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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump Threatens Comey, Suggest Secret Tapes Exist; WH Won't Confirm If Trump-Comey Recording Exist; Dems Demand Trump Turns Over Any Comey "Tapes"; Dems Float Impeachment Over Trump's Firing Of Comey; Clapper Contradicts Trump On Evidence Of Russia Collusion; Amid Comey Saga, Trump Announces Voter Fraud Panel; Aired 7:00-8p ET
Aired May 12, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
May 12, 2017
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Next breaking news, the president of the United States hinting he may have secret tapes of Jim Comey. Does he have them or is this a total bluff? Plus a former top intelligence official says there could be evidence of collusion between the Trump team and Russia. New details this evening. And the man who hand delivered that letter to fire Comey. Who is Trump's long-time bodyguard Keith Schiller? Let's go OutFront. And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OutFront, the breaking news, the tale of the tape. The president of the United States tonight suggesting he may have secret recordings of conversations between himself and the former FBI Director James Comey. Trump upping the ante in the Donald Trump versus Jim Comey battle just moments ago making this provocative remark.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS HOST: What about the idea that in a tweet you said that there might be tape recordings?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That, I can't talk about. I won't talk about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Well, the thing is he's the one who started this whole thing. I mean, he started it with a tweet, frankly, a threatening tweet from this morning in which he wrote, "James Comey better hope that there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press." Now the White House refuses to address the tape issue while denying Trump made a threat. Watch the exchange yourself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did President Trump record his conversations with former FBI Director Comey?
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I assume you're referring to the tweet. And I've talked to the president, the president has nothing further to add on that. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did he say that? Why did he tweet that?
What should we interpret from that?
SPICDER: As I mentioned, the president has nothing further to add on that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are there recording devices in the Oval Office or in the resident?
SPICER: As I said for the third time, there is nothing further to add on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Well, tonight, democrats are demanding any Comey-related recordings. From republicans tonight, a very loud silence. Let's begin with Sara Murray who's OutFront at the White House. And Sara, let's start with the big question here. The president putting this out here. He's the one who started it. No one would have even thought of such thing. What secret tapes?
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, that is an excellent question. And of course, the White House isn't saying, they're not even saying whether these secret tapes actually do exist. And for a week, that was already filled with surprises and with the controversies, today was filled with even more.
President Trump firing off an apparent threat to the ousted FBI Director. Trump tweeting, "James Comey better hope there are no tapes of our conversations before he start leaking to the press." Trump's barbed warning coming at 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 recordings conversations in the White House.
TRUMP: 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: 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.
LESTER HOLT, NBC NIGHTLY NEWS ANCHOR: And did you ask him, am I under investigation?
TRUMP: I actually asked him, yes. I said, if it's possible, would you let me know am I under investigation? He said you are not under investigation.
MURRAY: 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.
TRUMP: A dinner was arranged. I think he asked for the dinner. And he wanted to stay on as the FBI head and I said, you know, I'll consider, we'll see what happens. MURRAY: But a source close to Comey disputes that account. Saying
Comey did not request the dinner and had already been reassured by the president that 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 of this as the administration struggles to get its story straight about why the president ultimately decided to fire Comey.
After administration dishes, essentially 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 Russia investigation when he made the decision. Trump took to Twitter to explain the discrepancies. 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. Amid all of this, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer returned to the podium today after spending parts of the week at the Pentagon on naval reserve duty.
SPICER: OK. It's good to be back with you. Apparently I was a little missed.
MURRAY: Now, after what was no doubt a very frustrating week for this White House communications shop, the president raised a new idea today. Maybe he'll just end those press briefings all together and do press conferences of his own. Erin?
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Sara. And more breaking news at this hour. Top democrats on Capitol Hill are now trying to call the president's bluff over his tweet about possible recordings of Comey. Manu Raju is OutFront. And Manu, what are democrats calling for now?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, Erin, Several top democrats say that the White House preserved any recordings that may have occurred with President Trump. Dianne Feinstein, the top senate democrat on the judiciary committee saying that it's a "Very serious matter too. House democrats Elijah Cummings and John Conyers say that it's a crime to possibly intimidate a potential witness give -- from giving their testimony, suggesting a threat may have actually been an attempt to intimidate James Comey.
And earlier today, Erin, I talked to Mark Warner, the top senate democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and this is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: First we ever heard about this was today in tweetage. So, if the tapes exists, it would be very disturbing if suddenly it may disappeared. So, let's get them preserved and then let's make sure -- and it may not even be the Intel Committee's jurisdiction. It may be more judiciary or whomever jurisdiction it is, we ought to at some point get a look at them.
