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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump, U.K. Prime Minister To Meet On Sidelines Of G7 Summit; FBI Russia Investigation Looking At Kushner Role; Trump Scolds NATO Allies Over Defense Spending. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired May 26, 2017 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[09:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely. All right. Time now for CNN NEWSROOM today with Poppy Harlow.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Well said, Alisyn. Well said this Friday morning. You guys have a good early start to your weekend. We've got a lot ahead.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: You too.

HARLOW: Good Friday morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow. You just saw John Berman right there.

Just hours after his under card fight with a reporter, Greg Gianforte wins the title, congressman-elect. The Montana Republican edging out Democrat Rob Quist in a special election that many saw as an early test of President Trump's popularity.

Donald Trump won by 20 points in Montana. A Democrat hasn't won a congressional seat there in two decades. In fact, just moments ago, President Trump gave a shout-out from Italy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you. Gracias.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thank you.

TRUMP: Great win in Montana.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: But just hours before the polls opened, Gianforte threw it all into the ring. He was charged with assaulting a reporter who dared to ask him a question. Reporter Ben Jacobs had his tape recorder rolling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN JACOBS, POLITICS REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: -- the CBO score. As you know, you've been waiting to make your decision about health care until we saw the bill out and it just came out. And when you talk about -- REP. GREG GIANFORTE (R), MONTANA: Yes. We'll talk to you about that later.

JACOBS: Yes, but there's not going to time. I'm just curious if you --

GIANFORTE: OK. Speak with Shane, please. (Inaudible).

I'm sick and tired of you guys. The last time you came in here you did the same thing. Get the hell out of here!

JACOBS: Jesus.

GIANFORTE: Get the hell out of here! OK. The last guy did the same thing. Are you with "The Guardian"?

JACOBS: Yes! And you just broke my glasses.

GIANFORTE: The last guy did the same damn thing.

JACOBS: You just body slammed and broke my glasses.

GIANFORTE: Get the hell out of here.

JACOBS: You'd like me to get the hell out of here. I'd also like to call the police. Can I get your guys' names?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, you've got to leave.

JACOBS: He just body slammed me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got to leave.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Marking a first, that is for sure. And we all woke up to the news this morning that despite that, he won. Ryan Young joins us live in Bozeman, Montana.

So last night, he apologized to his supporters and some in the crowd were actually yelling out, "You're forgiven, you're forgiven."

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, absolutely, they were. You know, when I walked around that crowd last night for about 30 minutes, I can tell you a lot of the supporters who showed up were definitely behind their candidate. Look, I've met that reporter who actually had that back and forth. He's about 150 pounds, not a very big guy. And those questions weren't that hard.

But I was hearing from people in the crowd, look, some of you out of towners are going too far with these questions. But he was asking about health care, something that's very valid to ask someone who's running for Congress in terms of questions that should be asked right before a campaign.

So you can understand sort of the back and forth here. You have the die-hard supporters and then you have other people out in the community who thought, what kind of message is being sent to the community and children in particular when you have people act like this? But let's listen to the apology because I think it kind of went a long way in terms of maybe healing some wounds in the community.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. GREG GIANFORTE (R), MONTANA: Sometimes, hard work is born out of hard lessons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amen.

GIANFORTE: Last night, I learned a lesson. Last night, I made a mistake. And I took an action that I can't take back. And I'm not proud of what happened. I should not have responded in the way that I did, and for that, I'm sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you're forgiven.

(APPLAUSE)

GIANFORTE: I should not have treated that reporter that way. And for that, I'm sorry, Mr. Ben Jacobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG: And a spokesman for Paul Ryan put out this statement that said, "Republican-elect Gianforte is an outsider with real-world experience creating jobs in Montana. He will bring experience to Congress where he will be a valuable voice in the House Republican Conference."

And once again, you heard those voices in the crowd. As I walked around and talked to people, one woman even suggested to me, maybe we should suspend the First Amendment so lawmakers can work in silence before they have to face reporters and their tough questions. Of course, I pushed back a little on that one, thinking how can you defend everything else and not defend the First Amendment.

HARLOW: Yes, she should read the constitution. Thank you very much, Ryan Young.

