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AT THIS HOUR
Police: Tiger Woods Arrested On Suspicion Of DUI; Jared Kushner Facing Increased Scrutiny; Report: Kushner Wanted Secret Channel To Russia; U.K. Police Arrest Man In Connection To Attack; U.K. Police Release Pictures Of Bomber's Suitcase; N. Korea Stages Third Missile Test In Three Weeks; Assessing Trump's First Overseas Trip; Teen Thanks Heroes Who Saved Her From Attacker; Trump: "Violent Attacks In Portland Are Unacceptable". Aired 12:30-1 p.m. ET
Aired May 29, 2017 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:30:01] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: I'm seeing his mug shot there. It's not the Tiger Woods a lot of us are used to seeing when we see him out on the golf course. We know there was, of course, a big tournament this weekend, a big golf tournament that he did not participate in as you mentioned, as he recovers from his injury. Rosa Flores, thanks for that information. We know you're working to get even more details. We'll check back if you get those. Coming up, the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, it's widening now to include the President's son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner. We'll dig into that coming up.
CABRERA: The White House is backing Jared Kushner in defending any contact he has had with the Russians. Sources say President Trump's son-in-law discussed creating a secret communications channel with Moscow during a meeting with Sergey Kislyak, Russia's Ambassador to the U.S. during the transition. The administration is playing down the reports with Homeland Security Secretary, John Kelly, saying he's not concerned about it. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KELLY, UNITED STATES HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Whatever the communication, this comes back into the government and shared across the government, so it's not a bad thing to have multiple communication lines to any government.
[12:35:06] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Using their equipment in their diplomatic facilities?
KELLY: Well, again, don't know all -- I don't know if all of that is true. I would just say that any line of communication to a country, particularly a country like Russia, is a good thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: President Trump also defended his son-in-law in a statement saying, quote, "Jared is doing a great job for the country. I have total confidence in him. He is respected by virtually everyone and is working on programs that will save our country billions of dollars. In addition to that, and perhaps more importantly, he is a very good person."
Joining me to discuss, Bill Press, host of "The Bill Press Show"; Ben Ferguson, CNN Political Commentator and host of the "Ben Ferguson Show"; and Caitlin Huey-Burns, national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. Welcome back, guys. Thanks for sticking around. Then we just got some new sound that dropped from John McCain, Senator John McCain, talking with ABC Australia. We just heard from John Kelly, but McCain has a different take. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: My view of it is I don't like it. I just don't - I don't - I know that some administration officials are saying, "Well, that's standard procedure." I don't think it's standard procedure prior to the inauguration of a President of the United States by someone who is not in an appointed position.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Ben, how concerning is this new reporting about Jared Kushner in your mind?
BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND THE BENFERGUSON SHOW HOST: It's not that concerning to me. First off, with what John McCain just said there, there's an awful lot of people that are not appointed before January 20th, but there's a reason why they called it transition team. And we should expect anyone who is about to become the President of United States of America for his transition team to make sure to have an open dialogue Day One with other countries, especially countries like Russia. We would have want that and encourage there to be a communication dialogue there that they can have a rapport. Because what you don't want is on January the 20th, if something happens in the world, you don't want to be calling for the very first time and have no diplomatic relations personally or no personal connections with foreign leaders. You want to make sure that you start off if it is a bad day for the world, being able to have a real (INAUDIBLE) conversation.
CABRERA: Yes. I hear you. I hear you. But why do it in a secret way, suggesting he would go to Russia diplomatic facilities to have conversations with the President so that it wouldn't be an arena in which American officials would know about it?
FERGUSON: Again, this is the keyword "allegedly" they're saying that this is how it would have been set up. We don't know that for a fact. Second thing is this. You want to be able to have a blunt conversation with foreign leaders. And sometimes you need to make those foreign leaders and their countries feel comfortable enough to have a real conversation with you because I think it's very clear from all the leaks that have come out with Russia, in general, that they did not trust having a conversation with the United States through the channels that many would refer to as, quote, "traditional".