(END VIDEO CLIP) RAJU: And Erin, that last reference in regards to whether or not this
will be part of the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russia and the Trump campaign, Warner is saying there, maybe it will be and maybe it's something another committee will look. But I did talk to the top republican on the Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, asked him if he had any concerns about those communications between Trump and Comey. He said, "it's not in my scope," meaning it's something perhaps the intelligence committee here on Capitol Hill will not look at, Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Manu. Thank you very much. And OutFront now, the democratic congressman from New York, Jerry Nadler, a member of the House Judiciary Committee. And Congressman, I appreciate you're coming back in the program. Your colleagues are demanding Trump a hand over any recordings. What's your bottom line here? Do you think the president actually taped these conversations with the then- FBI Director or is this a bluff?
REP. JERRY NADLER, (D) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, I don't know if he taped those conversations. If he did, those tapes are -- the Nixon precedent, the court precedent says those tapes are the property of the government, it must not be destroyed and should be turned over.
BURNETT: So, sources close to Comey say that -- on these tapes, there is no such tape that we're aware of, but if there were a tape, they say what you would hear is Trump asking Comey for a personal pledge of loyalty over this inner. Now, this is something that Comey says he refused to do. Now, the president has no evidence of any tapes instead he has come out and responded to Comey with this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don't think it would be a bad question to ask. I think loyalty to the country, loyalty to the United States is important. You know, I mean, it depends on how you define loyalty. Number one. Number two, I don't know how it got there, because I didn't ask that question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So Congressman, Comey said Trump asked for a personal pledge of loyalty, Trump says he didn't and then, you know, it was more of a loyalty to the country. Is it possible the FBI Director Comey misunderstood?
NADLER: I doubt it. Remember we're dealing in the president with a cereal liar who's lied on just about everything and whose administration just lied about the reason that why Comey was fired. He sent out to the vice president and others just say he was fired because of his conduct with respect to Secretary Clinton last year. And now he says, no he was thinking -- he was thinking of firing him before. And because of that -- Rod Rosentsein, the deputy attorney general wrote a memo about criticizing his conduct with respect to Clinton last year and that's why he was fired. And now he says, no, no, I was -- I was thinking of firing him before that.
NADLER: So asking for a loyalty of the FBI, which is supposed to be independent especially when he -- when he just admitted that he was thinking of firing Comey essentially because of the Russian investigation, those two things combined make a very strong case for the president having committed to the obstruction of justice. And that's got to be investigated.
BURNETT: So, I want to ask you about this obstruction of justice. So, you're saying a strong case for that. Now, the acting director of the FBI just yesterday was asked this question, right? As to whether Trump had basically interfered in any way with the investigation. Marco will be the last to question and let me play for you the exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R-FL) INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Has the dismissal of Mr. Comey in any way impeded, interrupted, stopped, or negatively impacted any of the work, any investigation or any ongoing projects at the Federal Bureau of Investigation?
ANDRE MCCABE, ACTING DIRECTOR, FBI: The work of the men and women of the FBI continues. There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So do you believe the acting director of the FBI? Because if you take that answer at its face, that would mean there was no o obstruction of justice from this president.
NADLER: Well, first of all, I believe that was said before it was known that the president had -- asked for loyalty from Comey and -- which is highly improper to ask for loyalty from the justice department or the FBI. They're supposed to be loyal to the constitution, not loyal to the president (INAUDIBLE) when he's investigating allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, to ask for loyalty from him is to ask that he compromise the investigation. Highly improper.
And when he did that and when he subsequently fired Comey, according to his own admission because he didn't like the way he was handling these investigations and the way he was testifying about them, that raises a very serious concern about obstruction of justice -- about obstructing that investigation.
BURNETT: So then, how far are you willing to take it? Some of your democratic colleagues have talked about this very issue and they are willing to say what obstruction of justice means and what obstruction of justice could mean if it really happened, right? If the people could push with impeachment proceedings and some of your colleagues about this. Here they are.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, (D) CONNECTICUT: It may well produce
impeachment proceedings, although we're very far from that possibility.
REP. MAXINE WALTERS, (D) CALIFORNIA: We're fiddling while Rome is burning. This president needs to be impeached.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Do you think she went too far?
NALDER: I think it's a little too early for that. I think it's certainly the case that if this obstruction of justice possibility is investigated, if a question of why -- of whether Comey was fired because he was conducting an investigation, we may very well come to the conclusion that impeachment proceedings are necessary or we may not. It's too early to answer that but we need an active investigation and I now think that it is time for the -- my republican colleagues who up to now have been shirking their duty to look into this, who have been defending the administration and defending the indefensible really.
It's time for some of them to step up to the plate and start investigating. And I must say some of my republican colleagues on the judiciary committee have in the past shown that they can put loyalty to country above loyalty to party and it's time they did so right now.