The political intrigue deepens at the White House. President Trump's son-in-law, he's most trusted adviser, Jared Kushner, now drawn into the FBI investigation into Russia. U.S. officials briefed on the investigation tell CNN, the Bureau is looking at Kushner's role during the election and the transition. That includes his ties to various Russians.

Our Joe Johns is in Washington with more. So explain what exactly this is because he's not the target of a probe and there are no allegations of wrongdoing, but it looks like the Feds are focusing on him. Why?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, first, the significance of this is that Jared Kushner, who has become the President's indispensable man in many ways, a member of the first family, now becomes the first person we know of currently inside the White House to get looked at in the investigation.

[09:05:06] It's not our understanding, as you said, Kushner is the subject or target of any investigation, not suspected of any wrongdoing. However, he is believed to have a wealth of knowledge about a lot of things, about meetings with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States about Michael Flynn, about the Trump micro targeting in key battleground states, and whether campaign data could have been compromised by the Russians, wittingly or unwittingly, and about the Trump campaign social media strategy.

Kushner's lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, who, by the way, is herself a former deputy attorney general, put out a statement zeroing in on the interest in her client's Russian contacts during the transition, which include Kislyak and the head of Russian bank that's been sanctioned by the U.S. Gorelick's statement, "Mr. Kushner previously volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about these meetings and will do so if asked."

This does not clear if the FBI is actually going to want to talk to Jared Kushner, but it's our understanding the Bureau, so far, has not reached out to him. At least at this stage, Poppy.

HARLOW: Right. Right, right. And his lawyer, as you said, is saying, look, he will talk if anyone wants to sit down with him. Joe Johns in Washington. Thank you.

Let's talk about all of this. Reid Wilson is here, national Correspondent for "The Hill." Amber Phillips joins us, political reporter for "The Washington Post." And Emily Jane Fox, CNN contributor and writer for "Vanity Fair." Thank you all for being here.

Emily, let me begin with you since you know all things Kushner and Kushner land. Again, just to be clear, there is no indication he's the target of a probe, no indication they are, you know, investigating him or even want to sit down and talk to him at this point in time.

But this is like the man in charge of so much at the White House, from Middle East policy to this big tech summit he's going to hold, to China, to Mexico. Not a good look for the President.

EMILY JANE FOX, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's not. And this is the problem with Jared Kushner having such a tremendously broad portfolio in the White House. Before all of this, we thought the biggest issue with that was, well, if he's in charge of so many things, how can he actually do anything?

HARLOW: Right.

FOX: And now, it seems, because he has a huge slate that he is responsible for, he could get blamed or be involved in any kind of investigation because he overseas so many things.

HARLOW: The President has always had the utmost trust in Jared Kushner, but he was a businessman before he was in politics. I mean, he's never been in politics before. How does that complicate things, just all of the ties that, you know, is believed? And we do know he's done business. He's done business with some big Russian banks and bankers. It complicates things, no?

FOX: Of course. I mean, his family's real estate company, we have no idea what kind of ties they have. It's a private company. There's no duty to report any of those kinds of things.

He has, of course, submitted financial disclosures. But we also know that on his security clearance form that he submitted in January, he left off these two meetings with Russian officials. And so his behavior, since he decided to join the administration, leaves open some questions, let alone his business ties.

HARLOW: Which is the same thing, not disclosing those meetings that the Attorney General Jeff Sessions did, which forced him to recuse himself from the whole probe.

Reid, to you. There is a few threats here, right, when it comes to Kushner and this Russia investigation. The data analytics operation that he really helped spearhead during the election, the relationship that he has to fire national security advisor Michael Flynn, who sort of got his blessing and Ivanka's blessing, and his own contacts with a big name Gorkov, a Russian banker, and Ambassador Kislyak. What matters most here?

REID WILSON, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE HILL: Well, I think that what we have seen in the early days of this White House is that outsiders, people who come in with no government experience, can trip up a lot of times.

Emily just mentioned leaving certain meetings off of forms as Jared Kushner sought his security clearance. That's something a rookie does. That's something that somebody who does not have the long experience in government is sort of wont to just forget about. And that could be a problem.

