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Russia Controversy Swirls as President Trump Meets with Aides; Paris Accord and Trump's Commitment; New Health Care Weighed in By Doctors; More Arrests Made in Manchester Bombing. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired May 28, 2017 - 16:90 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:21] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. And thank you so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
Less than 24 hours after returning from his first international trip, the president's legal counsel arriving at the White House, right there. Our cameras spotting Marc Kasowitz him with Ivanka Trump. A senior administration official telling CNN the president is meeting with senior aides as well today, strategizing on how to quell the steady stream of leaks on the Russian investigation that have dominated the week's headlines.
Just moments after arriving back at the White House last night, the president was immediately confronted with new reports about his son- in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner. And this was the question sent out. Did he respond?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, did Jared try to set up a back channel to Russia?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. No response there from the president.
Let's go now to CNN's Washington correspondent, Ryan Nobles.
So Ryan, so far, you know, administration there has refused to comment, to say anything more about this proposed secret communication line that's being reported about to the Kremlin. So they are meeting with the attorneys and maybe others. But when might we hear something more concrete from the White House.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fredricka. That's a great question. I mean, we have been asking specifically, and you know, can you confirm or deny this report that said that Jared Kushner attempted to set up this secret back channel with the Russian government during the transition, and the White House has basically ignoring those requests, not confirming or denying it.
Instead what they are doing is sending up senior administration officials to talk about the topic more broadly, to say that if this did happen, it wouldn't necessarily be that bad of a thing. We heard H. R. McMaster, the national security advisor, say yesterday that he has known of back channels like this oftentimes in government through different administrations. And then this morning the homeland security secretary John Kelly echoed this comments on NBC. Listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I know Jared. He is a great guy. Decent guy. His number one interest really is the nation. So there's a lot of different ways to communicate, back channel, you know, publicly, with other countries. I don't see any big issue here relative to Jared.
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST, MEET THE PRESS: Even with an adversary, somebody that was at the time our own intelligence community had collectively said this is a country that infiltrated our election. Did this show good judgment?
KELLY: Well, you know, it was before the government was in place during the transition period, I think, from what I understand. And I think any time you can open lines of communication with anyone, whether they're good friends or not-so-good friends is a smart thing for do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: And what you didn't hear, though, there from Kelly was a confirmation of this situation. That indeed Jared Kushner was attempting to do this. As we said before, just more kind of a broad endorsement of the concept in general. So we don't specifically know how the White House intends to handle this. And perhaps this is part of a broader legal strategy. Of course, the president is facing a lot off questions about Russia's attempt to intervene in the U.S. election and what, if any, role his campaign may have played in that. We know that he is huddling this weekend with key staff members, and we spotted, as you mentioned, Fredricka, outside the White House with Ivanka Trump. Marc Kasowitz, who is the private attorney that has been retained by Donald Trump to represent him in this case as a private citizen. And Kasowitz is someone who has a long history with Donald Trump. We don't know for sure if he met directly with the president. But it's clear, Fredricka, that they are preparing for a long fight here over the next few months.
WHITFIELD: Right. Again, can we show that video again because it is the latest video today showing at least one attorney showing up, Kasowitz. And you see Ivanka Trump in that imagery as well. It is her husband, Jared Kushner, his actions or reported actions in question there. You can see it is a very rainy day. But there they are and now with the umbrella heading in or at least around those vehicles there. There you go, the attorney right there.
All right, thanks so much, Ryan Nobles. We will check back with you.
All right. Let's talk more about all of this with Republican strategist Brian Morgenstern and political analyst Ellis Henican and CNN national security Juliette Kayyem. Good to see all of you.
All right. So Brian, let me begin with you as a strategist. You know, what is the White House strategy here? Not immediately responding, explaining, deflecting something.
BRIAN MORGENSTERN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, you know, I think it wouldn't be crazy to assume that since they have been traveling all over the world for the last, you know, week or week and a half, maybe they haven't really looked into it and figured out what the right answer is yet.
