Return to Transcripts main page
Interview with Rep. Chris Stewart; Report: Father Took Concert Bomber and Brother to Libya; First Lady's Style in Spotlight on Overseas Trip; Flynn Denies House Intel Request for Russia Docs. Aired 3:30-4pET
Aired May 24, 2017 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn is in a tug-of-war with both the Senate and house intelligence committees investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Flynn announced that he was taking the fifth on Monday refusing to provide documents to lawmakers that they say are critical to their investigations. The Senate intelligence committee leaders issued two new subpoenas to a pair of businesses that Flynn ran. Those businesses don't have the same protection and they are trying to get some of the information that way. The chairman, Richard Burr, is leaving open the possibility --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD BURR (R-NC), CHAIRMAN, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: At the end of that option is a contempt charge and I've said that everything is on the table. That's not our preference today. We would like to hear from general Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We would like him to tell his story because he publicly said I've got a story to tell. We're allowing him the opportunity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Republican Congressman Chris Stewart sits on the house permanent select committee and he's joining me now from Capitol Hill. Sir, I want to talk to you from Michael Flynn. First I want to ask you about something we're hearing from sources and that is that carter page, a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, is going to be testifying before the house intelligence committee. Can you confirm that for us?
REP. CHRIS STEWART R-UTAH: I don't know if I can confirm that. I can tell you that the witness list is fairly extensive. It's probably close to two dozen people. It probably won't surprise a lot of people if he's a confirmed witness but the actual confirmation and the timing, I really can't comment on that. Either way, we would look forward to hearing from him.
KEILAR: OK. We are hearing from sources and we're seeing other reports as well. I understand we'll wait for the official guidance on that. Back to Michael Flynn, so he is refusing to cooperate personally. He's refusing to go along with subpoenas for documents. What's the next move in the house?
STEWART: Yes. You know, I would never fault anyone for taking -- or pleading the fifth. We recognize that's a constitutional right to protect themselves and we've seen other people do that as well. I will take issue if he doesn't provide documents. I agree with Senator Burr it's probably appropriate to subpoena those documents. We want to complete this investigation. We want the American people to know what happened there. Whatever the outcomes will be for individuals, the American people need to know that and I would completely support that. Understanding how Mr. Flynn might take a personal exception, take the fifth and we will let he and his attorneys decide if that's the appropriate thing to do.
KEILAR: We know he had contact with the Russians as part of the Trump campaign. He was fired by President Trump for being dishonest for what he talked to the Russian ambassador about, the issue of sanctions before President Trump was in fact in the white house. So, if Flynn has something to tell, which it seems like he does, would your committee consider granting him immunity in order to hear that?
STEWART: That's a very technical legal issue and it would depend on the legal jeopardy he is facing but we want him to talk to us and to tell his story. This is a tragedy in a way because Mr. Flynn served his country so admirably so many years and with such integrity and like you said there's allegations of collusion but no evidence of that. What we have is him not being honest with the vice President, which is a very different thing than colluding with the Russians and we would hope he'd be able to tell his story. Whether we grant amnesty or immunity from that, I don't know. The lawyers would have to determine that. As a member of the community, we hope to learn it as quickly as we can.
KEILAR: Very good point. I want to ask you about something a little different. We know that President Trump revealed information that came to the U.S. from the Israelis. He revealed this to the Russians. Obviously, an adversary of the U.S. he talked about two nuclear submarines with the President of the Philippines also last month.
[15:35:00] It's been said that the President needs to be careful, that this is not the right kind of behavior when it comes to this information.
STEWART: The President does need to be careful, especially in his public comments. Now, he has the authority to reveal whatever information he feels is appropriate, as did President Obama, and we know he had some very tightly held secrets and classified information was revealed in certain circumstances because he felt that was appropriate. I wouldn't take that ability away from any President and, in some cases, too, here we are talking about leaks. It's like every day. It wouldn't surprise anyone to know that we have nuclear capable nuclear submarines in different parts of the world. The Atlantic, the Pacific. If it got more detailed than that, it would be classified. The intelligence committee is aware of the information that's been shared. Our partnership with them is so strong and the intelligence sharing between the two of us is so persuasive and beneficial and, finally, let's remember, Mr. Tillerson, other person who was there, they were adamant in saying nothing inappropriate was revealed.