You know, Donald Trump has said that he wants government to run like a business. Government is fundamentally unlike a business. And given that a whole bunch of businessmen are now running the administration, you know, they have got to deal with more transparency, more requirements for transparency than any business has to undergo.

They have to answer to a board of directors that includes 435 members of the House and a hundred members of the Senate, half of whom are of the other party.

HARLOW: Yes.

WILSON: This is going to be pretty tough. And I think this is just an indication that they are still finding their way through the White House. HARLOW: And such an important point. You know, if he was running a

public company, a Fortune 500 company, it would be way different. He'd answer to shareholders. He'd have all these SCC filings, all these forms.

It's different when you are running a private company, just like the Trump Organization or the Kushner Company. You don't have to disclose anything to the public, and you don't have to answer to a board like a public company does in the same way.

Amber, to you. Jared Kushner has given one interview. We wish it was to Emily Jane Fox, but it was not. It was to "Forbes." He's given one interview since the election, and here is a key part of it people are talking about today.

[09:10:08] "I called somebody who worked for one of the technology companies that I work with, and I had them give me a tutorial on how to use Facebook micro targeting." Why do people care about that statement a little bit more today?

AMBER PHILLIPS, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, sure. What we're learning today from CNN's reporting is that the FBI is looking into Kushner in part because of his large umbrella and meeting with Russian officials but also because he oversaw the campaign's data analytics and social media game.

And there are so many more questions, I can't begin to understand exactly what the FBI wants to know from Jared Kushner. But I think overseeing data analytics for a campaign is not an immediate qualifier that you're going to be looked at by the FBI for an investigation.

But as the panel has been saying, when you wrap that into the fact that the FBI is interested in how Russians may have used social media to influence our presidential election, with the fact that he met with Russian officials while Russians were trying to win people over to help them out with their goal, with the fact that he didn't disclose these meetings with Russian officials on a security clearance, it makes sense that the FBI is looking into him. But we just don't know, like, what among his broad portfolio they're most interested in right now.

HARLOW: Emily, you cover all things Kushner and Ivanka. So, I mean, what's his next move? What would you expect if you were looking at that crystal ball?

FOX: It's hard to say. There have been times when things get tough in the White House where Kushner retreats in this kind of situation. We also know that next week is a Jewish holiday. Jared Kushner is an observant Jew, so there is a possibly that he will be observing next week and out of the White House.

But early next month, they're supposed to hold this tech summit, which is one piece of Jared Kushner's broad portfolio. I'm sure that that will go ahead as planned, but there is now a cloud over Kushner's head.

HARLOW: A lot of really big name tech CEOs, right?

FOX: Of course, of course. They're all coming to the White House. And the question is like, do they want to be associated --

HARLOW: That's interesting.

FOX: -- with someone who is being a focus of an investigation?

HARLOW: That's interesting. Guys, I just want to get one beat with you on this Montana race.

Reid, I mean, it's all unprecedented, the fact that Gianforte, you know, roughed up, pummeled the reporter the night before the election when, granted, Trump won the state by 20 points, the Dem hasn't won a congressional seat in two decades. But the lack of a response or calling out of him by his own party is stunning to a lot of people.

You've got the National Republic Congressional Committee saying, quote, "We all make mistakes." A spokesman for Paul Ryan says he will be a, quote, "valuable voice in the House GOP conference." Duncan Hunter, a Republican from California, said the behavior is inappropriate, quote, "unless the reporter deserved it."

Are you surprised that there is not more of a condemnation of at least the action, not the man, from Republicans?

WILSON: Not in the least. This is a hyper partisan environment in which my guys can do no wrong and your guys can do no right. The election in Montana is -- I mean, by the way, we should also say it's not unprecedented. A reporter shot a member of Congress back in the 19th century and a bunch of reporters used to carry daggers in case anything like this actually happened, so in a sort of --

HARLOW: Good history lesson this Friday morning. Thank you for that.

WILSON: Right. In a sense, it is a return to the 19th century. Maybe we're not so into that in the 21st century.

HARLOW: Maybe not. Amber, final thought on that?

