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Trump Adviser: Sessions Knew Of My Russia Trip; Russia Probe Hangs Over Trump's High-Stakes Asia Trip; Trump Has Denied Knowing Of Campaign/Russia Contacts; Senate Dems Want To Question Sessions Again; No Evidence U.S. Hitting ISIS "10x Harder" After Attack; Trump Twitter Account Goes Down, Company Blames Employee. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired November 3, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Happening right now, wheels up for Air Force One. President Trump on his way to Asia, kicking off the longest foreign trip of his presidency and the longest trip for any sitting president since George H.W. Bush.
Hugely consequential in and of itself especially with new threats coming from North Korea, but he is also bringing along with him quite a bit of political baggage as well. Today, there are new developments on several fronts in the Russia investigation.
The president says that he doesn't remember much about that key campaign meeting where -- a meeting with Putin was floated, but new pushback against that from a Trump campaign adviser.
Another person that doesn't remember, Jeff Sessions and another person that says he did talk to Sessions about making contact with Russia, another foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign.
This time it's Carder Page, who is under oath speaking to the House Intelligence Committee. Are you starting to sense a theme here? A lot to get to today. So, let's do it.
CNN's Jessica Schneider has the very latest on the Russia investigation, but I want to start at the White House right now, Joe Johns is there. Joe, the president is heading off on the monster trip to Asia but quite a bit to say before he left?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: He certainly did. He talked about ISIS. He talked about the FBI. He talked about the need for the Justice Department to investigate Hillary Clinton. Somewhat all over the place.
But when you take his departure statements along with his tweets early this morning, it seemed as though the president was trying to get everything in before he left for Asia. Of the big themes, probably the most important thing the president talked about this morning was the Russia investigation. Including indicating that he saw his meeting with others and with George Papadopoulos, the foreign policy adviser who has since pleaded guilty for false statements in the Russia investigation, he saw that meeting as unimportant.
He said he didn't remember it very well, and also on departure, I did ask the president if he stood by his statement that no one with the campaign have had contacts with Russia. So, listen to what the president had to say before he left.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I don't remember much about that meeting. It was a very unimportant meeting that took place a long time. Don't remember much about it. All I can tell you is this, there was no collusion, there was no nothing. It's a disgrace, frankly, that they continue.
You want to look at Hillary Clinton and you want to look at the new book that was just put out by Donna Brazile, where she basically bought the DNC, and she stole the election from Bernie. So that's what you ought to take a look at.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: So the president hit that very, very hard on departure. I have to say also even apparently in the air, if it is, indeed, the president and not perhaps say Dan Skovino (ph), who sometimes tweets for the president and might be on the ground.
He continued tweeting once he left Joint Base Andrews on the first leg of this trip, talking about Donna Brazile, who has written this new book stating the DNC rigged the system illegally, the primary and so on, and on talking about Bernie Sanders.
So, more of that and it's very interesting, Kate, that while this could be deemed irrelevant by many, given the fact that Hillary Clinton is a person he beat in the election, he continues to push the drumbeat on the need for an investigation into her, and all of that. Back to you.
BOLDUAN: Let's see what the Twitter feed brings us while this trip begins. Great to see you, Joe. Thank you so much.
Let's drill down more on the Russia investigation and all the new threats that are coming through today. CNN's Jessica Schneider is in Washington, tracking all of it. Jessica, there's quite a bit. Attorney General Jeff Sessions seems to have selective memory that he's dealing with right now when it comes to the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia. What did we learn from Carter Page yesterday?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. New revelations from Carter Page. He says he told Jeff Sessions that he was traveling to Russia at the height of the campaign, Kate, and the disclosure by Page was made during a six-and-a-half-hour testimony before the House Intelligence Committee yesterday. So, Page says he informed Sessions about his trip during a group dinner in Washington in 2016. That was while Sessions was a top campaign surrogate, also leading the campaign's national security team.