KEILAR: They said sources and methods were not discussed, which certainly that wasn't the issue that was brought up. I do want to ask you something real quick. You said that the President has the discretion to reveal something if it's deemed appropriate. From the descriptions, we're getting of how these were revealed, it doesn't seem like that's part of the calculation. He was, in a way, inadvertently revealing this information. Are you concerned with the no nonchalance the President has dealt with this information?
STEWART: In fairness, I have to be honest about that. As a member of the intelligence committee, I'm so careful. I'm in the back of my mind saying, be careful what you say, be careful. I think the President owes that same type of discretion. Again, in fairness to him, we don't know for sure the context or the details but if there was stuff said, as he said fairly nonchalantly, that's something that endeared him to people, so honest, so abrupt in some cases and just speaking from the heart but you've got to draw that line as well when it comes to very sensitive information. You have to put a fence around that and maybe filter that in a way that you don't have to filter when you're talking about politics or other maybe domestic policy.
KEILAR: It is a major responsibility knowing that information. Congressman Stewart, thank you so much for lending your insight joining us from Capitol Hill.
STEWART: You bet. Good to be with you. Thank you.
KEILAR: Great to have you.
And breaking now, new police raids in Manchester as the investigation continues into the concert bombing. Residents are reporting that they hear explosions.
We're also getting word that the suspect's brother has been arrested. We're going to take to you Manchester, live.
[15:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KEILAR: All right. We have breaking news on that deadly pop concert bombing in Manchester, England. The father of the concert bomber reportedly took both of his sons to Libya about a month ago trying to keep them out of trouble in Manchester. A family friend is telling CNN that the brothers were causing problems in Manchester. They were seeking revenge for a friend who had been killed by a gang. That is from a family friend telling CNN that. The brother of the concert bomber is now accused of planning his own attack in Libya. Back in the UK, five people are in custody in connection with the bombing. The level of threat is at critical. That means more attacks could be imminent. I want to bring in Atika Shubert who is live for us. You are near the sites of the raids. What can you tell us?
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the most recent raid, a little more than an hour ago, residents here heard an explosion. A lot of them came out to see what was going on. What eyewitnesses are telling us is that they saw a large number of armed and masked policemen moving into that building. They also have specialized equipment for mobile phone jamming. This is the same pattern we've seen in three other locations where police come in and often there's an explosion to gain access into the area to try and do a search and bring the specialized equipment to shut down mobile phone service in this limited area. That prevents detonation and also service in general. We don't know yet if this location, how it is linked, if it is linked to the ongoing terror investigation but it does fit that pattern. What we also know is that in total now, four people in the UK have been arrested. Three of them yesterday and also an extra person picked up in Wigan. It's clear now that it's not just one man that carried out the attack but a network.
KEILAR: All right. A network. Atika reporting for us there in Manchester, England.
President Trump has already arrived in Brussels for the next leg of his international trip. The first lady has been along for the ride. She hasn't spoken publicly yet and yet Melania Trump is making all kinds of statements. We will discuss that next.
[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KEILAR: Melania Trump's sense of style is no secret. After all, she was a successful model. But all eyes are on her fashion sense now that she's first lady. She wore a modest black coat dress by Dulce Gabbana coupled with a black laced veil. In Brussels, a little more color with this Michael Kors dress. Joining me is Kate Bennett, we also have Mary Alice Stephenson, founder of Glam for Good. She knows Melania Trump personally. Kate, I want to start with you. We've heard people say, why are you talking about clothes? These are not just clothes. This is a communication of statement. Tell us a little bit about what Melania Trump has been communicating and what she's been wearing.
KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I mean, she's packed a bag for each stop on the trip. These aren't just clothes but messages she owes sending. Knew when she got off the plane in the black flowing Stella McCartney and similar to the robes that traditional Muslim women wear. She accented with that gold belt, so right away, although she wasn't wearing a headscarf show was still nodding towards the protocol that have country.
[15:50:00] KEILAR: Mary Alice, that's a fascinating point that Kate is making, that this is a way of obviously not wearing an abaya but sort of paying some respect to that. Does Melania Trump have a stylist in the how involved is she in these choices?