But I will say that Senator Graham was discussing this topic earlier and count (ph) me in his camp of being skeptical of this whole thing. The story is an allegation that Jared Kushner made this suggestion to set up this back channel which apparently didn't actually come into fruition. And the sourcing is a little weird that it would be the ambassador purportedly, you know, participating in this back channel but then discussing it in a non-confidential mode of communication and I guess that's how people found out about it. It just seems a little weird. It seems a little thin. So I would expect the next explanation would --.
[16:05:42] WHITFIELD: It is all weird. I mean, I think everyone had agreed with it. It is weird which is why, you one would think the White House would come out right away and say not true, never happened, or these are the circumstances, so that so much time doesn't elapse that people wonder if there is something nefarious here. Is there something that is not being shared because you said what should they say. How about just the truth?
MORGENSTERN: Well, I think they are probably, you know, they are huddling up this weekend. I assume they will have a White House counsel or someone else bring Jared in and ask him, what the heck happened, you know? What's going on so that we can actually tell the American people?
But when you have the whole senior staff traveling all over the world, you know -
WHITFIELD: They are all (INAUDIBLE).
MORGENSTERN: Right. I mean, this probably just hasn't been addressed yet. But I would expect that they will do so imminently.
WHITFIELD: All right. Well, here are some of the concerns the former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, expressed on this issue of the reports of a back channel discussion with Jared Kushner and the Russians.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR: I have to say that, without specifically affirming or confirming these conversations, since even though they are in the holy ground they are still classified. But just from the theoretical standpoint, I will tell you that my dashboard warning light was clearly on, and I think that was the case with all of us in the intelligence community, very concerned about the nature of these approaches to the Russians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So, Juliette, are warning lights, alarm signals going off for you?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. I think absolutely. You saw that across a bipartisan group of former national security and intelligence agents and leaders. So just to Brian's point, I absolutely believe this story at this stage. I mean if it were false, they would have come out relatively quickly. I believe that, you know, for whatever the motivation was and let's say it was, as "The New York Times" reported, it was about discussions about Syria, I will give Jared Kushner the benefit of the doubt.
The naivete, hubris, ignorance, you know, fill in the word of wanting to communicate with the Russians on their intelligence assets is just so shocking to most people looking at this. And so then, I think it is fair to say there's legitimate reasons for there to be questions about Jared Kushner's motivations.
I believe, you know, I don't know him. But the idea that he only has America's interests at mind -- in mind, I think it is fair to question that at this stage, because the connections on financial dealings with his family and other issues that have come up in this investigation and reporting, I think it is fair game at this stage to question Jared Kushner's motivations based on the actual actions and activities of all of this weirdness with Russia. Because of course, as we know, it wasn't just this incident. It was dozens of meetings that were not disclosed.
WHITFIELD: Yes. So Juliette, would these questions also be grounds for pulling his security clearance?
KAYYEM: Yes, I think so at this stage. And that is going to be a push politically. But I think if this weren't political, there would be absolutely no question that a man like this security clearance would be pulled.
I mean, in other words, if he were not a political appointee but he were, say, a deputy -- a deputy at an agency with no political back, you wouldn't even -- like literally, you would not wait two minutes. Like it would be pulled because of the complications and the political nature of this. There is obviously going to be a debate.
But I think at this stage, look, he is damaged right now. He cannot satisfy his obligations to the president. But let's just be clear here ever his obligations to the United States with this lingering over him. And then, of course, we have to remember we are now, in this investigation, we are in the White House now. This is not like a Carter Page weird - you know, those hangers-on that are easily dismissed from the campaign.