Well, now Page, he put a few caveats on his disclosure. He said he mentioned it in passing to Sessions and that while Page was in Russia, he didn't actually meet with Russian officials, he was just there to give a speech.
But really, those caveats aren't stopping Democrats from calling for clarification from the attorney general. In fact, Senator Al Franken told CNN last night it seems that Sessions, quote, "has problems telling the truth" and, you know, Senator Franken may have said that because of Sessions' answer to Franken's question at a hearing back on October 18th. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:05:11] SENATOR AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: You don't believe that surrogates from the Trump campaign had communications with the Russians? Is that what you're saying?
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I did not and I'm not aware of anyone else that did. And I don't believe it happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: So, that was the answer then on October 18th. But now, of course, we know that Carter Page, he told Jeff Sessions he was traveling to Russia and plus earlier this week, we learned that the foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, during the campaign he also brought up his proposal to meet with Russian officials during a March 2016 meeting.
We know from sources that President Trump did not dismiss the idea. He didn't say yes. He didn't say no, but Jeff Sessions actually did. He said no meetings with Russian officials were going to happen. So, you know, we know that happened. We know that Jeff Sessions didn't really disclose this during any hearings on Congress.
And of course, Kate, we know that Jeff sessions, he had his own interactions with Russians throughout the campaign, Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak and he didn't immediately disclose those meetings as well during the confirmation hearing.
He had to go back later and clarify and now with this Carter Page revelation, we know that Democrats on both the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, they're calling on Sessions now to clarify his responses to everything regarding what he knew and some of these possible meetings from his other campaign associates -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Really quick, and there's -- and there's more. Jared Kushner, he turned over documents to Mueller's team. Do we know what he turned over and what this means? SCHNEIDER: Yes, that's right. We know -- well, he voluntarily turned over the documents. They're documents he had from the campaign, the transition, so anything he had related to contacts with Russia. So, he gave that over to the Special Counsel's Office.
And that includes some documents that might actually explain his role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey back in May because we know that special counsel is also probing any obstruction of justice as it relates to Comey's firing.
So, we heard from sources from the White House, they say Kushner is not a target of the investigation. But, of course, Kate, a senior adviser to the president, his interactions could play a big role in this investigation.
And interestingly and importantly, this document production to the Special Counsel's Office by Jared Kushner really, Kate, is the latest sign that investigators, they're reaching into the president's inner circle and that really the probe has expanded beyond just what happened on the campaign to what actually has happened inside the White House over the past 11 months or so -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: At the very least, that seems to be definitely what we're seeing right here. Great to see you, Jessica. Thank you so much.
BOLDUAN: Joining me now to discuss all of this, Chris Cilizza, a reporter and editor-at-large for CNN Politics, Ned Ryan, founder and CEO for conservative grassroots group, American Majority, Keith Boykin, CNN political commentator, former aide in the Clinton White House, and Michael Zeldin, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor. He worked under Bob Mueller at the Justice Department.
Ned, we got you to come to New York to play.
NED RYUN, CEO, AMERICAN MAJORITY: Yes, you did.
BOLDUAN: All right. Not starting with you, though. Chris to you --
BOLDUAN: That's called a Kate pick. Now the president says he doesn't remember much about this meeting where Foreign Policy Adviser Papadopoulos said that he could set something up, meeting with folks.
CHRIS CILIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yes.
BOLDUAN: Let's all go back down memory lane for just a second. Here is what the president said to questions about connections with Russia back in February.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you say whether you are aware that anyone who advised your campaigns had contact with Russia during the course of the election?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I told you, General Flynn obviously was dealing so that's one person, but he was dealing, as he should have been --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: During the election?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: No. Nobody that I know of.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, you're not aware of any contacts during the course of the election.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: How many times do I have to answer this question?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you just say (inaudible)?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Russia is a ruse. You have to get up and ask a question. I have nothing to do with Russia to the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: So, now, how does this all fit together now?