So if you need to have a blunt conversation and you can't always have that conversation face-to-face, that is not an issue for me, especially if it deals with our interest and also issues of national security, et cetera. Look at the leaks that just came out of the White House meeting with the Ambassador. Can you have another blunt conversation moving forward? And that conversation from what we understand was actually about national security of people flying on planes including Americans that could be targeted by ISIS and terrorists with bombs on a plane. That's a conversation I want to make sure that world leaders have, not one where they hold because they're afraid that someone might actually tell it to the public.
CABRERA: OK. Let me get Bill in here. Bill, is this an issue in - issue to you?
BILL PRESS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR AND THE BILL PRESS SHOW HOST: Equal time? All right. Let me just say this. First of all, I think this is amateur hour at best on the part of Jared Kushner. I think the White House says two things they ought to be concerned about. One is substance. And you've laid out the substance, that Jared Kushner, December 2016 has an off-the-record, unannounced meeting with Ambassador Kislyak and some big Russian banker talking about establishing a backchannel communication to Russia using Russian equipment, raises at least two questions, why Russia? That seized Crimea, that's invaded Ukraine, that's bombed the hell out of Syria, why Russia, and who told Jared Kushner to hold this meeting? You know he did not act alone. That's the substance.
On the optics, what we're going to see right now is not just outsiders like Michael Flynn or Paul Manafort or Carter Page testifying in front of Congress but a member of the President's inner circle, a member from the -- right from the inside the Oval Office now testifying in front of Congress.
CABRERA: In the current administration.
PRESS: In this administration. I don't care how you slice it, that is not good for the Trump White House.
CABRERA: Caitlyn, we heard from the President that statement we read here at the top of the segment saying essentially he stands behind Jared Kushner, but The New York Times is reporting that some inside the administration officials, they're talking to or suggesting there is some daylight that's starting to develop. What does that tell you?
[12:40:13] CAITLIN HUEY-BURNS, REAL CLEAR POLITICS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Right. I think that's going to be really interesting to watch, because you talk to experts and say this kind of investigation is going to last a really long time. This is not just a couple of weeks or a couple of months, right? And so, given Jared Kushner's portfolio within the White House as we know, he is working on a variety of different issues reportedly in the White House. He is the closest person there to the President to have this lingering over him really kind of threatens the agenda in other ways. But we also know that in terms of being an adviser to the President that he has also played a critical role. And so to - according to The New York Times reporting, to see some of that tension play out is something that we really haven't seen really publicly before. But I also kind of wanted to hit on a note that Bill mentioned was the other thing to think about during this and these communications is that this was after we knew that Russia had meddled in the election, right? So to open -- to talk about --
CABRERA: Contact and timing.
BURNS: Exactly. Context and timing is important here. And particularly that -
FERGUSON: Hold on. Let's be clear.
BURNS: That undisclosed meeting with the Russian bank was also a key part during the transition.
FERGUSON: Hold on. Let's be clear.
CABRERA: Ben, we'll give you a quick.
FERGUSON: The President had been elected. The President had been - had been elected. He was President-elect -- you can't have it both ways. A moment ago, Bill said, well, we know that Jared Kushner didn't act on his own. Now, we're saying that there's tension between the President and Jared Kushner like he went rogue on his own. You can't have it both ways here with all the conspiracy theories. The fact is the President was elected and the President has people around him that are actually out there doing their job.
CABRERA: Make your point, Ben, and let Bill respond. We got to go.
PRESS: All right. The President - the President was elected with the help of Russia. We know that now. And Caitlyn's point is excellent. To me -
FERGUSON: It's just not accurate.
PRESS: To me specific -- yes, it is. 17 intelligence agencies. 17 intelligence agencies versus Ben Ferguson, I believe the 17 intelligence agencies.
FERGUSON: You're saying Putin and Russia (INAUDIBLE) the American voter?
CABRERA: One at a time.
PRESS: Ben, let me just make my point, please. OK? The fact -- Caitlyn's point is very, very valid. To sit down with these Russians after what they did to interfere with our democracy, the timing at least is very suspect.
