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Trump Confirms CIA Director Met With North Korea Dictator; Haley To White House On Russia Sanctions: "I Don't Get Confused"; Source: Trump "Annoyed" By Haley's Claim Of Sanctions; Trump Pivots: Now Says Comey Firing Unrelated To Probe; NTSB: Blown Southwest Jet Engine Showed "Metal Fatigue" Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired April 18, 2018 - 11:00   ET

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


[11:00:09]

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. For a president that doesn't hold back about, well, anything, he is now talking for the very first time on two wildly different issues. A secret meeting with North Korea and a presidential sex scandal.

After weeks of restraint, the president is responding directly for the first time to Stormy Daniels. In the tweet that he put out, he scoffs at the sketch of a man that she says threatened to silence her, claim she had an affair with President Trump. Total con job, he writes.

Also, this morning, the president of the United States is casually confirming the extraordinary CIA Director Mike Pompeo secretly traveled to North Korea and met face to face with the dictator, Kim Jong-un. The president writing that the meeting went very smoothly.

So, let's get to it. CNN's Kaitlan Collins is traveling with the president in West Palm Beach. Kaitlan, was the White House itself surprised at the president's tweets today?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Kate, you would think so since less than 24 hours ago, the press secretary, Sarah Sanders said the administration was not going to comment on the travel of the CIA director and then the president got on Twitter and did just that.

Confirming that "Washington Post" reporting that the CIA director, Mike Pompeo, traveled to North Korea over the Easter weekend to meet with the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, a meeting that the president wrote on Twitter this morning that it went well. It went very smoothly. A good relationship was formed.

He said the details for his summit with Kim Jong-un are being formed right now and then he added, "Denuclearization will be a great thing for the world, but also for North Korea."

So, what we are told now, Kate, is that we are hearing there are five or so sites selected at the moment as potential meeting sites for the president and Kim Jong-un himself. Among those are not only South Korea, but also North Korea, Mongolia, maybe Stockholm or Geneva, maybe a meeting at sea. But what this does indicate to us, Kate, is that these talks for the president and Kim Jong-un to meet, something that the president announced not that long ago, something that caught a lot of people off guard are certainly moving ahead very quickly here.

It seems a strong indicator that this meeting could certainly happen with the president just saying yesterday that he hopes that meeting could happen by early June at the latest -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right. Stand by to stand by on that one for sure. Kaitlan, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

So, from words on Twitter to a shocking war of words between members of President Trump's inner circle. It took all of eight words for the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to deliver a stunning stiff arm to the White House.

This began when Nikki Haley said on Sunday morning that sanctions against Russia for the chemical attack in Syria were coming Monday. Well, that didn't happen and then the president's new economic adviser explained it this way.

All right. Essentially, he said that there had been a bit of confusion on Nikki Haley's part. That, of course, being Larry Kudlow, "Haley could have left it there, but she did not, issuing a statement then to say, quote, "with all due respect, I don't get confused."

CNN's Elise Labott is joining me now with much more on this. Elise, what is going on here?

ELISE LABOTT, GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Kate, I think, you know, Nikki Haley has been one of the most ardent supporters of President Trump. Clearly, he gives her a lot of leeway to speak her mind, but she doesn't necessarily go out and give policy pronouncements that aren't true.

And I think, you know, when she said that she had every expectation leaving a meeting on Friday at the White House. That sanctions were to be announced against Russia and particularly companies that were supplying Syrians with helicopters or other ammunition that could be used for chemical weapons that they would be announced Monday or even sooner.

And so, it seems as if there was a miscommunication within the administration and when Larry Kudlow said that, he said that she was confused. She said wait a minute, you know, this is basically what she was saying in that statement and my understanding is that those sanctions will be released and very interestingly enough, Larry Kudlow made a mea culpa.

BOLDUAN: Yes, he did. I mean, he called and apologized to Nikki Haley, but what did he say? No matter what, where does that leave things?

LABOTT: Well, he called Nikki Haley and apologized, and he told her and also told media outlets that the plan was changed and that sanctions were to be announced and the plan was changed, and Haley was not caught in the loop.

Clearly, this goes to the larger issue about whether sanctions are going to be announced on Russia. The president has been reluctant to do things to escalate these tensions with Russia and it seems to be what Kudlow was saying and this is our understanding from talking to other officials that the president is, you know, putting a slow roll on this.

There are some reports coming out of Russia from the state news agency task that the White House even called the Russians and said sanctions are not coming. We haven't gotten any confirmation from the White House.