CILIZZA: Well, you know, he is saying, and I think it is somewhat understandable he's saying, look, you know, I have a lot of meetings, I didn't remember this one. The problem, this is often the problem for Donald Trump, the problem is that last Wednesday, he was proclaiming himself to have, quote, "one of the greatest memories of all time."
BOLDUAN: That is a direct quote.
CILIZZA: I don't remember what I had for lunch yesterday. I'm not going to put it on a guy he doesn't remember something that might have been mentioned -- something that was mentioned in a meeting in passing. I understand all of that.
But the problem is he continues to portray himself as someone who does remember everything so when you do that, you put yourself in a higher level of scrutiny particularly when it relates to a meeting in which according to court records the proposal was made that candidate -- then-Candidate Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin meet and Jeff Sessions was the one who stepped in and said we're not doing that.
BOLDUAN: Well, on the Jeff Sessions' front, Ned, he did not make the claim that he is one of the best memories of all time. We will give that to him.
RYUN: That's right.
[11:10:04] BOLDUAN: We will hand that to him. Democrats now want him back on the Hill to answer questions about basically Papadopoulos and now Carter Page. He's got -- there are more questions. I mean, do you think Sessions has got trouble on his hands? RYUN: I think sessions should probably go back up to the Hill and say fine I will have any conversation you want to have, put me under oath. I mean, to Chris's point, again, some of us have trouble remembering what we did two weeks ago a year ago.
I've been in D.C. almost 20 years, you go to the dinners, somebody shakes your hand, I'm doing this, you don't quite remember. So, one of these things with Sessions, some of it -- so much is going on, does he remember everything that took place year, year and a half ago?
I don't think any of us at this table could remember what we did exactly every day a year ago. It's a little problematic with Sessions. I think there are people that are a little disgruntled with Jeff Sessions on a variety of other fronts including the president at times.
So, I don't think you will see a lot -- I don't think you will see a lot of us defending Sessions. I would call for him to resign and move on.
BOLDUAN: You still think so?
RYUN: I still think so. I do. I don't think Jeff Sessions has been new. I think he made a big mistake recusing himself from this investigation.
BOLDUAN: But that's the thing that everyone compliments him for and commends him for.
RYUN: I'm not a huge fan of Eric Holder's, but I respect the fact that Eric Holder would go to the mat for his president and you do not see that with Jeff Sessions and I think that's very problematic.
BOLDUAN: Keith, what do you think? Do you hand it to him that it's hard to remember -- I don't know why you guys have such a hard time remembering what you had for lunch? Maybe I think too much about food. But do you hand that to him that this is a meeting that could have been forgotten? These meetings could have been forgotten?
KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I remember a quote from Donald Trump last year, Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 33,000 e-mails that are listening. I remember Russia being a topic of conversation for a good part of the campaign last year.
The idea that Jeff sessions and Donald Trump conveniently don't remember this, doesn't seem plausible. And Jeff Sessions, you know, Ned said that he won't go to the mat for Donald Trump, the reality is, Barack Obama never had a situation where his people around him were being indicted so he never had a reason for Eric Holder to go to the mat for him like that.
But Jeff Sessions is in trouble because Jeff Sessions right now is in danger of not telling the truth, not only to the congressional committee, but possibly to the American people, and he's going to be called to testify to the FBI to find out what he really knows. BOLDUAN: Well, we will see. But I mean, again, Jeff Sessions, might like it or not, he has recused himself from all things Russia related. I wonder what more Democrats want?
BOYKIN: What more they want from Jeff Sessions?
BOYKIN: Well, Donald Trump said today that he's not happy with what the Justice Department is doing. You have --
BOLDUAN: You know what, let me actually get to that because I actually think this is important. Michael, this comes to you so drop some knowledge on us please. Amid all this the president says today he's disappointed in the Justice Department and the FBI.
Disappointed that he can't essentially make them investigate Hillary Clinton and that's basically it. He also slammed the Justice Department just yesterday in how it's handled terror cases, again saying we need them to be quicker, stronger, fairer. How is that received over at Justice, do you think?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Not well. Let's take each of them separately.