PHILLIPS: Yes, I think it's --

HARLOW: You know, whether this matters big picture.

PHILLIPS: Well, I think it's worth noting that Gianforte did not apologize for this until he was safely declared the victor.

HARLOW: Until he won.

PHILLIPS: Exactly. And so the NRCC, Republican's campaign committee, here in Washington sort of alluded to that apology in their congratulations to him. They said, hey, now that he's apologized, that's great, let's move on. Let's be Republicans in Congress. And I think that's what you're seeing today, an apology washes it away.

HARLOW: All right. Thank you very much to you all. Have a great holiday weekend. Reid Wilson, Amber Phillips, Emily Jane Fox.

Still to come for us, a major moment for President Trump. He and the leaders of six of the world's most powerful other countries gathering for the G7 in Sicily. Are these talks laced with tension after, well, you saw what he said, lecturing them at NATO yesterday?

Also, new details on that bomber in Manchester, who he spoke to minutes before the attack. We have the latest.

And if President Trump's Medicaid cuts are in, well, thousands of jobs are out in one Kentucky district. Kentucky, that gave this president a big win. We went there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:18:40]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: As the world's most powerful leaders convene right now for the G7 Summit in Italy, President Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May are going to hold their own meeting on the sidelines.

This comes as relations between the U.S. and the U.K., to say the least, have been strained in recent days over intel leaks surrounding the Manchester bombing.

Let's go to Sicily. That's where we find our Sara Murray. So I hear they sat next to each other at dinner last night, but now they are going to actually pow-wow.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: They did sit next to each other at dinner last night and of course, we heard their public statements. We heard President Trump condemning leaks. We heard Prime Minister Theresa May saying that this is a very important intelligence sharing relationship.

Both sides need to be able to be trusted. So we are being told by sources that they are slated to have this sideline meeting at the G7 today between President Trump and Theresa May just to sort of hash over those issues.

Now obviously, we don't have a lot of access to this summit. We are not there to see this meeting, but it will be interesting to hear what comes out of that.

I think one of the interesting sort of story lines you are seeing develop around President Trump abroad is that we are seeing some of these frictions come to light maybe more than we have in the past.

We have seen the issues between President Trump and Theresa May. The U.K. and the U.S. intelligence emerging. We obviously saw President Trump publically admonish the other members of NATO to spend more on defense.

[09:20:01]And in addition to that, in a private meeting with German officials, President Trump said the Germans are very bad because of the trade difference because Germany has a trade surplus and obviously President Trump has railed against the fact that the U.S. is not getting better trade deals.

So you are seeing a president with a very different style, someone who certainly is not afraid to tweak our allies a little bit as he is finishing up his tour abroad. Back to you, Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes. To lecture them as he did yesterday at NATO headquarters. Sara Murray, thank you for the reporting out of Sicily. Now while President Trump attends the G7, back here in the United States, it is his son-in-law, Jared Kushner who is this morning under the microscope. Kushner is being looked at in the Russia investigation.

We have learned that specifically the FBI is looking at his role during the campaign and during the transition. It is very important to note right now there are no allegations that he did anything wrong.

Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Adriano Espaillat of New York. It is nice to have you here. We're going to get to all things Democrat in a moment. But just your reaction to this Kushner, obviously a New Yorker, and very integral in the White House.

Someone who the president has really put in charge in helping broker a Mideast peace deal. He holds this big tech summit with CEOs next month. He is in charge of the China relationship, the Mexico relationship. What is your take on the fact that we know that the FBI is now looking at him?

REPRESENTATIVE ADRIANO ESPAILLAT (D), NEW YORK: It is very concerning that the FBI has considered him a person of interest, as they say in the law enforcement community, because he is someone that is always in the room where it happens as they say in the play Hamilton. He's in the White House and a top advisor to the president and for him to be considered a person of interest in this widening probe is a big concern.

HARLOW: Just to be clear, I don't believe that is a language that they have used that we have person of interest or suspect or anything like that right now. They're looking at him. There is a microscope. I hear you.

On the Russia probe big picture, you sat down with the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last week in Washington. Even after that meeting, after he appointed Special Counsel Bob Mueller, you said this, "There is still a need for an independent commission where American people will be able to have more access to what happened." Why?