BURNETT: Before we go. I must ask you this though. In the memo from the deputy A.G., Rosenstein, right? He said Jim Comey should be fired based on his handling of the Clinton e-mail investigation, you point out, Trump is now admitting that Russia was why Trump was going to do it and Trump was going to do it regardless of what Rosenstein said. But it doesn't change the fact, Congressman, does it? That Rosenstein came to the conclusion Comey should be fired based on the Clinton e- mails. Rosenstein is a guy --
NADLER: Well, first of all --
BURNETT: -- who was confirmed 94-6 in the senate for his condition. That's significant, isn't it?
NADLER: Rosenstein did not say he should be fired, he criticize -- in his memo, I just reread his memo -- his letter rather, this morning to see that. He did not say that. He severely criticized Comey for how he handled the Clinton matter last year. I severely criticized Comey last year. Last year, I said Comey should be fired. But it was a different time and context to fire Comey now when he is conducting an investigation that might implicate the president is to compromise that investigation.
You cannot have the investigated or some who might be subject investigation prior to the investigated that certainly looks like an obstruction of justice and looks like it's interfering with the investigation. And the president essentially said that.
BURNETT: Congressman, thank you for your time. NADLER: You're welcome.
BURNETT: And next, the breaking news. Does the deputy attorney general think the Russia probe calls for a special prosecutor? He's speaking tonight. Plus, the White House announcing a commission to investigate Trump's voter fraud claims. Where is the evidence? Can you believe we're asking this question again? Well, the man in- charge to that commission is going to come OutFront. And west side story. Was that Sean Spicer on a power trip outside CNN today?
BURNETT: Breaking news. The White House on the defense after the former director of National Intelligence James Clapper pushed back President Trump's claim that there's no evidence his campaign colluded with Russia. Clapper today leaving the door open
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) .
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I don't know if there was collusion or not. I don't know if there's evidence of collusion or not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Pamela Brown is OutFront live in Washington. And Pamela, I mean, this has become a real embroil over here and the whole situation of what Clapper said before what he's saying now. What is the bottom line?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the bottom line is that James Clapper is saying that he hasn't seen all the evidence in this investigation that the FBI is doing, looking at Russian interference in the election and possible coordination with Trump campaign associates. But what's causing all this confusion is that initially a couple of months ago he said that before he left he had seen no evidence of collusion. And of course, the White House pounced on that.
President Trump pounced on that, tweeted about it even you pointed out, as recently as today saying that this is a witch hunt because James Clapper and others have said there is no evidence of collusion. So basically, James Clapper tried to clarify that today by saying as head of the DNI he would not have seen all the evidence in the investigation because that would be in the FBI's hands. He said he say that he saw some evidence but it didn't rise to the standard to include it in that big report that was compiled on Russia back in January.
So, basically, it's different from what the White House is claiming in their argument that this is really nothing. This is just a witch hunt.
BURNETT: And so Pamela, you also have some breaking news tonight in -- from the man really at the center of the -- BROWN: Yes.
BURNETT: -- whole situation with Jim Comey which is the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the special prosecutor which we know a lot of democrats have weighed in saying they want it. Even a few republicans. What's he saying?
BROWN: So our colleague Evan Perez is told that -- through his sources that Rod Rosenstein has no plans right now, Erin, despite this growing pressure on him to appoint a special prosecutor to do so because he feels like there's really no need to. You know, of course he's become sort of the central figure in the controversy surrounding James Comey's firing because he wrote that memo but he sees this all unrelated to the Russia probe.
Dana Boente who oversees the national security division of DOJ is really the one who's overseeing it. And so he's going to sort of let him do his thing. And if for some reason this investigation is imperiled, then he might, you know, appoint someone to be a special prosecutor but no plans now as of now, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Pamela. And OutFront now, former republican congressman, Jack Kingston of Georgia, Juliette Kayyem, former assistant secretary for the Department of Homeland and Security, and Jeffrey Toobin, our senior legal analyst. So, Congressman, let me start with you at the heart of this, right? The former director of National Intelligence, James Clapper. You know, he had at one point come out and said he had seen no evidence of collusion, but he's now coming out and saying let me be clear.
That means, I didn't see any, it doesn't mean that there is any, there's a lot of things that I haven't. You just heard him say that. But the president is saying -- Jim Clapper is saying there's no collusion, there's no there there. What do you say?
JACK KINGSTON, FORMER UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN: Well, I think number one. Clapper has been very careful at what he says. I frankly don't know why he's doing interviews to begin with but I think he's trying to stay noncommittal because he's seen what's happened to his friend James Comey. But I think the other thing that we all have to ask is that, it has been eight months of an intense investigation fueled by very, very strong anti-Trump sentiments and there hasn't been one shred of evidence yet.
So far this is a hearsay and a lot of talk. But I think at this point, the critics owe it to the investigation and to the public to say here's what we know happened. And they don't have a single thing. They haven't produced one product -- one piece of product yet.