ZELDIN: With respect to the president's desire to intervene in ongoing investigations that touch him and his orbit, that's just off limits. You can't do that.
ZELDIN: To the extent that he wants to say, I want new policies with respect to the enforcement of our immigration laws, the enforcement or lack of enforcement of our environmental laws, the manner in which we proceed with terrorism cases, that's all fine.
That's policy. He can say that. He's the chief executive officer. But he can't intervene case by case and he keeps wanting to, and he keeps wanting. And he's frustrated by the fact that he can't do that, but that's the constitutional system that we live in, that you don't serve as your own judge and jury and determiner of facts.
CILIZZA: Well -- and Kate --
BOLDUAN: Go ahead, Chris.
CILIZZA: I'll just going to suggest, to Michael's point, I do think what you have to remember is Donald Trump's formative experience is different radically different than anyone else who has ever held this office before. Not served in the military, not ever held elected office. What is that experience? It's as a CEO. Whether that's of his company or of --
BOYKIN: A family company. CILIZZA: Or of his reality tv empire for lack of a better word. The point is, in that world, everybody does work for you and if you want something done, you tell them, and they do it. I mean, he has struggled I think to adjust in many ways from being a businessman, private citizen, candidate, into being a president.
I think one of the ways that it's important to remember is, he has no background in -- well, he just assumes everyone works for him because that's all he's ever known, and he -- you know, you've seen this as it relates to Congress. He doesn't understand why Congress doesn't do what he says.
[11:15:03] You've seen it as it relates to the judiciary. He does not have that three branches of government, tripartite government, understanding because he's never -- he's not well versed in it and never dealt with it in his own life.
BOLDUAN: And the most political sense, though, Ned, you can speak to this, it has been working for him because despite -- if we're just going to -- only focus on Russia you have two indictments and a guilty plea and now more connections than before with -- relating to Russia, that's not moving -- that's not moving the base. That's not concerning you?
RYUN: It's not. I mean, look at it and some ways I would say Donald Trump had a great week on the Russia investigation so did Bob Mueller.
BOLDUAN: Wait, how did Donald Trump have a good week on the Russia investigation?
RYUN: Manafort and Gates were nailed for trying to hide $75 million while acting as -- illegally as agents for the Ukraine. That's what this is about. Seven of the 12 counts dealing with them, not doing foreign bank account receipts and failing to file a foreign agent -- it has nothing to do with Trump/Russia collusion in the 2016 campaign.
BOLDUAN: Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton you would be going crazy over indictments over Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman and Barack Obama's campaign chairman.
RYUN: You step back -- Papadopoulos -- volunteer, insignificant --
BOLDUAN: Who else is an unpaid volunteer, Steve Bannon, Paul Manafort.
RYUN: I think it's time for Jared Kushner to go home. Jared Kushner was very much involved in the Manafort decision. He was involved, he said don't fire Comey on day one when Jeff Sessions and Steve Bannon were saying you have to fire Comey day one or stuck with him. He said don't fire him and in May, he said fire him.
BOLDUAN: I feel like you should be like -- (CROSSTALK)
RYUN: I think Jared Kushner has been one of the worst advisors for the president. I think it's time for him to go home and for Donald Trump to say --
BOLDUAN: No way. There's no way he sends him home.
RYUN: I think he should.
BOYKIN: Well, I think Jared Kushner is in danger of being legally culpable for his engagement in the Russia investigation and because of that, he may want to leave office.
BOLDUAN: He may want to go home.
BOYKIN: Seriously, he may want to leave office so he doesn't further endanger the president. If he really is loyal to the president it might be in his interest to do so. Honestly, I think that's what scares Donald Trump more than anything else.
RYUN: If he's loyal and it's about the president and the president's best interest, he needs to go home.
BOYKIN: But I don't think the president wants his son, Donald Jr. or his son-in-law, Jared Kushner to be implicated in this, and I think he is willing to do whatever he can to defend them, even the possibility of perhaps even using the effort of the law to try to help them out.