Jared Kushner has security clearance and he is the top advisor to the president. I don't see how he stays if they actually want to move on. I don't see it. WHITFIELD: Got you. This was Representative Adam Schiff of
California on this report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[16:10:03] REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: I can't confirm or deny whether they are accurate. But if they are, it's obviously very concerning. And as you said at the top of the show, it is all about the context. John Brennan testified this week that what concerned him wasn't simply that the Russians were having contact with people associated with the Trump campaign that the Russians had contacts with Americans quite routinely. But it was the context of an election campaign in which the Russians had been intervening to help Donald Trump, to hurt Hillary Clinton. And of course if these reports are accurate right after that campaign, after that intervention to have the president's son-in-law, a key player within the Trump organization, try and establish a back channel with the Russians through a Russian diplomatic facility, you have to ask, well, who are they hiding the conversations from?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. So Ellis, Kushner has already said that he would, you know, cooperate fully. He would testify on the hill. He would fully cooperate. So perhaps might this be any explanation about this report will just have to wait and it will come at that time when he testifies?
ELLIS HENICAN, POLITICAL COLUMNIST: Well, I will sign on to Brian's "weird," although probably for different reasons. So let's parse this just a little bit. We know that 48 hours, almost, after this story broke in the "Washington Post," there has still not been any clear denial from anybody connected at the White House, from Jared, from his attorney, from the president's new lawyer --
WHITFIELD: McMaster just said, you know, he is not going to comment.
HENICAN: He doesn't remember. Right. (INAUDIBLE) the private attorney for Jared said he doesn't really remember all the details of these relationships. By the way, if you set out John Kelly in his strongest defense, which you played just a moment ago, is that well, Jared is really a good guy. He may be a great guy. But I don't know if that answers anything.
WHITFIELD: But in general, there are back channels.
HENICAN: Yes. And the notion -- I mean that's kind of the defense that you issue when you have absolutely no other defense. It is right up there with, you know, he is a really good dad, you know. Well, it's maybe true but it doesn't necessarily address the thing that you are most concerned about.
WHITFIELD: So, Brian, you don't see that it is problematic that very little has been said, that there haven't been any kind of explanation.
MORGENSTERN: Well, I think they are looking into it and they will get there. What I think making these logical leaps from this thread of information --
WHITFIELD: Can it ever be too long, you know, in a lapse of time before they get there?
MORGENSTERN: Well, legislature. But they literally just landed very late last night. So, you know, they apparently are having meetings to address this now. But I think making the logical leap from this one thread of information that Jared was somehow doing things, you know, to benefit himself monetarily or doing things that were, you know, treasonous or something crazy like that, I mean, that is just a wild allegation and just totally speculation.
WHITFIELD: All right, Juliette.
KAYYEM: I want to be clear here. I do think that people like Brian defending the White House tend to sort of say things about national security people like -- I never used the word "treasonous." It is literally just the fact of it, Brian. I mean, in other words, if the facts are true, which they haven't been denied, that there is someone close to the president with the highest security clearance who has made overturns and is not in a back channel. I think people are using that word incorrectly had made overtures in what capacity, we don't know because there goes the transition, to Russia country that had been going after during the campaign - going after not as Democrats but the democratic institutions. I think just the facts of it raise suspicions. I don't know -- motive and why he did it? That's what the investigation is for. But I just want to just look at the facts and the actions --
WHITFIELD: The reported fact. The reported fact of that line, whether it is called a back-channel line or some other means of communication -- a Russian installation in the U.S. right? In connection with the kremlin. That's the reported facts right now.
MORGENSTERN: But the very fact that this sort of suggestion or this kind ever conversation leaked suggests maybe we do need some back channels. My goodness. Just as everything is leaking out like this. I mean that's crazy. They need to be able to have confidential conversations with countries, including Russia, to address issues like Syria --
KAYYEM: I agree.
HENICAN: Thank goodness though, guys! Thank goodness for the leaks here! Right? That's the only way any of us would know anything. By the way, the suggestion that somehow or another they've been in a bubble for the last nine days and couldn't really respond properly until now. I mean, I'm pretty sure they had telephones over there.
WHITFIELD: And had there been a news conference, then perhaps some more questions might have been asked.