BURNETT: Is that fair, Jeffrey, at this point?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, we're talking about a bunch -- a bunch of different things here. I mean, James Clapper supervises as director of National Intelligence, the CIA, the National Security Agency, other agencies. He does not supervise the FBI, the Department of Justice. The investigation of this possible collusion was at the Department of Justice and the FBI. So the fact that he doesn't know what they found is a very little -- is a very little significance. He doesn't know the facts.
As for whether an investigation can proceed, what -- I mean, or what it's produced, you know, it's a complicated investigation. A lot of evidence has to be collected. There -- most of the key people have not testified yet before a grand jury. So to say the fact that, you know, we don't have a smoking gun at this point, you know --
TOOBIN: -- that's just -- that's not how investigations work.
BURNETT: So, let me ask you, Juliette because there are some who say, well, look, if there was a smoking gun at this point, it would have leaked, it would have leaked somehow because there are leaks as in in any investigation, there are a lot of them in this one. So do you buy that? Do you think that that would indicate that there isn't one or do you think no, that this is really proceeding and frankly it might be a bit plodding and a bit methodical but they may not even fully know themselves yet.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I think this whole mythology of a smoking gun is what we have to get out of our heads. The idea that a case is complicated as this which may not get to collusion but may get to sort of financial wheeling, dealing or other aspects of maybe either criminal or just corrupt behavior. Those take a long time to create and to find and you want to do it methodically because you want it to hold up in court.
I think this pace has been relatively sort of normal. I don't know why people like Jack or sort of -- oh, there's nothing yet. You have to show -- you have to show your hand. That's not how investigations work.
KINGSTON: Well, I'll give you an example.
KAYYEM: And so -- wait, wait, wait. Jack, let me just finish here. So look, there is -- there's real stuff going on. This is not innuendo. Grand juries are meeting, right? Subpoenas have been issued. The idea that this is just a mythology of the New York Times, it's just not true.
KINGSTON: Well, let me give you a comparison.
KAYYEM: It is -- actually real things are happening in this investigation.
KINGSTON: Let me give you a comparison of the Obama scandals, first of all, Hillary Clinton's e-mail, secondly, fast and furious and then Benghazi and then the IRS. There was something there. There were -- there were apparent crimes, there were as apparent tragedies. There was harm done. We don't know anything done.
TOOBIN: That is most ridiculous lie of all.
KINGSTON: Did Russia interfere? Did Russia attest to interfere?
TOOBIN: Hold on a second. You know, hold it, hold it.
KINGSTON: The collusion is -- the collusion is just driven by anti- Trump hatred. What would really be great is for the Trump critics to at least have one witness who said, you know what? I was compromised and here's why and here's when.
BURNETT: Go ahead.
TOOBIN: What a series of bogus scandals that produced absolutely nothing.
TOOBIN: The way the republicans exploited the death of these poor people and spent millions of --
KINGSTON: A hard --
TOOBIIN: Let me finish. That spent millions of dollars, far more than congress has spent on this investigation, that is the real atrocity of Benghazi is that you and your colleagues exploited their deaths to no end.
KINGSTON: -- lying on five different networks, the Sunday after, lying to the American people officially as the White House spokesperson.
BURNETT: Can we get back to -- can we get back to Trump? Can we get just back to Trump because I think it's --
KINGSTON: If you're more comfortable talking about Trump than Obama but Obama scandal were real.
KAYYEM: He's the president of -- excuse me, Jack. He's the president of the United States whose campaign is under investigation.
KINGSTON: Obama was at the time, that's correct.
KAYYEM: So, Jack, so, it is possible looking at this week that the -- that the Trump people, because there's so much madness going on with this spokesperson and that spokesperson that the -- that the way they do things is somewhat incompetent but that actually what Trump is doing is quite strategic. After this week, if you look at who has been fired, Sally Yates, Preet Bharara from New York and now Comey, that seems to me to be very strategic.
Now you can say that's just Trump trying to move forward. But nonetheless, those of us who look at it from the outside say, that's really odd that all three major prosecutors are now no longer working. And so if it turns outs that these prosecutions can continue and that these investigations do continue, it may not get to collusion, Jack. I have never said collusion. It may not get there, but let it unfold as it ought to. You're a lawyer, I'm a lawyer, Jeff is a lawyer. We know these things take a long time.
KINGSTON: Actually, I'm not. But I'm kind of hanging with you guys. Let me say this. We just heard --
KAYYEM: You work in a law firm.
KINGSTON: We just heard Director McCabe say that nothing is changed in the investigation without Comey. Now, I think that's very important. I, you know, I can go with you on the firing of Comey. I see you have reason for being concerned. But frankly, the firing and the dismissal of Sally Yates, it was fuel for subordination. So, I mean, I don't think that one is connected at all.
KINGSTON: I can't go with you there. I understand where you are on Comey.
BURNETT: All right. We'll leave it there for now. Thank you both -- all, sorry, three.