FERGUSON: You're the President-elect -
PRESS: Thank you for letting me finish. FERGUSON: So you're saying don't -
CABRERA: OK, guys, we've got to leave it there now, Ben and Bill and Caitlyn. Thank you all for the spirited discussion. I will say we've talked with a lot of intelligence officials in the last couple of days since this reporting broke and they all have repeated that this is not something that's in the norm in terms of their own personal experience. We'll continue to search for answers and the facts. Thanks again, guys.
More arrests in that Manchester concert terror bombing. North Korea testing another ballistic missile. Challenges facing President Trump on the international front. Details on all of these, still ahead. Stay with us.
CABRERA: Just today, British Police took another person into custody as they race to track down the terror network behind last week's concert bombing in Manchester. Now, the latest arrest is one of several in recent days. In fact, at least 17 raids have been carried out across the country just since the attack last week. And this is just in, we're learning the Manchester Police have released a couple of pictures of the attacker. This is Salman Abedi they say and a blue suitcase you see there. They're looking for anyone who may have seen him with this suitcase to come forward. That suitcase is different than the one he used in the attack.
Meanwhile, North Korea launched yet another ballistic missile in the last 24 hours. It's the third in a little over three weeks. Both South Korea and Japan issued strong protest against it, saying this missile splashed down inside Japan's exclusive economic zone where commercial ships are known to operate, so this is significant. I want to bring it General Mark Hertling, our CNN Military Analyst. And also back with us, Doug Brinkley, CNN Presidential Historian and History professor at Rice University.
General Hertling, I want to start on Manchester. U.K. Home Secretary Ashley Rudd acknowledged something yesterday that we are all learning after each one of these attacks. One, the scale of this problem, two, that ISIS is trying to weaponize the young people in society. So, General Hertling, what's your assessment, does the U.S. have a solid strategy to combat that?
GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST (via Skype): I think we have a very good security strategy inside of our borders and within our shores but it's going to be problematic. And I think there have been reports, I've read reports that said that it is easiest - the ISIS leaders telling their fighters that it is easiest to get weapons within the United States because of the low checks and balances on sale of weapons. So, yes, this does kind of fit in with the potential for continued terrorist attacks, but I believe and it's based on experiences I've had in Europe that the Europe - the various European countries are continuing to try and disrupt these attacks through the sharing and the use of various intelligence methods. But it's becoming more and more problematic, Ana.
CABRERA: And Douglas, there is really no equivalence in history, because the use of social media and our advancement in technology seems to be working in the favor of terrorists.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN AND RICE UNIVERSITY HISTORY PROFESSOR: Well, that's right. I mean, remember when President Obama grabbed ahold of the Arab Spring and thought that maybe social media was going to help the spread of global democracy. It may in some places. We don't know the social media that sips into China today might be helping with the human rights movement. But by and large it's become a tool for nefarious terrorist and outlaws outfits to organize. And we constantly have to be ardent in our fighting against this new form of -- let's call it cyber nuttiness. The fact that young people are susceptible to what's being put online. And hopefully, the Trump administration will be focusing on ways to shut down uses of social media in some of these places like Syria, Libya, and other countries.
[12:50:15] CABRERA: I want to ask about North Korea because again, three ballistic missile launches in as many weeks, three weeks or even less, really. General Hertling, we heard from the President today on Twitter talking about this. North Korea, he says, "has shown great disrespect for their neighbor." He writes, "China, by shooting off yet another ballistic missile. But China is trying hard. So, General Hertling, that tweet, of course, is in response to the latest missile launch. Interesting that he puts the ball in China's court in a lot of ways in that tweet.
HERTLING: Yes, I'm not sure. I read that tweet this morning, too, and I'm not sure exactly what it means. First of all, this is disrespect to all the world by the North Koreans. They have been sanctioned by the United Nations, sanctioned by other countries in terms of their programs. So, it's more than just China. And we're a part of this disrespect as well as Japan and South Korea. To lump it all in China's lap to solve isn't the correct approach. And I think the President and his administration as they build strategies against these kind of efforts are beginning to realize that if this had been a problem that could have been solved, it would have been solved a long time ago. All of these issues are very complex and very serious and it takes a multi-national approach versus a transactional approach between governments, bilaterally, to solve these kind of problems. Unfortunately, I think we're fallen behind based on some of the things I've seen with our alliances as opposed to our transnational approach or transactional approaches to this.
