russian investigation. That's why the president is concerned about what the conversation that he had with Director Comey because, of course, dismissing him in the middle of this investigation is something that does require much more investigation.
Which is why you have members of Congress and hopefully more on the Republican side who can control it asking important questions to try to get to the bottom of all of this, the tapes, what was said, why it was said and eventually how (inaudible). WHITFIELD: OK, and Brian, we've been talking about that deafening silence among Republicans. Paul Ryan was asked pointedly about this whole issue, responding to that tweet by the president and whether he thought it was threatening or not. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: I've decided I'm not going to comment on tweets of the day or hour. I haven't seen them all (inaudible). I'm sure you all will ask this question as well. No one is disputing the fact that the president has the right to hire or fire an FBI director. He made that decision.
It's been made. I think it's important now we make sure there's a qualified and capable person that people have confidence in to take over the FBI. I'll leave it up to the president to talk about and defend his tweets. You know what I'm focused on what is in my control and that is, what is Congress to solve people's problems.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So then Brian, not commenting as potentially damaging as weighing in.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I'm trying really hard not to laugh, Fred. He just said I haven't seen them all. Paul Ryan, you got a phone. You just open the Twitter app and scroll down.
Listen, in some cases it's better not to look I suppose if you're Paul Ryan. You don't want to know. What he was saying there at the end, I understand he said, I'm trying to deal with what's in my control.
But right now for I guess, what, 72 to 96 hours, we've all been talking about Comey not on policy priorities, not on law making priorities, it's all been this scandal. That's bad for Paul Ryan and Donald Trump.
WHITFIELD: All right. Gentlemen, thank you so much. Appreciate it. We'll talk more.
All right, next, it's being called one of the most damaging cyber- attacks in history. More than 75,000 computers in 99 countries have been hit around the world. New details after this.
WHITFIELD: All right, right now, we're getting new information on a massive cyber-attack that has hit users in nearly 100 countries across the globe. A cyber expert tells CNN the malware called "Wannacry" has been halted at least for now, but not before it infected hundreds of thousands of computers, locking them down and telling users to pay up or risk losing all of their data.
Let me bring in CNN Money tech correspondent, Samuel Burke, and CNN Money Europe editor, Nina dos Santos. Good to see both of you. So Samuel, you first. So how was this malware stopped for now?
SAMUEL BURKE, CNN MONEY TECH CORRESPONDENT: A cyber-security researcher accidentally stopped the spread of this ransomware but we're not out of woods yet. This already be in your computer at work and then you show up on Monday and you're still in this situation deciding if you want to pay $300 in Bitcoin in order to get your files back.
I think what's interesting here is this all has to do with a flaw in Windows that Microsoft actually started patching back in March. But if you have not updated your computer, Fredricka, and you're like so many people you see that pop up in the lower right-hand corner, you see that pop up in the lower right-hand corner, you don't want to restart your computer and you say I'll do it tomorrow.
But if you delay that, you could be one of the few people who is vulnerable to this. If you've updated your computer already or do it very soon you're safe. That's all that has to be done here.
WHITFIELD: So, Samuel, you were saying it's folks at home not just businesses and institutions that are being most affected here.
BURKE: Absolutely. People at home, but also big businesses and of course, hospitals over in the U.K. where Nina is as well. Amazing to see how technology actually is affecting people's lives. You know, hospitals had to cancel outpatient appointments. So this is an interesting case where it's not hacked passwords or credit card numbers. These are actual lives that are being affected here.
WHITFIELD: So Nina, on those 16 National Health Service organizations in the U.K. in particular that have been hit, what are officials there doing to try to fix this, save their information, how is it impacting them overall?
[11:40:05]NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN MONEY EUROPE EDITOR: Well, they are taking it very seriously indeed, Fredricka. Just among all of the countries around the world that have been affected, it probably is the U.K. where we've seen a critical national infrastructure affected so badly that Samuel was pointing out, it is people missing appointments, doctor's appointments, and in some cases even surgeries.
Imagine if you're prepped for surgery and then the surgeon tells you that they can't operate because he can't access what blood group you are because all of that is now stored online and computers are being completely shut down by this.
So the government is taking it very seriously. In fact, we saw the home secretary, Amber Rudd, chaired an emergency meeting of what's called "The Cobra" cabinet office, special briefing, which is a bit of like a situation room that you have in the United States dealing with emergencies like this.
And she went into that meeting which just finished in the last 20 minutes or so. She had this to say about the fact that this is a very serious event but not just confined to National Health Service here in the U.K. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMBER RUDD, BRITISH HOME SECRETARY: There will be lessons to be learned from this example, but I think it's normal to focus entirely the different types of software being used. This is a major cyberattack, an international attack. In fact, the response has been good in the U.K., and I hope we'll be able to continue to disrupt it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOS SANTOS: Now remember that the U.K. is in the midst of an election year. People are going to the polls in just few weeks from now, Fredricka. Of course, the National Health Service and how it's responded to this and being vulnerable to this attack will be high up on the political agenda.
But just going back to the international nature of this, we've also had Euro Pole, which is the E.U.'s law enforcement agency coming out saying that this is unprecedented, just like many E.U. countries, the U.K. and other places around the world have been beating up their cyber defense.
We had the G7 biggest economies in the world their finance ministers met earlier today in Italy and yet again stressed the need have a stronger commitment to shore up cyber defenses around the planet.
WHITFIELD: All right, Nina Dos Santos and Samuel Burke, thank you so much to both of you. Appreciate it.
All right, fresh off the firing of FBI Director James Comey, 20 states attorneys general are joining forces calling for an independent counsel to look into Russia's role in the election. We'll speak with one of them right after this.