KAYYEM: Thank you.
BURNETT: Two lawyers and Congressman Kingston. Trump now acting on his bogus voter fraud claims. Tonight, the man he picked to investigate, a man who said more than a million people voted illegally. He is going to come OutFront and take the questions next. And Trump supporters weighing in on the Comey firing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he'd be better served if he were more presidential.
BURNETT: Tonight, President Trump moving forward on his attempt to prove his claim that millions voted illegally in the 2016 election. The president signing an executive order creating the presidential advisory commission on election integrity and pointing the Kansas Secretary of State, Chris Kobach to help head up that effort. But is there any proof or is this yet another distraction from the president? Tom Foreman is OutFront.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Despite her electoral walloping, the facts say Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by about three million but not the way Donald Trump tweeted it. I have won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.
So, right after the inauguration, he said: I will be asking for a major investigation into voter fraud, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal.
TRUMP: We are going to protect the integrity of the ballot box and we are going to defend the votes of the American citizen.
FOREMAN: Never mind that credible evidence of even small scale fraud is extremely rare. Never mind that someone in his own party opposed the effort.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: There's no evidence that it occurred in such a significant number that would have changed the presidential election and I don't think we ought to spend any federal money investigating that.
FOREMAN: Those who believe in rampant fraud often cite this research paper suggesting noncitizens may vote heavily enough sometimes to change results, but that paper's analysis has been strongly criticized by other experts.
There is a respected Pew report saying millions of voters are registered in more than one state but the author says that's mainly a problem of sloppy recordkeeping.
DAVID BECKER, CENTER FOR ELECTION INNOVATION & RESEARCH: There's a big leap between an out of date record and administrative inefficiency on the list and the act of voter fraud.
TRUMP: Excuse me. Then why did you write the report?
FOREMAN: Nonetheless, leading the president's new commission will be Vice President Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, an unabashed advocate for voting identification laws, and a man who says he's caught people voting in his state and another at the same time.
KRIS KOBACH (R), KANSAS SECRETARY OF STATE: My office prosecutes it. I've just got that prosecutorial authority a year and a half ago. We've already filed nine cases and we have six guilty pleas.
FOREMAN: That may not sound like much, but he thinks a lot more could be found. Indeed he has fully backed the president's unsubstantiated claim that millions of illegal votes may have been cast last fall and now, he'll have a chance to prove it -- Erin.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Tom Foreman, thank you very much.
And OUTFRONT now, the vice chair of President Trump's Commission on Election Integrity, Kris Kobach, the secretary of state of Kansas.
And I appreciate you coming on the show, sir.
So, I want to understand here. The president, of course, promised to investigate voter fraud in the election. We just -- you just saw that there in Tom's piece. This executive order makes it clear he is keeping his promise.
But as you know, there is no evidence this is anything but a wild goose chase at this point. Why are you doing it?
KRIS KOBACH, VICE CHAIRMAN, PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON ELECTION INTEGRITY: Well, I want to correct a few things. The purpose of the commission, if you read the executive order, is not to substantiate or debunk or investigate President Trump's statements from January. The purpose of the commission is to get at all the facts that are available and present them to the public. You know, there's never actually been a nationwide effort to look at this scope of provable voter fraud.
So, for example, we have -- we're now up to nine convictions in the last year and ten months in Kansas. And other states prosecute voter fraud. The total number, there's a website that the Heritage Foundation has, it's over 700. And those are just convictions.
But that's just one little piece of the factual puzzle. And so, the purpose of the commission is just to present the facts. And some people will probably look at the numbers and say, eh, that's not enough to concern me. Another people will probably look at the numbers and say that does concern them.
But why wouldn't we want to look at the numbers?
BURNETT: So, let me ask you this, though, because the president, as you know, has said he would have won the popular vote, if it weren't for massive voter fraud. You heard him say that a moment ago, which would mean more than 3 million fraudulent votes across the country. You yourself just mentioned nine convictions in the states of Kansas.
Just so people know, you have 1,788,673 registered voters. So, that's nine convictions in your state in the past two years. You think there's 3 million more in the rest of the country?
KOBACH: Well, the interesting is when you look at the number of convictions and this is one thing we've discovered since gaining prosecutorial power -- when you discover a case of someone who has, for example, one of the convictions was for a person who was a noncitizen who voted multiple times in Kansas, you discover that case, most of the cases we discover, it's more than five years after the person committed the crime. And so, it's too late because of the statue of limitations to bring a prosecution.
And then, on top of that, there are so many more cases that you can't discover because you don't have any outside evidence to show that the individual is non-citizen.
BURNETT: But you're saying -- OK, so you take that at face value --
KOBACH: So, when you look at the number of prosecutions --
BURNETT: -- but you're saying nine conviction over two years, three or four or five years ago, you're saying that went up to tens of thousands? I mean, just the magnitude we'd be talking about here is exponential for what the president alleged to even remotely be true.