CABRERA: I'm glad you bring up the multi-national approach because the President just returned from his first overseas trip, met with a number of different leaders from several different countries. Douglas, how have you seen those trips now affecting a president and do you see this impacting President Trump? Will it change him?
BRINKLEY: Well, I think it must have felt good for President Trump to get out of the United States for a while. He certainly was feted in Saudi Arabia. I think he did well with Netanyahu in Israel. Things got murkier post Vatican when he met with what should have been the easiest part of the trip with our NATO allies. He seemed bombastic with our NATO allies, we have Merkel in Germany now saying that the United States, we may not be able to trust them, at least for in this era. And it seems to me that Donald Trump is ignorant almost of the whole Atlanticist tradition, the creation of NATO from Harry Truman, Dean Acheson, George Marshall, and down, that we don't insult each other. That NATO tries to be a unified alliance, we don't air our dirty laundry in public. We do it behind closed doors because solidarity is so important.
So I don't know who's giving him a thumbs up for the way he behaved during NATO but - that NATO meeting but, I think, the rest of the trip was probably a net plus for him.
CABRERA: All right. Douglas Brinkley and General Mark Hertling, our thanks to both of you. And again, Happy Memorial Day. Thanks for spending some of it with us. General, we salute you.
Coming up, we'll hear from the teen who says she wouldn't be alive if not for the three strangers who stood up to hate.
[12:56:35] CABRERA: On a day when we remember our fallen heroes, a teen is thanking the men who stood up to hate and saved her from a man with a knife on a Portland train. Two of the three men were killed. Destinee Mangum says the suspect, Jeremy Joseph Christian hurled anti- Muslim slurs at her and her friend who was wearing a hijab. But the heroes in the story confronted him. In turn, Ricky John Best, a 53- year-old military veteran was stabbed to death along with Taliesin Namkai Meche, just 23 years old, a recent college grad. The third victim, 21-year-old Micah Fletcher is being treated at a hospital right now with serious injuries. All three men were strangers to Destinee Mangum and her friend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DESTINEE MANGUM, TARGETED WITH HATE SPEECH: I just want to say thank you to the people who put their life on the line for me because they didn't even know me. And they lost their lives because of me and my friend and the way we looked. And I just want to say thank you to them and their family and that I appreciate them. Because without them, we probably would be dead right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Polo Sandoval is joining us now, he's following the developments. Polo, a lot of people wondered why the President hasn't talked about this incident that happened a few days ago but he did tweet about it this morning. What did he say?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, Ana. At least a message was posted on the official POTUS account this morning after that criticism, this weekend of criticism that the commander-in-chief perhaps was not quick enough to denounce this attack and also to honor these three heroes who stood up for these two young women. I want you - I want you to see her, at least to read this tweet that was posted just before President Trump took to Arlington National Cemetery for his Memorial Day remarks. He says, "The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable. The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are with them." And important note that his is on the @potus account, and not - and not the @RealDonaldTrump account that over and over has been used by the commander-in-chief as his primary megaphone to speak to the rest of the world. But nonetheless on this account, again, offering prayers to the families of these three heroes.
And I want you to hear from the family of one of those individuals, a veteran himself, Ricky John Best, a 53-year-old man who died on his way to the hospital after being stabbed. His son, Eric, the oldest son of this veteran speaking out, describing him more as a brother than a father.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC BEST, RICK BEST'S SON: He died fighting the good fight, protecting the innocent. That's how he would probably want it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANDOVAL: And still recovering in the hospital right now as you mentioned a little while ago, Micah Fletcher, the 21-year-old who was also seriously injured but is said to be doing OK at this hour, Ana.
CABRERA: Wow, what a story and what bravery those men showed. Polo Sandoval, our thanks to you, and thank you for being with us at this hour. I'm Ana Cabrera in for Kate Bolduan. Happy Memorial Day. Kate should be back with you tomorrow. Wolf Blitzer takes it from here. Have a wonderful rest of your weekend.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN WOLF ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer. It's 1 p.m. here at Washington, 6 p.m. in London, 8 p.m. in Moscow. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us.