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Lawmakers Push FBI to Reveal Russia Probe Targets; President Trump Wraps Up first Foreign Trip Tomorrow; Air Force Probes Incident Involving John Glenn Remains. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired May 26, 2017 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:30:00] RYAN YOUNG, CNN ANCHOR: Last night he was here until almost 2:00, they were energized by this. They thought there were a lot of outside pressure that shouldn't have been applied here. Don't forget, a lot of votes were placed in absentee ballots, so this -- whatever happened in that room, that body slamming, probably didn't have an effect on the overall vote, but there's a lot of people who are watching to see what happens next. He still has a court date ahead, so he'll be facing some more questions from reporters -- Poppy.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Right. That misdemeanor assault charge.
Ryan Young, thank you.
Lawmakers from both parties right now are calling on special counsel in the Russia probe, Bob Mueller, to detail exactly what he is targeting in this investigation. Why? Because they say if he doesn't lay it all on the table, then investigators at the Justice Department could undercut those investigating on Capitol Hill or vice versa.
Our Washington correspondent Ryan Nobles is on Capitol Hill.
So have they directly put this to Mueller, lay it all out for us?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they have, Poppy. And it's important to keep in mind that even though Robert Mueller is in place as the special counsel now, these investigations that are happening in the House and the Senate continue, and there is a sense that since Mueller got on the job that the FBI and the Justice Department have been less than forthcoming with information and documents to these committees, among them those controversial memos that former FBI director James Comey wrote after his meetings with President Trump. And this has started to get these committees anxious.
They're concerned that perhaps they're going to be working against the FBI and the Justice Department and this special counsel, instead of working with them, and that has some like Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse asking questions about exactly what the Justice Department is up to and why they aren't telling the committees about their plans. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: There is at least a reasonable hypothesis that Mike Flynn is already cooperating with the Department of Justice investigation and perhaps even has been for some time. All the reporting indicates that they've got him dead to rights on a false statement felony for what he told the FBI when they interviewed him in the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: That was Whitehouse talking to our Manu Raju. Now that's a pretty big claim by Whitehouse, a bombshell if it were true, but he has no specific evidence that the Justice Department is cooperating with Michael Flynn, but if he were, that would really change the game in a big way.
And, Poppy, at this point, we haven't hear from Bob Mueller. We don't know his plans as special counsel, even though he's been on the job for about a week.
HARLOW: But we do know he's widely respected across the aisle.
Ryan Nobles in Washington, thank you very much.
All right. Let's bring in our political panel, Hilary Rosen is here, our political commentator and Democratic strategist, and John Philips, CNN political commentator and political columnist at "The Orange County Register."
So nice to have you here.
JOHN PHILIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning.
HARLOW: Hi, good morning. Thanks for being here on a holiday weekend especially.
John, here's what you write in your op-ed today. "Whether it's leaks involving the various Russian investigations, the contents of private phone calls with world leaders or even disputes over how many scoops of ice cream he eats, President Trump hasn't been able to get off the presidential hot seat and seemingly can't stop taking the bait."
And you talk about if he's going to get back to his winning mojo, he's got to do that. I mean, he never didn't take the bait during the election, and he won.
PHILIPS: Here's the difference. During the primary, he controlled the story line. He controlled what we in the media talked about. He determined the monikers for all of his opponents. It was lying Ted, low-energy Jeb, crooked Hillary. He determined which issues were spoken of, immigration, foreign wars, trade. He determined the tone of the race, where you saw people like Marco Rubio, the Boy Scout, stepping outside of his comfort zone and making comments related to the size of Trump's hands and his manhood. Hillary Clinton became the queen of snark-on Twitter.
And now the roles have reversed and Trump is responding to the media, he's responding to the bureaucracy. They're controlling the narrative. And if he's going to turn his poll numbers around, he needs to go back to primary Donald and not President Donald.
HARLOW: Hilary, does that bode well for you guys in 2018 and 2020? I ask, because of the special elections we've seen, whether you look at Georgia, whether you look at Montana, Dems have not been able to pull off a win.
HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, we'll see about Georgia. And Montana, you know the guy's margin was less than it was for Donald Trump. But here I think are the two key issues. The first is that there are actually -- this is about more than elections. This is about the integrity of our democratic system and whether it is compromised from Trump officials.
And then the second point is that Donald Trump doesn't seem to know what he doesn't know, which is that, you know, he has been the most sued businessman in history in a way, right? We saw it during the campaign hundreds of lawsuits against him, most of which he ended up settling. What he doesn't seem to realize is this is actually a criminal investigation.
[10:35:03] He has not been the subject of real criminal activity before and that is a whole different ball game.
HARLOW: Just to be clear, Hilary, he's not -- the president at this point is not the subject of a criminal investigation.
ROSEN: No, the president is not, but the presidency is in many ways, right? People around the president, activities of the campaign and the like. And so being more thoughtful, being more restrained is really important.
As far as the general piece of this, though, I do think, you know, that Senator Whitehouse is just wrong. I want Mueller and the FBI and the Justice Department to go about their business. I don't think this is something that Congress is going to do particularly well with. They leak everything, they get hysterical. The Democrats are not in charge, so the Republicans, who knows what they'll do with the evidence.
I'd rather have Congress and Democrats in Congress focus on jobs and tax reform, and you know, making sure that the Trump budget cuts that are hurting real people don't go through.
HARLOW: That was going to be my question, I mean, do Democrats need to focus less on this Russia stuff? And you just answered it, yes, they do, they need to focus on other stuff.
ROSEN: That's true.
HARLOW: Let me ask --
ROSEN: We should trust Bob Mueller.
HARLOW: Really interesting poll numbers out on health care, guys. Not getting a lot of attention this morning. I'm not sure why because they're pretty startling. This is a brand-new Quinnipiac poll. Look at these numbers. 57 percent of folks, voters overall, disapprove of the Republican health care bill. Just 17 percent, if we flip to the next slide, of independent voters, just 17 percent of independent voters say they are more likely to vote for a member of Congress who supports the bill.
John, as a Republican, as a strategist, what does that tell you about those in the House who already voted yes on this thing?
PHILIPS: Yes, I'm not in love with this bill either. It's more of an arranged marriage than one that we chose, but this is the health care bill that we have, and this is what they're moving forward on.
HARLOW: But how do you come up with those numbers?
PHILIPS: Well, I defer back --
HARLOW: You know, 17 percent of independents would make it, you know, more likely to vote for a member of Congress. Yikes. 47 percent say it would make them less likely.
PHILIPS: Well, how many elections have we had since the November election? We had one in Kansas. We had an election in Louisiana for that Senate seat. We had one last night in Montana. The Democrats haven't won one. They're piling up the moral victories and guess what, health care is an issue that's been used against Republicans in those races. We've seen raucous these town halls and the Democrats have not been able to turn it into electoral victories.
ROSEN: Well --
PHILIPS: So until Democrats can prove that they can make it sting, I don't think this hurts Republicans, frankly.
HARLOW: I have 30 seconds, Hilary.
ROSEN: You know, I'm sorry, this is not only about elections. 24 million people are about to lose health insurance. Real people, real hurts. Republicans promised that if they got the chance to fix Obamacare, that they would make it better. This does not make it better and people see that.
HARLOW: Guys, thank you very much. Have a nice long weekend. Take care.
ROSEN: Thank you.
PHILIPS: Thank you.
HARLOW: Still to come, it was a week of viral moments for this president's first overseas trip. The sword dance, the first lady's hand flick, that long handshake with Emmanuel Macron, the presidential shove, you name it. We're going to go through all of it, next.
[10:42:31] HARLOW: Well, there is just one day left in President Trump's first overseas trip as commander-in-chief. Right now he is at the G-7 summit in Sicily. He's meeting with leaders of the most powerful nations in the world. He was with many of those same leaders yesterday at NATO headquarters in Brussels, where he called them out for not paying more into the alliance. And then there was the shove, the moment with Montenegro's prime minister went quickly viral.