HENICAN: It was plenty of time. There was plenty of time. Plenty of time.
WHITFIELD: Who knows?
All right. Brian, Ellis, Juliette, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
All right. Coming up next, new details suffer is in the investigation of the fatal stabbings in Portland. Now the FBI is looking into whether it will be deemed a hate crime. That's next.
[16:19:01] WHITFIELD: We are getting new details into the investigation of a fatal stabbing attack on a Portland commuter train. Authorities are now looking into the suspect's background and trying to determine if he will be charged with federal hate crimes.
We are also learning more about the men who lost their lives after intervening to help fellow passengers. Here's CNN's Dan Lieberman.
DAN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are being hailed as heroes, the three stabbing victims in Friday's brutal knife attack were honored in a vigil last night in Portland. The victims came to the defense of two women aboard a crowded train at rush hour who were the target of the suspect's anti-Muslim and racial slurs. One of those killed, 53-year-old Ricky John Best, was on his way home from work. He was a city employee, an army veteran and father of four. His employers remember him as a model public servant. His mother telling CNN he liked to help people and said he will be missed greatly.
In 23-year-old Talisha (INAUDIBLE), a recent graduate of Reed College, an economics major. His school remembering him in a statement. One professor saying quote "he was a wonderful human being, as good as they come. And now he is a hero to me."
A third stabbing victim, 21-year-old Micah David Cole Fletcher, survived and is recovering at a hospital, his mother speaking out grateful that her son is alive.
[16:20:26] MARGE FLETCHER, MICAH FLETCHER'S MOTHER: I am feeling very, very lucky and thanking God. I'm feeling bad for my son who thinks it is his fault.
LIEBERMANN: She says she is not surprised he tried to intervene and help others.
FLETCHER: Micah's always done that. I told him his whole life, one of these days, Micah. I have always worried about him. But he has always been that way.
LIEBERMANN: Strangers are leaving notes and flowers at the site of the attack, calling the men heroes.
[16:25:09] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.
Just hours after president Trump returned from his first trip overseas. He took to twitter, not to highlight his successes but to take swipes at the media and say that stories fueled by leaks are fake news.
On CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION," former Republican Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum had in message for the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The last nine days hopefully have showed the president that if you stay on message, you stick to the script, you focus on policy, you drive home the messages that you talked about during the campaign, and that people in America are excited about, you can be a great president. If you tweet every day and complain about the media and complain about how you are being treated, you are going to be sidetracked and you're not going to get your deals done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Let's talk more about this with Republican strategist Brian Morgenstern and columnist for "Metro Paper" and political analyst Ellis Henican.
All right. Welcome back.
All right. So Brian, why is it so hard for the president do exactly what Santorum was saying -- suggesting?
MORGENSTERN: Well, you know, he has - both part of the reason he is president today is because he can change the national conversation with the click of a tweet button and communicate with tens of millions of people and, you know, sort of launch national debates on certain things.
WHITFIELD: But is this boding well for him right now coming off of that nine-day trip. He said it was a home run. He talked about the highlights in Italy and then he gets back to the U.S. and he is changing the subject.
MORGENSTERN: Right. Well, he is defending himself. You know? And I think that he was doing both. He was sort of trumpeting his part the pond (ph) -- his success overseas and then also defending himself from all these negative stories that he is trying to put the kibosh on. So he is trying to do both. I understand sort of a lawyer's perspective that the best client is the quietest client, who has just as little paper trail as possible, that's very carefully vetted and all of that. So I certainly appreciate that perspective. But my God, Trump has launched himself to the presidency of the United States, in part, because he can control the conversation through twitter. So it is hard to argue that it is, you know, backfiring all that much.
WHITFIELD: So then Ellis, is this elevating his game?