KOBACH: Right. And the commission is just going to go where the facts lead us, who knows what the total numbers will be and whether they will substantiate what the president said in January or not. But the point is, why wouldn't we want to collect as much data as possible, put that data out there, let experts look at it after the commission has presented it, let people draw their own conclusions.
[19:35:05] You know, I find some of the early criticism from today from some people who say we shouldn't have this commission, I find it puzzling. Why -- so you're someone who thinks that voter fraud is not an issue in America. Well, then, why wouldn't you want the commission to get out there and show what numbers are available and then, you can say, look, I was right. The numbers aren't big enough.
BURNETT: Maybe because there's limited resources, right, to spend to look into these things. I mean, you know, there was one report on voter fraud. I know you're familiar with it, of course, Secretary. The Brennan Center. They found voter fraud rates of .0003 percent and .0025 percent. These numbers are stunningly low.
You heard Mitch McConnell there a moment ago and he's not the only Republican who says this is a complete waste of time and money. Here are some others.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I've seen no evidence to that effect, and I've made that very, very clear.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: There's no evidence of that and I think those who alleged that have to come up with some substantiation of their claim.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I would urge the president to knock this off.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BURNETT: Secretary, why do you think it is worth your time and resources, given these statistics, given others in your own party saying that it isn't?
KOBACH: OK, couple of things. One is the amount of money spent studying this is pretty miniscule. They're not hiring people in the federal government. They're people being detailed from different agencies to help the commissioners. We commissioners are not getting any salary to participate. It's a voluntary.
And there is a lot of evidence. So, for example, in my state of Kansas, I can speak to what we know in Kansas. We have identified 125 specific noncitizens that we can identify by name who have either registered -- successfully registered to vote or have attempted to register after we put our proof of citizenship law in place.
So, that's a significant number. And that's just Kansas. So when people say there's no evidence, I say, well, obviously, those people haven't reading the newspapers, haven't been looking at the very significant numbers that just my little state has provided.
Now, I don't know about the other 49 states. Maybe there's no voter fraud at all in the other 49, or maybe there is.
BURNETT: So --
KOBACH: But why wouldn't we want to find that out?
BURNETT: So, it's interesting. You know, people -- a lot of people will say the issue here though, Secretary, is actually not about voter fraud. It's really about voter suppression. In your own state, the ACLU points that your own expert, that you had put north in a case that they have is that 6 percent of the voter pool in Kansas is African-American. They are -- represent though 18 percent of the people in your state who lacked I.D. that might be required if you went ahead with voter fraud wanted greater I.D.s. People who don't have a birth certificate or a passport.
A study by the University of California and Bucknell had in states with strict voter I.D. laws, that turnout dropped significantly from minorities, but doesn't change at all for whites. Hispanics are down 7 percent in strict voter I.D. states compared to others. Do you acknowledge that voter I.D. laws can suppress minority votes?
KOBACH: I will say that in Kansas, the evidence is strongly to the contrary, because that's been the subject of our litigation with the ACLU and the ACLU is an opposing party in court right now and they have mischaracterized the statement that you just made about them, suggesting that there was disproportionate effect on African- Americans.
Look, in Kansas, for example, we put our photo I.D. law in place in 2012. So, if you want to test the effect on participation, you look at the 2010 election and the 2014, which we did. In the rest of the country, participation dropped severely between 2012 and 2014. In our neighboring states, it dropped severely. But in Kansas, it stayed flat, which suggested that Kansas was doing better over that period with the voter participation --
BURNETT: And can you say that with minorities in Kansas specifically?
KOBACH: We have found no evidence that there was a disproportionate effect on minorities. Again, the effect was positive. But there's no evidence that minorities were unable to present the photo I.D. or unable go to a government office and get a free one.
And indeed, I find that argument almost racist when you suggest that a person's skin color affects his or her ability to carry an I.D. in a purse or wallet or go get a free one. It's a baffling argument. And I don't see at least in my state the facts to support it.
Now, maybe there is evidence in other states. And that's one of the things the commission will be looking at, too. This argument about voter depression or suppression of voter rates will also be something we'll look at. So, we'll see where the facts point.
BURNETT: All right. Secretary Kobach, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
KOBACH: Thank you.
BURNETT: Next, fallout from firing combing. Trump voters, here's what they think.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After a couple of years, if nothing gets done and it's drama all the time, I don't think he'll have many supporters left.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Plus, Trump's long-time bodyguard, the same man who kicked Jorge Ramos out of a news conference hand-delivered that letter that fired Comey. Who is Heath Schiller?
[19:43:37] BURNETT: Breaking news at this hour: we are learning four people will be interviewed tomorrow for the FBI director job. They are Alice Fisher, the assistant attorney general under President George W. Bush, Andrew McCabe, who, of course, is the current acting FBI director, Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas, and Judge Michael Garcia of the New York Court of Appeals.