That's just one memorable moment from this trip. We saw President Trump at the Western Wall making history as the first U.S. president to go there as a sitting president, and he stood side by side also with the Pope.
Then there was the slap-away. First Lady Melania Trump appearing to reject her husband's hand on the Tel Aviv tarmac. Also lighting up the Internet, the pics of President Trump with Saudi Arabian leaders and that glowing orb.
Here to talk about the moment of the week, Juliette Kayyem, our national security analyst, and David Andelman, editor emeritus for the "World Policies Journal" and a CNN.com opinion writer.
So nice to have you both here.
David, reading what you've written, you say that this trip to Europe has been, quote, "a borderline disaster." Really? A lot of folks look at it and say he has not gone off script, he has not screwed up, this has been a big win for the White House.
DAVID ANDELMAN, EDITOR-EMERITUS, WORLD POLICY JOURNAL: Publicly, yes, but privately this has not been the case at all. And we have to look at the underlying problem. The underlying problem is Donald Trump still hasn't figured out who our friends really are. So what did he do yesterday? Just as an example, he called out Germany in the midst of all of this, saying their trade policies are terrible without understanding that it's not Germany's trade policies, it's the whole of Europe he was indicting. And --
HARLOW: Angela Merkel called his wall out.
ANDELMAN: Right. Well, of course she did, but that's particular to the United States. What he doesn't understand is that -- and he said, by the way, Germany's trade policies are much worse than Belgium's. They're the same. We -- they're one community, one Europe, one union, and that's what he fails to understand that he really needs to be playing nice, if you will, to all.
HARLOW: Gary Cohn did step in and sort of clean that up.
ANDELMAN: He tried to.
HARLOW: And say yes, trade with Germany right now is -- the trade deficit, the trade gap is bad.
HARLOW: Hey, Juliette, to you, the intelligence-sharing, you're a national security expert, now it looks like, you know, the water has been smoothed over because Tillerson went to London and the president is talking to Theresa May today, but this U.S. intelligence-sharing issue with the UK was a big dust-up this week. He got -- they got the job done, though. They cleaned it up. Do they deserve some accolades for that?
[10:45:08] JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, you know, we're back on footing is a good thing, you know. In other words, if our standard is, did anything get damaged, I think we're OK, but I do think that there are lingering concerns from the Europeans, just to pick up on what David said, not simply just what is the policy, why are we, you know, holding orbs with the Saudis and then publicly bashing NATO at a time when they're very concerned with Russia.
And I think the intelligence sharing, you know, the picture we don't have, of course, is of Manchester, that in the middle of this, a major terrorist attack which strained intelligence sharing amongst the -- amongst our allies, which will ultimately hurt us as much as it hurts them, because obviously the threat we face is global.
HARLOW: So the European Council president this morning, guys, Donald Tusk, said he was, quote, "impressed" with the president on counterterrorism.
David, I mean, that's quite a response.
ANDELMAN: Oh, it is quite a response. And frankly, it's probably pretty much right on track. There's no doubt about that. Look, the Europeans and the Americans have to get on the same page with respect to terrorism. There is just so many other things that are -- that can easily drive a wedge between the good feelings that terrorism cooperation can in theory elicit in our relationships with Europe and the rest of the European -- the whole European alliance and the whole European comedy, if you will.
The getting together of these parts of the world that are so very, very important. And I hope that Donald Trump understands the value of having a good relationship across the board, on trade, on security, on all of the other things that matter, and understanding who our friends are and they are not necessarily the Sunnis who want to buy up a whole lot of weapons from us.
HARLOW: Right. And they did this meeting in Saudi Arabia. They've come off this huge $110 billion weapons deal with Saudi Arabia.
ANDELMAN: Sure. But we sell a whole lot of weapons, too, to the Europeans as well. I wonder why.
HARLOW: A lot, indeed, absolutely.