HENICAN: No. It's a psychological defect. I mean any rational person would look at this and stay stop, Mr. President! Stop! But he is incapable of stopping. I mean every single smart person in Washington has told him to stop. I'm sure that the new lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, has told him to stop. And I have no faith at all he is going to stop. I think you could cut off his fingers and his toes and he would still be poking at those guys with his nose. I don't think he is capable.
WHITFIELD: What should he be doing?
HENICAN: Well, he ought to react in some orderly fashion to the thousands of things, of self-created issues, that are now swirling around him, right? To put out a clear explanation, defend himself in a clear and rational way, not going create new uproars that he has to respond to with yet more twitter comments and conflicting comments out of the administration, and he needs to get his people on the same message. And he has failed to do all of these things.
WHITFIELD: So Brian, how does this president turn the corner while simultaneously, you know, meeting with the attorneys, you know, having a war room, figure out how do they manage all these investigations, yet at the same time turn his attention to these agenda items? I mean, the house speaker said, you know, they want to focus on tax reform, on health care. Why are we not seeing that from the president? Or is it your view that he can, and will, do that very soon, as opposed to, you know, tweeting about fake news or not commenting about this latest turn in the investigation.
MORGENSTERN: Well, I think there are two issues. And one is substantive, is what's the message? Is it going to be about health care and about tax reform and these legislative issues they want to get passed? If they can focus the contents of the message, that's one thing. There also seems to be issues of internal coordination in making sure that everybody in the administration is on the same page.
WHITFIELD: And then there's naming a new FBI director, Joe Lieberman, who was the front-runner, you know, said late Friday he is out. So that, too, is on the to-do list.
MORGENSTERN: Right. So -- but it is a matter of both what is the message, and then coordinating it and making sure that everyone is telling that same line. And you know, based on these reports that they are having these sort of internal meetings and trying to do that --
WHITFIELD: We saw the picture of the one attorney who was arriving.
MORGENSTERN: Right. And you know, having that sort of somebody in- charge of that issue with his portfolio and being able to guide the White House on that is a good step in that direction. And I think, again, you know, just making sure the content is consistent and that everybody understands what that content is within the administration so that you are not crossing signals. I think that's the sorts of things that are working to clean up now to be able to turn the corner.
[16:30:07] WHITFIELD: Sorry for interrupting. These are the images of attorney Kasowitz arriving there and you see Ivanka Trump there, too. Again, it's her husband, Jared Kushner, right now who is the centerpiece of the latest report about these proposed discussions about a back channel with Russia.
So Ellis, there's a lot that this, you know, White House is trying to manage right now. Is it your view that there's also potentially a real shake-up in who is going to be out front managing and who will be in the back room managing?
ELLIS HENICAN, COLUMNIST, METRO PAPERS: No, it feels like that although I have to say, we've been hearing that for a couple of weeks now. It's absolutely the case, Fred, that this west wing, this White House, leaks in a way that is unlike anything that we have seen in many, many years in Washington. But don't forget, every single person in there was put in there by the Trump administration.
And you got to ask why are they doing that? Is it that they think that irrational things are going on around them? Is it they're mad at the boss? Is it that the in-fighting is just so vicious that it's the only way to fight out that battle? But clearly there is a larger systematic issue. It is not too late to deal with it. They're still a long time left in this administration.
WHITFIELD: All right, Brian, Ellis, good to see you. Thanks so much.
HENICAN: Good seeing you guys.
WHITFIELD: All right, President Trump wrapping up his trip abroad, as we say, with no commitment on the Paris climate accord. He says he'll make that decision this week. Coming up in next, the former energy secretary explains the potential political and environmental ramifications straight ahead.
[16:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: President Trump's push to repeal and replace Obamacare is one of his most divisive priorities. While most of the arguments for and against Obamacare come from politician, what do those on the front lines like the doctors think? CNN's Martin Savidge talked to three doctors with three very different views on health care.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kitsap County, Washington State, an hour's drive west of Seattle. Like anywhere in America, a place where people need health care and a way to pay for it. Kristan Guetenberg is a surgeon. Peter Lehmann, a primary care physician and Niran Al-Agba, a pediatrician. Different doctors, different politics.