WHITFIELD: On the heels of President Trump's firing of James Comey, 20 states attorneys general have joined the chorus of voices calling for an independent counsel to investigate Russia's election hacking.
In a letter addressed to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, they write, quote, "As the chief law enforcement officer of our respective states, we view the president's firing of FBI Director James Comey in the middle of his investigation of Russia interference in the presidential election as a violation of the public trust.
As prosecutors committed to the rule of law, we urge you to consider the damage to our democratic system of any attempts by the administration to derail and delegitimize the investigation," end quote. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller signed that letter. He's among the 20 joining me now live. Good to see you.
TOM MILLER, IOWA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Nice to be with you this morning. WHITFIELD: I heard your colleague, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine say there is no courage in the Republican leadership and he said, quote, "We are in a constitutional crisis mode." How do you support that feeling?
MILLER: I think that there's a real need to move to a special prosecutor. I think there's a lot of conflict. There's a lot of concern. A lot of issues raised. Many of those issues would be resolved by moving to a special counsel, who would pursue this, totally independent of any pressure from the administration, totally independent of holding any job within the administration and have the public perception of being independent.
The rule of law really requires that in cases that particularly there's controversy and a lot at stake that the person who is making the decisions in the investigative side and in the prosecution side make those decisions totally independent of the kind of circumstances that are swirling around here, aggravated by the firing much Comey. More than ever we need a special prosecutor.
WHITFIELD: So among those who are critical of a special prosecutor would be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who actually said it would negatively impact the work that has already been done. Do you agree with that argument? Is that a possibility? You want a special prosecutor. You don't necessarily agree with the argument completely. Is he making a good argument in that manner?
MILLER: No, I don't think he's making a very strong argument at all and the reason is that there aren't very many strong arguments against the special prosecutor in this context. The special prosecutor could readily build on what has already been done. And most of what has been done so far is in the investigative stage by the FBI, not by the deputy attorney general.
[11:50:02]So it would be very easy for the special prosecutor to build on the investigation that is being done, share any thoughts from the deputy attorney general and move forward. It might slow it down briefly, but not very long and not at any significant cost relative to the costs that we're feeling now because --
WHITFIELD: Has that already been slowed down in your view with the firing of Comey?
MILLER: Well, it probably has been slowed down somewhat, but not a lot, not something to worry about. I think that the FBI has enormous integrity and enormous persistence. You know, we heard the words of the acting head of the FBI who was the deputy before, and that was very reassuring.
That they will go forward. They will do their duty as he sees it, and in a way the firing of Comey really puts them a little more on the spot to do the right thing. And I think the FBI is going to be very capable of doing the right thing.
WHITFIELD: So two Democratic elected officials are calling for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who authored that recommendation to the president to resign if a special prosecutor is not appointed. I mean, that is not likely to happen you would think under those conditions, but what most troubled you about the sequence of events and where we are now?
MILLER: Well, it's the impact on the rule of law. That when James Comey was in the middle and pursuing completely an investigation involving the campaign of the president, for him to be fired under those circumstances, something like that has only happened once before in our history and it is something that really shook the whole situation I think and put really --
WHITFIELD: And very different circumstances you're talking about the Clinton firing the FBI Director William Sessions at the time?
MILLER: No, I'm talking about Nixon and having the special prosecutor. I think that is the parallel. But look at it from the deputy attorney general's point of view going forward. He could reasonably believe that Comey was fired at least in part because of the thoroughness of the investigation.
You look at sort of the president's sense of loyalty, the president has already expressed his views on the investigation that it should be resolved quickly and thinks it might just be a way of impacting on his election, a very dim view of what is there and what should come out.
And finally and most importantly, the president is so sensitive about anything that reflects on his election win. Even the smallest thing seems to drive him to heights.
But here if for good reason based on the law the deputy attorney general came forward and indicted someone in the campaign for collusion between the campaign and the Russian folks that would drive the president into the atmosphere I think.
And here the deputy attorney general would be working for him, supposed to be loyal to him. Those are really untenable situations it seems to me, and that easily provide for the discretion and wisdom of appointing a special prosecutor.
WHITFIELD: And quickly just yes or no, you draw parallels to Nixon. Do you see the circumstances perhaps laying the same ground work for potential outcome, meaning getting proceedings for impeachment under way because of potential obstruction of justice in this case?
MILLER: I don't see that at this point. You know, what develops in the future is hard to say, but I wouldn't say that at this point.
WHITFIELD: All right, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.
All right, so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM. But first, here is a look at a new high tech approach to entertainment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oftentimes I'll be talking with people and they will be like so what do you do, and I'm like, well, I run a circus. Yes, I have a web design firm and we're a circus, too. No, we're really a circus like lasers, fire, robots.
We're location-based entertainment company creating the future of fun. People have a lot of options for entertainment. We are adding on that landscape in a new way and adding new styles of interaction, new styles of play.
A bunch of nerds would get together once a month and collaborate on stuff. And we started making interactive art and then Microsoft called and said hey, would do you all the entertainment for our E3 Party. And all of a sudden we were like gosh, is there a real business here? Are we actually a high tech circus?
[11:55:04]It was fascinating because the brands like kept coming, and so Intel, Honda, Cisco, IBM, we started working with all these monster companies as just a tiny group of 30 nerds, but we were at the intersection of software and game design and fabrication and out of home entertainment.
This stuff is really a ton of fun. Sometimes I really can't believe that I get to call this work, but it really is work. Make no mistake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Meltdown mode, that is how one congressional source is describing the inner workings of the White House this weekend amid the growing fallout from the president's decision to fire FBI Director James --