I mean, you have got a special counsel in Bob Mueller. Is it because he has to report to the AG's office? Why do you want a special commission?

ESPAILLAT: Commission, yes. Well, first of all, I think that the American people need a process through which they can get access to information as to what happened. Very often these FBI investigations are very insular. They are very quiet, stealth, and the American people right now have a lack of confidence in government.

HARLOW: So you want something written like the 9/11 Commission Report.

ESPAILLAT: Absolutely.

HARLOW: More public.

ESPAILLAT: More public. The 9/11 Report produced 37 pieces of policy that were adopted in basically restructuring how we answer to an emergency situation, how do we combat terrorism.

HARLOW: You're not questioning the ability of Bob Mueller?

ESPAILLAT: No, absolutely not. He's a well-regarded and experienced former director of the FBI. We have high steams and expectations of him. But the American people don't trust government right now. They see all these leaks going on. They see the Russia probe. They see everything that's happening in the White House and some level of confidence must be restored, and this happens through a commission.

HARLOW: On May 18th you said, quote, "It is time for House Republicans," so your counter parts in the House, "to decide which they value more, their oath to the Constitution or allegiance to a radical White House obstructing justice." Now, that's your allegation that this White House obstructed justice. There is no evidence of that or no charge at this point.

This week your counter parts in the Senate, on the Senate Intelligence Committee, the leader, Senator Burr, a Republican, Senator Warner, a Democrat got blanket authority to issue subpoenas and they said we're going to do anything we have to do in this Russia probe.

We're going to get documents from Flynn. We're going to get the story from Flynn. So are you just saying the House Republicans aren't doing enough? Because these are pretty broad measures by Republicans in the Senate.

ESPAILLAT: Obviously this is not a Republican or a Democratic crisis. This is an American crisis.

HARLOW: But I want you to respond. You say House Republicans aren't doing enough. What are you talking about?

ESPAILLAT: Well, I think that for some times now they have been dragging their feet. They are installing the investigation. I think that the leader --

HARLOW: I mean, Nunes isn't leading it anymore.

ESPAILLAT: Well, he was. We saw how he stumbled.

HARLOW: But he's not now, sir, and you said this after he was replaced. If you are going to make these allegations what are you talking about? ESPAILLAT: Clearly you yourself have stated that the Senate process has been a little bit more assertive in getting to the bottom of this. And I think that in the House, we haven't seen that kind of commitment.

HARLOW: So this is a message to your fellow lawmakers in the House.

ESPAILLAT: Absolutely.

HARLOW: Step up like you think the Senate is. Let me get your take on the president overseas. He's at the G7 in Sicily right now. He goes at a time when relations are strained between the U.S. and the U.K. because of these leaks.

[09:25:060]Also, he lectured fellow NATO members yesterday about paying more into NATO, which, you know, Democratic presidents have asked for, for a long time as well. But there is the optics of all of this.

That lecturing, you know, the odd handshake between he and Emmanuel Macron of France, the sort of pushing in front of the president of Montenegro. What do you make of the optics of this trip?

ESPAILLAT: The approach was a little bit tacky as they say in New York City. I think that for a president to speak down to some of our best allies, strongest allies in a time where Europe is really concerned about the intrusion of Russia, remember, the cold war is no longer like a missile parade or something like that or even, you know, having a Russian diplomat bang his shoe on the podium.

It is now about hacks. It is about cyberattacks. It is about the intrusion in electoral process and there is a lot of concern in Europe. And for him to go and start pointing fingers, it's a little bit concerning, I think.

HARLOW: I've got to go. But yes or no, are you happy at least to see this president asking other countries to pay up more because Americans are paying a lot?

ESPAILLAT: Other countries should pay up their share, absolutely.

HARLOW: So you are happy about that.

ESPAILLAT: Other countries should pay up their share.

HARLOW: Thank you, Congressman. Have a nice weekend. Thank you very much.

Ahead for us, British authorities now trying to contain the network that they think is responsible for Monday's terror attack in Manchester. We have that.

Also new details this morning about what the bomber's brother knew and when.

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