MARY ALICE STEPHENSON, FOUNDER OF GLAM FOR GOOD: Melania is very involved. She loves and knows style. She has been in the fashion world for a long time, so she's very strong-minded and picks what she wants to wear. She does have a stylist. His name is Herve Pierre and he was the creative director at Carolina Herrera but most of the clothes she's wearing on this trip are off the rack and only two have been custom made, the Dolce Gabbana look and any Herve Pierre dresses that she's been looking. She's shopping off the rack, but she does work with a team, and she's strategically picking every single thing she's wearing to make a statement.
KEILAR: Well, look at what she wore in Israel. Tell us about this, Kate.
KATE BENNETT: This is a Michael Kors that was again purchased off the rack. In Israel she wore several all-white outfits, Israeli flag, their colors are blue and white, again, not a mistake, very calculated, covered up. This is, again, an example of her using her style to sort of, you know, send a message.
KEILAR: And look at this next -- we have a picture of this. She wore this dress. Tell us about this.
BENNETT: Again, this is another white choice in Israel, a Raksanda and she wore that when she gave that at the convention, the puffy sleeve dress.
KEILAR: It was beautiful.
BENNETT: She didn't cover her shoulders visiting the Holocaust Memorial, a sundress but still appropriate.
KEILAR: Mary Alice, take a look at this because you mentioned that Dolce and Gabbana outfit, the Dolce & Gabbana coat dress. What is your take, what she's communicating and a much more conservative look in the fact that she's paying homage to a designer who has been good to her.
STEPHENSON: Absolutely. She's wearing one of the most, you know, talented and famous design duos Dolce Gabbana, custom made for her. She's being culturally respectful. This entire trip she's making a very big statement showing she wants to represent and represent well with style, that, you know, Melania is a strong woman that understands fashion. She understands being in front of the cameras and the messaging that it -- that it gives forward to the world. So, I think she -- although they are loosening up things fashion-wise at the Vatican, she really wanted to be culturally respectful and wear the right thing and do the right thing.
KEILAR: I would be remiss if I did not ask you both about the and swat seen round the world, witnessed there in Israel. OK. Mary Alice. You're friends. You know Melania personally so my read on this, and you tell me if you're wrong, kind of getting edged out there on the welcome carpet. Maybe it also wasn't appropriate to be holding hands at this moment. What is your take knowing her about what happened here?
STEPHENSON: You know, Melania is an incredible human being. She's a very kind person. She is standing by her husband, and she will always do the right thing. I think she was just taking her time. She's very reserved, and I know she's so honored to be the first lady, and I think that was just a funny little moment between a husband and a wife, and it's hard to walk in those high heels.
KEILAR: She might need a helping hand if I might say.
STEPHENSON: I think Melania has the upper hand at all times.
KEILAR: This is the arrival in Rome, I believe, Kate.
BENNETT: That's right. This one, I honestly think she didn't see him. Moving her hair out of her face here. I don't think this is as deliberate as perhaps the hand swat was. Again, it's just a moment, these stairs are high. She's in the teeter tottering high heels. I don't think we should read too much into this.
KEILAR: Can we generally -- Sorry, go on, Mary Alice.
STEPHENSON: I think what's going on is the lack of facial conformity. Melania is not like Michelle Obama. Melania is not always smiling, not always appearing to be outwardly joyful but that doesn't mean she's not. She's one of the kindest and happiest people that I know. She's been modeling for years. She doesn't outwardly show this kind of joy. If she was smiling and happy, we might not be having this conversation, but because she's more reserved, people are asking questions.
[15:55:00] KEILAR: That's a very good point. Mary Alice Stephenson and Kate Bennett, great conversation, really appreciate it.
Next, we're going to talk about our breaking news. The brother of the Manchester concert bomber who has been arrested. He's accused of planning a separate terror attack. We'll be live from the UK with breaking details.
KEILAR: Keep your ears and eyes peeled because any time now we're expecting a Congressional Budget Office to release its score for the controversial health care bill that's passed the house. It's hit a $2 billion savings goal or it has to hit that goal or it's dead in the water in the Senate. The estimate will also give us a sense of how many people will lose coverage if the bill were to become law. We're going to bring you the critical numbers as soon as we get them. Also, a quick programming note. Do not miss CNN's special report, "White House in Crisis." we're going to take you through all of the twists and the turns of the Russia investigation. That's tonight at 11:00 only here on CNN. And "The Lead" with Jake Tapper starts right now.