Juliette, what image stands out to you most from this week? I mean, we picked through a lot of them, some very serious, some history- making, like being the first sitting U.S. president to go to the Western Wall, and then other much less important things like the hand flick. But what image will encapsulate in our memories this president's first foreign trip? KAYYEM: Well, I don't want to make too much of the shove, but I do
think the shove is emblematic of something, that, you know, here were the European leaders sort of moving on without Trump. I think historically the U.S. president does come out first, that Trump sort of demanded respect, rather than earning it, says something about the European and U.S. relationship. And then I sort of think in the background the picture we're not seeing is China.
Look, China could be -- is absolutely thrilled with this trip. We're complaining about European trade deals. We're only talking about terrorism, which is a small piece of foreign policy and we're not complaining about the human rights violations in Saudi Arabia that go on not just with women, but obviously in Yemen. That is good for China because as we figure out what is the Trump doctrine, they're not waiting. And so, in the end, China will give this one a thumbs up.
HARLOW: The human rights issue, I'm so glad you brought it up, that not discussed when al-Sisi came to the White House, it was not a focus. He's invited Duterte, the president of the Philippines, to the White House. So a lot of questions surrounding that as well.
Juliette, thank you. David Andelman, thank you as well.
All right. Another blow to the Trump administration's travel ban after the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the block on it. This ain't over yet.
[10:52:34] HARLOW: A federal appeals court has ruled to uphold the block on President Trump's travel ban, saying it, quote, "drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination."
The decision is prompting the Trump administration for its part to vow to take this one all the way to the Supreme Court. The attorney general issuing a statement saying, "The Department of Justice strongly disagrees with the decision of the divided court, which blocks the president's efforts to strengthen this country's national security."
And now to this bizarre story. He's a national hero, of course, and now his remains are at the center of just an unbelievable controversy. There are accusations that a mortuary worker may have offered Defense Department inspectors an opportunity to view the remains of former astronaut and, of course, Senator John Glenn while his body is awaiting burial.
Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has the details.
This one is bizarre. What's going on?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, this is so disturbing. The Air Force is now conducting a full investigation into this matter.
The body of Senator Glenn, he passed away in December. He was buried in April. But in March, his remains were at the Dover Air Force Base mortuary, a major U.S. military mortuary facility. They were caring for his remains in a secure fashion until burial in April.
I don't even know where to begin. DOD inspectors were there conducting an inspection of the mortuary and they reported that a mortuary employee offered them the opportunity to view the remains of Senator Glenn.
I want to say right away, Senator Glenn's family was informed of this incident. Right now there is no indication that anybody viewed the remains of Senator Glenn. Two very important points to make. But now a full investigation under way.
These DOD inspectors said they reported back to the Pentagon they were offered this very disturbing opportunity to view Senator Glenn's remains. And now, of course, the investigation looking at did this employee or any of the employees at Dover make this same offer, if you will -- I'm not sure that's the right word -- to anyone else at the mortuary.
Dover is an extraordinarily unique and honored place. For years now, this has been the mortuary that receives the remains of those who have fallen on the battlefield. Their families often fly to Dover to meet the caskets as they are returning from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, wherever someone has fallen on the battlefield.
[10:55:06] Dover was the subject of a massive controversy in 2011 when they were found to not be properly disposing of some human remains at Dover. So all of this now opens up a very difficult chapter, something that is beyond embarrassing for the U.S. Military.
STARR: While they try and get to the bottom of this, Poppy.
HARLOW: And if it indeed did happen, just incredibly disrespectful to an American hero and his family.
Barbara Starr, thank you for the reporting.
HARLOW: We are moments away from Hillary Clinton speaking at, well, the place where her political career really started, her alma mater, Wellesley College. 48 years after she was a graduation speaker there she will speak again live and you'll see it in just moments.
Stay with us.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Moments from now, Hillary Clinton will be speaking out, going back to where it all began for her in some respects. Getting ready to give the commencement address at her alma matter Wellesley College in Massachusetts.