[11:05:10] Officially, the administration says that sanctions are still being considered so we'll just have to see, but where does that leave Nikki with the administration? I think, you know, look, every day it's something else and things will probably blow over.

But I think what Haley was trying to say is don't throw shade on me publicly. If there is something to discuss, let's discuss it in private, but I'm not sure that Larry Kudlow would have those comments about a man that he was confused -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Well, one thing is clear, she was very clear when she said, I don't get confused. It doesn't get much more clear in terms of an issue that is very unclear at the moment in terms of where things stand with sanctions, at least, she's clear. Elise, great to see you. Thank you.

Joining me now to discuss this and offer more clarity, maybe, Chris Cilizza, CNN politics reporter and editor-at-large, and David Chalian, CNN political director. Great to see you, guys. David, do you care to venture a guess on how this all really went down with Haley because it surely is not clear how this all went down and surely, this is also not a small thing.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, how it went down in Kudlow's apology, it seems that he also said, she had the information of what she understood the policy. The policy changed, and she wasn't in the loop. I actually that is a big part of the story here.

Obviously, the Nikki Haley brushback is one of the most amazing quotes in modern political history, but the -- what is exposed here, Kate, is a totally not buttoned-down, chaotic and disorganized foreign policy process right now inside the Trump administration that has senators on Capitol Hill completely confused about policy is, and it has members within his own administration talking out of two sides of its mouth.

BOLDUAN: Chris, Larry calls her -- Larry Kudlow calls Haley confused. Haley then responds, and Kudlow apologizes. What is Kudlow apologizing for, just what he said or the fact that he called her out publicly? Does that tell us everything that we need to know here, which is -- we have no idea.

CHRIS CILIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: I think he's apologizing that he did so publicly, right? And because she responded and then it became a thing and it was, like, who will blink first? And he blinked first.

But David is right, I think what you see here is -- remember, Nikki Haley didn't volunteer to go on all of those Sunday shows and talk about the economic sanctions that were coming against Russia. That was on purpose by the White House.

The White House's politicians have viewed Sunday shows to preview things coming in the week, so she quite clearly had been part of or at least instructed that they were coming. I think it's concerning if the U.N. ambassador is not part of that circle that maybe Larry Kudlow is.

That was aware that Donald Trump wasn't going to do this on the timetable that Nikki Haley was rolling out. That's the more important thing. The Nikki Haley clapping back on Larry Kudlow is very entertaining and one of the greatest shade quotes in modern politics.

But the more important thing is what changed or why was she not aware that something had changed when she was talking on Sunday on those various shows.

BOLDUAN: And David -- go ahead, David.

CHALIAN: If you look at what Nikki Haley said in that moment on a Sunday show, at one point she even questioned whether or not the policy may have already been --

BOLDUAN: Already been rolled out.

CHALIAN: -- she was, like, it's going to happen Monday, actually, and it may have already happened. I mean, she was so certain in her mind that this was the policy that she was completely blindsided that it had changed, obviously.

BOLDUAN: David, what does this mean for Nikki Haley? I also think that's a key question now. Should she be getting nervous that she will be getting the Rex Tillerson treatment, which is essentially getting publicly undercut by the president time and time again when you're trying to do your job?

CHALIAN: Well, this is not the first time that she has sort of been on her own and she's survived in the past when she's not singing in perfect harmony with Donald Trump. For the most part, she does, but I think that you raise a question, Kate, that every single person who serves in the Trump cabinet has to sort of ask themselves at a certain point.

Which is you wake up one day and you're a little nervous because you don't know what the president's attitude is towards you at any given moment and especially if your name ends up in a headline, how he responds to that is something, I think, every cabinet member in this administration needs to be concerned about.

BOLDUAN: Chris, do you see an upside for the president and how this is publicly playing out? Is this what he meant by a team of rivals here? CILIZZA: I mean, I do think he likes rivalry. There's no question and I don't even think he minds public fighting between people who work for him. I'm not totally sure how this works in his favor, however.

[11:10:01] Remember, this -- I don't want to say roll back of the sanction announcement, but Nikki Haley saying there will be sanctions now, at least we're not sure if there will be came hard on the news that Donald Trump was not happy -- the "Washington Post" reporting, Donald Trump was not happy that the U.S. had expelled 60 Russian diplomats when our European allies had expelled far fewer.

That was used as a talking point to see if he's getting tough on Russia. He wasn't happy about it because he didn't want to take the lead.

BOLDUAN: Chris, there were other examples, as well.