PETER LEHMANN, PHYSICIAN: I voted for Gary Johnson.
SAVIDEGE: The libertarian.
LEHMANN: The libertarian candidate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I voted for Donald Trump.
KRISTAN GUETENBERG, SURGEON: I voted for Hillary Clinton.
SAVIDGE: You might think there's little they agree on. Wrong. They all believe the current health care system is unsustainable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I say it's broken?
SAVIDGE: Yes, I know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I say it's unequivocally broken.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ask any patient. Do they think it's a system that serves their needs and that they're happy with?
SAVIDGE: Under programs dominated by health insurers, they say doctors are stressed to see more and more patients to make ends meet. Patients are frustrated because they can't get an appointment to see a doctor, and when they finally do, only get a few minutes. It's all about numbers.
GUETENBERG: We're kind of looking the wrong direction, I think. We need to be looking at how to provide quality care for patients without driving up price.
SAVIDGE: That's the Democrat doctor criticizing Obamacare, and the Trump doctor says the new GOP plan is just as bad and will cover fewer people.
NIRAN AL-AGBA, PEDIATRICIAN: Well, I don't think it's better. I think we're probably on the wrong track.
SAVIDGE: Dr. Al-Agba even told Trump that in a letter she posted online begging, "Please go back to the drawing board and start again." The problem they say is not on the talk about which party's health care plan is better, is that Washington's having the wrong conversation.
SAVIDGE: We're spending too much time talking about how do we cover people with insurance rather than what?
AL-AGBA: Rather than talking with patients about the price for care and what is really -- what is the real cost.
SAVIDGE: The skyrocketing cost of everything in health care they say is what makes it unaffordable, in their mind, inaccessible. And because they daily battle with cost versus care, doctors have a lot of good ideas on how to fix things. Except -- whenever Democrats or Republicans discuss health care reform, the doctors say there's always something missing, which they noticed again in a photo of Trump and his team.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were no physicians.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not one.
SAVIDGE: What about the doctor Trump appointed secretary of health? Tom Price, they say, has for a long time been more politician than physician.
Why wouldn't we come to you? I mean you, of all, are on the front lines, so to speak.
AL-AGBA: Front line practicing physicians have a long history of not necessarily being at the table and I think it's a shame that we haven't been because if we had been more involved from the beginning we might be in a different position.
SAVIDGE: I should probably point out that these doctors don't want to come across as just dumping on health insurance. They believe that health insurance has a role to play. It is just not the whole solution. And they want to be part of the active discussion because they say maybe more than anybody, they know that whether its Obamacare or the latest Republican plan, when it comes to health care in America, we just can't keep going the way we're going. Martin Savidge, CNN, Washington.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
WHITFIELD: President Trump says he will make a decision this week on whether America will continue its commitment to the Paris climate accord. We'll speak with a former energy secretary right after this.
[16:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: When President Trump showed up at the G7 Summit in Italy, the hottest topic after NATO was the Paris climate accord. Mr. Trump's European counterpart wanted to know if the U.S. would remain part of the landmark agreement on the environment. The president left the conference without making any real commitment on that, instead tweeting out that he will make a final decision next week which would now be this week. And this morning, Senator Lindsey Graham cautioned the president on pulling out of the accord.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It's a voluntary agreement. It doesn't require cap in trade measures to be imposed on our economy. It is all voluntary. If I were him, I would stay in the agreement and make it a better deal for worldwide business interests to improve the climate, better deal for business. But if he does withdraw, that would be a definitive statement by the president that he believes climate change is a hoax. Stay in the deal, make it a better deal would be my advice.