The question, though, is whether Trump supporters back the president on his dramatic firing of Jim Comey.
We went to the field with Ed Lavandera.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pick up trucks sell well.
HENRY LEWIS, BUSINESS OWNER: Pick up trucks, this is Texas country.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): For more than 50 years, Henry Lewis has sold Chevy cars and trucks in Canton, Texas.
(on camera): You wrote this book for --
LEWIS: For the grandkids.
LAVANDERA: It's full of life lessons, right? (voice-over): But in his spare time, he wrote a book with short life
lessons for his grand daughter and he says page 10 can help explain a lot these days, especially Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey.
TRUMP: He's a showboat. He's a grandstander.
LAVANDERA (on camera): If your presentation is on a 6th grade level, it will be understood, read, listened to and appreciated. That's kind of fitting.
You think Donald Trump has mastered that?
LEWIS: I think Donald Trump would agree with that? You know, we may mail him a book.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Lewis still strongly supports Trump. He's not bothered by the president's tweet seeming to threaten Comey. But Lewis acknowledges some of Trump's antics are starting to wear thin.
[19:45:002] LEWIS: It bothers me a little bit.
LAVANDERA (on camera): Yes?
LEWIS: I think he would be better served if he'd more presidential, if he'd take the high road and more presidential.
LAVANDERA (on camera): But your faith in him is -- still solid?
LEWIS: Yes, that's great. He's a businessman and that's what the country needs and I voted for him and I'd vote for him began.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Canton, Texas, sits in the heart of Van Zandt County, the antique shopping capital of the world where Donald Trump won 85 percent of the vote. As we wandered around town, we found support still runs strong.
Carol Sossaman runs her own antique shop and this exchange with her offered unique insight to why Trump's most ardent supporters haven't lost faith.
(on camera): With all the crazy headlines we've seen here over the last few months, if you replaced the name Trump and you put in Hillary or Obama, do you think his supporters would have the same reaction? Kind of dismissing things like the Russia investigation?
CAROL SOSSAMAN, BUSINESS OWNER: No.
LAVANDERA: Questions about taxes?
SOSSAMAN: No. No. No. Because -- there's so much hope with Trump being in office. I think that's what drives people to believe in him because he's a businessman. He gets stuff done. That's a proven fact.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Sossaman voted for President Obama in 2008, didn't vote in 2012 and then voted for Trump. She says the clock is ticking. And that Trump supporters can handle the drama as long as work gets done on issues like health care. Is that a sign there's a crack in Trump's armor?
SOSSAMAN: But after a couple of years, if nothing gets done and it's drama all the time, I don't think he'll have many supporters left.
LAVANDERA: Donald Trump's act might not seem presidential to even some of his supporters, but in the antique shops of this East Texas town, the act hasn't gotten old. Yet.
LAVANDERA: And, Erin, we're going to bring it back to Henry Lewis's children's book. On one of the pages it said when he elected to an office if you're unsure if it's a conflict of interest, ask a second grader. You have to maintain a zero tolerance for conflict of interest. That's where it gets kind of muddy when you talk to Trump supporters. You know, we talked to a couple of ladies in a print shop here in town in Canton, they said last year one of their most popular signs was a "lock Hillary Clinton" sign up.
So, it really is in the words of one voter here, people just don't care about these types of issues, the daily drama when it comes to Donald Trump.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. Signs that one day will be antiques. And they're in the right place.
All right. OUTFRONT, Mark Preston, our senior political analyst.
Mark here's the thing, 46 percent of the Americans disapprove of the firing of Comey, 39 percent approve. Those are the numbers. You heard Ed talking to people. They're frustrated but they are still giving him a leash there. Those people, 85 percent in that town are still supporting Trump.
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. A couple of things. One is we were only at the 100-day mark. So, he hasn't been in office long enough for his supporters to abandon him at this point. He still has time to try to do all the things that he said he was going to do, mainly create jobs.
However, let's look at public polling at the next week or so. Not about the firing of Comey but the handling of the communications strategy following the firing of Comey, because I do think you're going to see an erosion even more so, Erin, in the coming weeks.
BURNETT: And, quickly, whites voters without college degrees, core group for Donald Trump. They had a 57 percent approval rating in April. That's now down to 47 percent. So, very pretty big drop.
PRESTON: Pretty big drop, and part of that is because this erosion on very key traits, such as honesty. Do you care about average Americans? Also, is President Trump level headed? We're also seeing a drop on two key signature issues. The economy and as well as terrorism, he is now in negative territory on both. BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Mark Preston.
And next, he's been by Donald Trump's side for nearly two decades. Even in this access Hollywood video with Billy Bush. Who is Trump's bodyguard and why was he the one who hand delivered Comey's waking papers?