BOLDUAN: A whole lot happened here. I'm going to have to sit on it for a while. Michael, we'll discuss it later. Chris, I love you today, not tomorrow. I can grow and change, do you see that? Talk to you guys later. It's an ongoing feud between Chris and I.
The U.S. is hitting ISIS 10 times harder in the wake of the New York terror attack. President Trump making that claim but what are the facts on this. We have new information from the Pentagon. We will bring it to you.
Plus, Twitter says a rogue employee took down Trump's Twitter account on his last day on the job. Honestly, how could this happen and what does this mean in a very serious sense about the security of the president's Twitter account. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Every time we're attacked from this point forward and it took place yesterday, we are hitting them 10 times harder. So, when we have an animal do an attack like he did the other day on the west side of Manhattan, we are hitting them 10 times harder. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: President Trump just this morning, the U.S. is hitting ISIS 10 times harder after the New York attack that killed eight people. He tweeted much the same also this morning. The military has hit ISIS much harder over the last two days.
They will pay a big price for every attack on the U.S. That all came as news to a lot of folks. Is this a new strategy? What has changed? Well, let's see where the data lands us.
Joining me now CNN senior national correspondent, Alex Marquardt, has much more on this. Alex, we just heard from the president, but what are we also hearing from the Pentagon?
ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, as you might imagine, the U.S. keeps very careful track of the number of airstrikes that they carry out against ISIS and, in fact, U.S. military has been fact checking the president in real-time today and there's nothing to indicate that there's been any sort of uptick in the airstrikes carried out against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
The numbers they put out today on November 1st, the day after the attack here in New York, there were 11 air strikes, on November 2nd, there were 13 air strikes. That's exactly the same number as the number of airstrikes carried out the day of the attack, October 31st, Halloween.
So, no indication that the number of strikes are going up let alone that they're going up ten times. We should note with ISIS losing so much ground in Iraq and Syria, there are far fewer targets for that U.S.-led coalition to hit.
But the much bigger point is that this was, as far as we know, an ISIS-inspired attack. There's no evidence, no indication that there was any sort of relationship or direction coming from ISIS in Iraq and Syria to the attacker here in New York. So, for an ISIS-inspired attack there really is no military solution -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Yes. And again, getting us to a place of the president's statements where the facts are, and now more questions about the president's statement. Thanks for laying it out. Alex, great to see you. Thank you so much.
Coming up for us, President Trump's Twitter account goes down, goes dark. Sparking 11 minutes of wild intrigue, but it's now raising some very serious security concerns. That's next.
BOLDUAN: It is the president's preferred means of communication, his soap box, mouthpiece, bully pulpit, all rolled into one and for a few minutes he did not have access to it at all. If you are one of President Trump's 41.8 million Twitter followers this is what you saw last night when you went to his page.
Was it hacked? Did someone take over the account? Did his staff simply takeaway his phone? None of the above according to Twitter. Officials say the brief interruption was actually the work of an employee on his last day going out with a bang apparently.
Joining me now to discuss, and lay this out and what this actually means, CNN's senior technology correspondent, Laurie Segall, here with me now. How could this happen?
LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECH CORRESPONDENT: You know, I'm told by employees at Twitter that after the election, they tightened the circle around who had access to Trump's account, right. So, they said only a certain number of people.
It could have happened one of two ways, one of those senior people leaving decided to make a splash or someone low level was able to get unauthorized access. Neither of those looks good for Twitter.
Jack Dorsey, the CEO, sent out e-mails last night. We obtained those e-mails. He said we're taking steps to try to figure out how this happened. He sent out another e-mail a couple hours later that said, you know, we have some work to do.
I think that's an understatement. I think this is an incredibly big deal a rogue employee was able to basically take off a world leader from their platform for 11 minutes.
BOLDUAN: And it brings a whole bunch of more questions that I think are very serious --