DANA BASH, CNN HOST: And so if he pulls out, what does that mean to you? GRAHAM: It means that the leader of the Republican Party is in a
different spot than the rest of the world. It would be taken
[16:45:00] as a statement that climate change is not a problem, not real. That that would be bad for the party, bad for country. Stay in the agreement because it is voluntary and try to make the world respond to better business practices when it comes to cleaning up carbon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, joining me right now on the phone is Bill Richardson, the former energy secretary and Democratic governor of New Mexico. Governor Richardson, thanks for being with us. So if the president were to pull out of this accord, how would you interpret it? What would it mean to you?
BILL RICHARDSON (D), FORMER ENERGY SECRETARY (via telephone): Well, it would be, as a former energy secretary, bad energy policy, bad environment policy, and bad for the world. Simply scientists are saying that if we pull out what it's going to mean every year is 3 billion additional tons of carbon dioxide in the air a year. We've already relaxed coal power plant standards, fuel efficient standards. We've lessened our commitment to renewable energy.
We're basically saying oil and coal are going to be our main energy sources when we should be spreading it around. And then as the world's biggest carbon emitter, we're turning our noses to 195 countries in the world -- Europe, China -- saying, we're going to be bad boys and play with the ball and run away. I think it is just a disastrous policy decision that lessens America's leadership in the world. Environmental, energy, moral and national security leadership.
WHITFIELD: In your view, would it also be sending a signal that this president does not believe in science, does not believe in climate change, and you know, Lindsey Graham said that the message would be that Trump believes it is a hoax. Do you agree with that? Would you go that far?
RICHARDSON: Well, I think we have to not look to politicians and political leaders. I think let's look at the science. If we pull out of this climate change agreement, the earth is going to be more -- going to reach more dangerous levels of warming. And this means for the United States, it's going to trigger and the world more extreme weather. It's going to raise the seas higher, ice sheets faster, shortages of water and agriculture, crops.
You know, we're an agricultural country. It's going to be more difficult to get crops moving in the right direction. You know, this is just a very bad national decision for this country. And I hope the president doesn't pull out. I hope he also doesn't say, well, we have to renegotiate a better deal. Well, how we going to renegotiate a better deal if we've got China and Europe doing, I think, very, very strong levels of carbon cuts and we say, no, we want a better deal. We want a better deal than you. What's going to happen, Fredricka, is a lot of countries, if the U.S.
pulls out, they're going to pull out and the agreement with be torn to shreds and I think the Earth will be the -- the planet will be severely damaged with more carbon pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
WHITFIELD: So world leaders are trying to understand President Trump, who he is, what his intention is, et cetera, and just off his nine-day trip we're hearing from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is not only trying to interpret what his feelings are about the Paris accord, but also what his commitment is to NATO allies. And she said today during an election rally in Munich that the times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out. I've experienced that in the last few days. And this, too, is what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEOC CLIP)
ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (Translated): The times when we could completely count on others, they are over to a certain extent. I've experienced this in the last few days and that is why I can only say that we Europeans must take our fate into our own hands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So, what concerns you about Angela Merkel's concerns and whether other European allies share the same sentiments?
RICHARDSON: Well, what worries me is she's saying the U.S. is going to abdicate its leadership by possibly getting out of the Paris climate agreement so we Europeans -- Europe, India, China, the rest of the world has to take the lead on reducing carbon emissions and stay in the climate accord. I think that's what she's saying.
You know when France and Germany and the G7 countries, the seven most powerful democracies are together except for the U.S., that's 6 against 1 or 7 against 1, you know, it just shows that we're not leading around the world. I think the president's trip, he did all right in Saudi Arabia, in Israel except for the human rights issue.
[16:50:00] When he goes to NATO, our main allies, says you got to pay more on NATO instead of saying let's work together on climate change and the Paris accords and fight against ISIS. And now, you know, leaders like Merkel, Germany, France, Macron of France, are saying, well, geez, we may have to go at it alone. And we're going to lead and the U.S. is not the lead. That's going to hurt the United States.