CILIZZA: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: I mean, he called Putin out by name for the first time saying the punishment is coming and of course, then actually delivering punishment in the strike in conjunction with France and the U.K. That's why it is also surprising at this moment that they're hesitating on the sanctions that were clearly discussed.

CILIZZA: And Elise mentioned this, and we don't have this confirmed. Obviously, there is a Russian news agency reporting the possibility that the sanctions are totally off the table. We don't have that.

Let's reserve judgment until that happens. I would say the Trump White House has more showing of how the sausage is made than almost any White House, no, than any White House I've ever seen. Usually people don't like to see how the sausage is made.

And maybe this is an exception since he's broken all the other rules, but let's wait and see if they do get to the sanctions that Nikki Haley talked about. If they do, this whole thing will just feel like a totally unnecessary episode.

CHALIAN: At the very least, Kate, it is just amazing that as much criticism that this administration has come in for, for the way Donald Trump is handling his relationship with Russia and Putin that this sort of the one thing at the top of the list of let's be buttoned down on everything we do related to Russia and that is still obviously not the case.

CILIZZA: That's right.

BOLDUAN: It begins with "r" and ends with "ussia" make sure we're all singing from the same songbook and still, Chris Cilizza, I don't care how you spin it, watching sausage being made is still gross and disgusting.

CILIZZA: It is. Delicious to eat.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, the president's new attack on porn star, Stormy Daniels. Why now and could his words come back to haunt him.

Plus, passengers are describing the terrifying revel midflight that left one passenger dead and what we are hearing about the woman, the female pilot, who is being called a hero and the investigation that's just getting under way.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:16:27]

BOLDUAN: We've already talked about more Washington whiplash coming from the White House today. Well, there is more. This time over the shocking firing of FBI Director James Comey. You will probably definitely remember this admission from President Trump way back when.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: But regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it, and in fact, when I decided to just do it I said to myself. I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Russia was on his mind. Well, now the president seems to be in another argument with himself tweeting this today, "Slippery James Comey, the worst FBI director in history was not fired because of the phony Russia investigation where, by the way, was there no collusion except by the Democrats."

So, one, Donald Trump is not telling the truth, it seems. Which one do you believe? Here to discuss is Jim Schultz, CNN legal commentator, former attorney in the Trump White House, and CNN contributor and former Nixon White House counsel, John Dean. Great to see both of you. Thank you for coming in.

Jim, why is the president trying to revise history on this one. The tape is there, he said it was Russia.

JIM SCHULTZ, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I'm a little confused by it myself, but I have to say he did say he was going to fire him anyway and that was in the context of memos that had come across his desk recommending the firing of Jim Comey by officials at the Justice Department.

And in addition to that, he then goes and discusses Russia in that Lester Holt interview and then tweets this today. I mean, it's tough to crawl into the head of the president on this, but I think what the president is saying is, look, Jim Comey was not a good FBI director.

That was agreed -- that folks at the DOJ agreed to that. Folks at DOJ recommended that he be fired, but I'm still not sure why the president is raising this today. It doesn't make a whole heck of a lot of sense unless he is looking at the television set, seeing Jim Comey out there, you know, on his moral high horse and just getting frustrated.

BOLDUAN: And that is almost always the most likely reason exactly. John -- that he's watching television. John, this is no small thing, though. This question on what Donald Trump said in that Lester Holt interview and why he fired James Comey and this is key to the question of obstruction of justice. Is this a perfect example of why Donald Trump's attorneys might not want him to face an interview with Bob Mueller?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's exactly the reason they don't want him talking about this and he's setting himself up for some dandy cross-examination in some phase and it is another version, when he told the Russians when he visited the oval office unannounced to the rest of the world, and you know, he must be slipping a little bit.

He's called Comey a slime ball and now he's calling him slippery, and he's generally, very good and genius coming up with nicknames and these names don't stick at all to me. I don't see where they come from.

BOLDUAN: Well, regardless of the name calling, Jim, his attorneys have been concerned about Donald Trump talking to Mueller's team. We know that, but also his attorneys and basically it seems almost everyone else around him has also been concerned about him talking about another topic and telling him to stay away from another topic which, of course, which of course, is Stormy Daniels.

He has maintained discipline really until now taking to Twitter again this morning to slam the sketch that she and her attorney put out. Here is the tweet that he put out. Did Donald Trump just fall for a trap?

[11:20:03] SCHULTZ: So, in this instance -- look, I've represented public officials in high-profile matters in my entire career and the less talking the better as it relates to these matters. When he went to the back of the Air Force One and started talking about Stormy Daniels, next thing you know, you see subpoenas flying.

Now, you have this instance where he's talking about Stormy Daniels again and let's face it, there's not a whole lot of upside for him to talk about this publicly. It's not impacting -- all of the things going on, it's not impacting him politically whatsoever.

His numbers are going up and they're going up because of things like regulatory reform, the economy, tax reform, judges and all of the things he promised to do on the campaign and want not a whole lot of upside to talk about it.

BOLDUAN: Yes, I mean, John, do you think that he's falling for a trap? Because Stormy Daniels' attorney, he was tweeting out that he sure thinks that he did. Not fall for a trip, but he seemed to sure be celebrating on Twitter that the president has now spoken out finally basically kind responding to them directly.

DEAN: I think they're pleased that they're actually engaged with him now. They've got his full attention. They weren't sure before and the Twitter account makes it very clear and I don't think we've seen the end of it because obviously, Mr. Trump has trouble putting down his phone when he wants to tweet. He just doesn't seem unable to restrain himself and why he walks into this, I don't know. It will all come back to roost for him, though.

BOLDUAN: Jim, this also brings us bring to the real-life court battle that's going on over the investigation into Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, all of this is related, of course, who is the man who paid off Stormy Daniels.

Today, Cohen's attorney submitted names of former prosecutors that could serve as the independent monitor to kind of comb through all of the stuff that was collected by the FBI in that raid to figure out what's privileged and what's not. The Justice Department is going to do the same thing. What kind of person are they likely to end up with? What does this mean?

SCHULTZ: I think both sides are going to suggest people that have very good reputations in the criminal justice and defense community. They want someone who is going to be respected by both sides of the bar. And I think eventually they'll come to an agreement on this because ultimately what they're trying to get to here is fairness on both sides so that both sides are getting a fair shake and some of the material that may be privileged isn't leaking into the investigation unnecessarily and unlawfully.

BOLDUAN: John, just kind of leaning on your political history. We have more reporting that the president is apoplectic on the raid and what the FBI could have even on him. You have been up close when a president is under intense pressure, in the spotlight, and facing a federal investigation. What does this kind of pressure do to a president in the White House?

DEAN: Well, Nixon, of course, did it behind closed doors primarily. Trump tends to be more out, and the word gets out faster or shows up in his Twitter account. What Nixon did to deflect attention was use the world stage where he was very familiar.

We see a little bit of that with Trump, who is just learning his way around the various hotspots about the world, but Nixon left the country and would draw attention with the camera coverage on him in Egypt or the Middle East, wherever he might see a problem, he could go and quench a fire and that was good for his publicity during that time.

So, it was an effective tool and remember how protracted Watergate was. It went on for 920-some days so he had a lot of time to do it. We're still pretty early in this and Trump has aren't mastered the art of foreign deflection yet.

BOLDUAN: When we mark that 921 days and this, if we get there. Let's discuss what happens next then, John. Great to see you, John. Thank you, Jim. Thanks for coming in.

Coming up for us, they say she had nerves of steel. Passengers are praising the female pilot who safely landed that Southwest jet that lost an engine midflight. One passenger died, and we are learning new details about what happened to her when the engine went out. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:28:22]

BOLDUAN: New video just in released by the National Transportation Safety Board and it shows investigators examining the Southwest airlines plane after that massive engine failure midflight that forced the plane into an emergency landing in Philadelphia yesterday. One passenger died after being partially sucked through a broken window. Listen to this.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL: Injured passengers, OK. Is your airplane physically on fire?

PILOT: Not fire, but part of it is missing. They said there's a hole and someone went out.

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL: I'm sorry. You said there is a hole and somebody went out? 1380. It doesn't matter. We'll work it out there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Investigators now say the failed engine show signs of metal fatigue. Much to learn in what happened here. CNN's Polo Sandoval is in Philadelphia with much more of the details. Polo, what are you hearing there?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mainly about the pilot, Kate, Captain Tammy Joe Schultz, a woman who passengers said had nerves of steel yesterday when she and her other colleague managed to land that plane safely here in Philadelphia. We do, after all, know why she sounded so cool, calm, collected in that recording that you just played.

She was, after all, according to the Navy one of their first female fighter pilots and spent time in California, training future pilots, as well. And what happened 24 hours ago when she heard that the 737 she was flying with all those people onboard literally had a hole in the plane.

We now know that there was a woman that was at least partially ejected at one point as you're about to hear from one passenger, it took in their own words, several minutes to finally be able to pull that woman back into the cabin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)