And power trip. Get out of her way. "Saturday Night Live" star driving through.
[19:51:54] BURNETT: Tonight, the man who delivered perhaps the most important letter of Trump's presidency, the letter firing the FBI director, Keith Schiller. He's the president's former bodyguard and now, the director of Oval Office operations.
And, you know, I've seen him many times over the years, always by Trump's side. And if you look closely, you'll see his near constant presence, for the better part of two decades.
Athena Jones is OUTFRONT.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It may be the most pivotal moment in a presidency still in its infancy, captured by CNN cameras. President Trump's long-time aide Keith Schiller leaving the FBI after hand-delivering the letter terminating FBI Director James Comey.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Today, President Donald J. Trump informed FBI Director James Comey that he has been terminated.
JONES: An act that put the former New York detective usually in the background, front and center. The shy father of two that once served in the Navy, joined the Trump organization as a part-time bodyguard in 1999.
KEITH SCHILLER, DIRECTOR OF OVAL OFFICE OPERATIONS: So, it started as a side gig, you know. I had a great rapport with Mr. Trump and I still enjoy that. I have a great relationship.
JONES: He spoke about being hired in a Facebook interview with a high school friend, Rich Siegel, last year.
SCHILLER: He says, we'll give you one more. And if you work out well with Mr. Trump, you stay. And if it doesn't work out well, you have to, you know, (INAUDIBLE)
JONES: The two men did mesh. And Schiller was eventually named head of security in 2005.
He now serves as Trump's director of Oval Office Operations, a catch all title. He is one of Trump's most trusted aides and plays multiple roles for a president who prizes loyalty. SCHILLER: You know, I have nothing but good things to say about him.
JONES: Frequently spotted by Trump's side, the imposing 6'4" Schiller often provided muscle for the president during campaign rallies.
TRUMP: Come on, Keith. Go. Get them out.
SCHILLER: What I have done over the years, you know, I'm no stranger to put my hands on people.
JONES: Even if it creates controversy. A protester is suing Schiller and Trump after Schiller punched him outside Trump Tower in 2015.
TRUMP: Sit down, you weren't called.
JONES: And he kicked Univision anchor Jorge Ramos out of a press conference in Iowa in the summer of 2015 for trying repeatedly to ask Trump about immigration.
And while Schiller is not interested in celebrity for his own right, he has found himself in the spotlight before, taking part in the stage altercation with Trump and wrestling promoter Vince McMahon in 2007, but he's not likely to be jumping in front of television cameras again any time soon.
SCHILLER: I know my role. My role isn't to be on camera.
JONES: Aides say Schiller has also become something of a sounding board for the president. They spend a lot of time together, and the president often bounced his ideas off of him. But I can't stress enough the presence of loyalty to this relationship.
[19:55:00] It helps explain why Schiller has been by Trump's side for nearly 20 years. He's known as fiercely loyal. That's something the president very much values and rewards -- Erin.
BURNETT: Absolutely. So many times, always been a very gracious person. So, those who interact with the president as well.
Thank you very much, Athena.
And next traffic stopper, this time not the president bringing things to a halt in Manhattan.
[19:58:05] BURNETT: Sean Spicer, or was it Melissa McCarthy buzzing on the move through the streets of Manhattan today. Here's Brian Stelter with a look.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Is the Trump administration making America laugh again? Or just making the press even more frustrated?
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has nothing further to add on that.
STELTER: A credibility crisis intensifying this week. And making late-night comics rewrite their scripts right up until air time.
MELISSA MCCARTHY AS SEAN SPICER: All right, any other questions?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, just mentally, though, are you okay?
MCCARTHY: Are you kidding me?
STELTER: Melissa McCarthy back this weekend, it's perfect timing for her to host "SNL," partly in character.
MCCARTHY: I came out here to punch you in the head, and also I don't talk so good.
STELTER: Today, the same day Sean Spicer returned to his real podium, McCarthy was on his Spicey regalia, whizzing down the streets of New York on her podium. "SNL" going the extra mile promoting her return.
One likely punch line: Spicer's impromptu press briefing among the bushes Tuesday night.
The internet's already had a field day with it. But just how long McCarthy will get to play Spicer is in question. His absence from the briefing room earlier this week stirring speculation about his future.
This as the president refuses to commit to keeping him.
TRUMP: He's doing a good job, but he gets beat up.
JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS: Will he be there tomorrow?
TRUMP: Yes. Well, he's been there from the beginning.
STELTER: For now, "SNL" fans are waiting for McCarthy's masterful impression.
MCCARTHY: You like that? You like that, dork? You like that, dork?
Brian Stelter, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: I can tell you today on the streets of New York, I saw the stunt double, which means there could be some really cool action shots. All right. Well, watch tomorrow night. Thanks for joining us.
Anderson is next.