WHITFIELD: Can I also ask you too, you know, as former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. about these reports of the, you know, proposed back channels that Jared Kushner, advisor to President Trump, was reportedly trying to set up with Russia. DO you have any concerns about that or any thoughts about that investigation now?
RICHARDSON: Well, that's very concerning. That's very serious. There shouldn't be no back channels especially with a country that's not been terribly friendly with us. That should be straight diplomatic channels, State Department, National Security Council, defense department. You know, I don't know all the facts on this and I know Mr. Kushner is very close to the president and put this trip together.
So, it does bother me that a potential back channel to avoid direct channels might have happened. But he deserves his due process, Mr. Kushner. Let's see where it is. But it does bother me, too, because he is a good, smart guy, but he's a young guy. He's 36-years old. He's never been in government. You need some intelligence training, ethics training and how to conduct diplomacy. That's what seems to me looking from afar here.
WHITFIELD: All right, Governor Bill Richardson, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.
And we'll be right back.
[16:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: Now for a look at this week's "CNN Hero," for than two decades Jennifer Maddox worked for Chicago's police department. Frustrated by continued violence and limited opportunities for young people, she started Future Ties, a nonprofit after-school and summer program focused on providing a free, safe space for kids to find a positive purpose.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENNIFER MADDOX, CNN HERO: We are in a state of emergency here in the city of Chicago. The shooting, the killing, 5, 6, 7 year-olds, they're losing people that they love and care about. I'm a law enforcement officer but I'm also a mother and a member of this community. We can't arrest our way out of this. Once, I saw that there was another side to policing. I thought that I could do more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Well, to learn more about Jennifer, visit CNNheroes.com. And while you're there, nominate someone you believe should be a 2017 CNN hero.
All right, Manchester police say they have made two more arrests linked to last week's terror bombing at a pop concert where 22 people died, a total of 13 people are now in custody. Britain's home secretary is raising concerns that some of those involved in planning the attack could still be at large. And authorities are racing to uncover the full extent of the terror network. We are also seeing newly released images of the Manchester bomber. They were taken the night of the attack on closed circuit cameras. I want to bring in CNN's Atika Shubert from Manchester. So how great of a concern is there about another potential attack?
ATIKA SCHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a big concern, but having said that, a terror threat level has been reduced in part because police are now fairly confident that they've rounded up most of the network, or at least the first level of it. But of course, there are still the potential for others in the network to be out there. At least that's what Britain's home secretary said earlier today. I think what it really comes down to is the fact that the city
realizes it has to move on despite that fear. And in fact, today people came out for the Manchester run, a half-marathon, and there were balloons, people were running, despite heavy security. Nobody here was saying that they were afraid. They really wanted to come out and show their solidarity. So I think the city wants to certainly show that it will stand up to terrorists by continuing with the normal way of life.
WHITFIELD: We're also hearing the police may have found the site where the bomb was actually assembled. What more do we know?
SCHUBERT: Well, yes. This is one of the sites that we actually visited in the last few days. It's a short term rental in the city center, just about a mile and a half away from the arena. And it now looks like so it's the last place that Salman Abedi, attacker was at before he detonated those explosives. Now, what the police are looking at is whether that apartment was in fact the staging ground where he assembled that bomb.
We still don't know exact details but that's what police say. They released those CCTV photos in part to get the public's help and retracing his steps over the last few days to know exactly where he was and who he was meeting with.
WHITFIELD: All right, Atika Shubert, thank you so much at the site which becomes a memorial now paying homage to 22 killed and many injured. Thank you so much.
All right, thanks so much for being with me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Much more in the "Newsroom" straight ahead with Ana Cabrera.
ANA CABRERA, CNN NEWSROOM SHOW HOST: You're in the "CNN newsroom." Hello on this Sunday. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Great to have you with us. A fresh plot of uncertainty hangs over the White House tonight. President Trump is back in the West Wing returning from his first trip overseas
[17:00:00] less than 24 hours ago. He now confronts a growing controversy focused on Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner.