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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

CNN: Trump Lawyers Make Offer for Mueller to Interview the President, Want to Limit or Eliminate Obstruction Questions; NY Times: Business Partner of Trump's Lawyer Reaches Plea Deal; Agrees to Cooperate With Investigators; Pres. Trump: "Disgrace to This Country" If FBI Placed "Spies" In His Campaign; President Trump: June North Korea Summit "May Not Work Out;" Lava Bombs on Big Island of Hawaii. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 22, 2018 - 21:00   ET

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


[21:00:58] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Negotiating the terms for a presidential talk with the Russia special counsel. On the table tonight, breaking news on efforts by team Trump to some how narrow the questions Robert Mueller can ask him.

Later, the President raising the spectrum of spies in his campaign and how his claims stand up to the facts.

Also tonight, one big question about the big summit with North Korea, will it even happen?

We begin tonight with breaking news and the talks about the President talking to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. CNN's Dana Bash has the latest on that, she joins me now.

So Dana, what more you're learning about this?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, my colleagues Evan Perez, Gloria Borger and I have learned that the President's legal team is trying to narrow the scope of any potential interview with the special counsel and narrow it to Russia-related matters that occurred before Trump was elected President.

Now, our sources are telling us that in order to try to avoid a standoff, one possibility that they're thinking about is limited Trump interview plus written answers to questions that special counsel clearly wants to ask about things happening during the President's time in the White House, like obstruction of justice. We know that is something the special counsel has been asking people about.

COOPER: Is there any indication this will actually work, that Mueller is willing to cut a deal, or is this just stuff that the legal team is kind of floating out into the public as a way of, I don't know, I guess influencing something?

BASH: That's a great question. Well, first of all, the answer to that question is obviously this is something that the legal team is trying to get out into the public, or at least entertaining in the public as a way to try to push Robert Mueller and his team along in this negotiation.

And our sources have cautioned us that when both sides are talking, they are just inching toward some agreement. And that's actually the way it was described to us. But Mueller has clearly suggested that he's not interested, for example, in the written answers to questions that Trump's legal team is suggesting. So, look, there could be a standoff on that, and this case may very well go straight to the Supreme Court if they can't resolve these issues about whether and when and how the President talks to Robert Mueller's team.

COOPER: And what type of interview are President Trump's attorneys I mean they're pushing for?

BASH: Well, I mentioned the in-person or oral interview would be about pre-presidency, and they're trying to get the written questions. But another really interesting thing that we were told about is that the President's team is demanding, really, that there will be and should be an audio recording if there is any, you know, in-person question and answer with the President, because as one source said to me, they want to make sure that everything that is said is -- by everybody is recorded and they have it, transcript of every T, every I that is crossed and dotted, so that they have it for history and obviously for legal purposes.

COOPER: Yes, Dana, thanks very much.

No shortage of things to talk about, joining us now is Kirsten Powers, Rich Lowry, Ryan Lizza, Alice Stewart, Paul Begala and Asha Rangappa.

Asha, I mean, is there any way you think that Robert Mueller would actually go for this idea, or just something just a trial balloon floated?

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, these just inflict another strand of spaghetti that they're throwing on the wall and hoping it will stick. I think what this essentially is, is a game of constitutional chicken.

And I don't think Mueller is going to blink. He wants an interview. I think he might do some reasonable accommodations but he is going to want to do it one on one and in person. And if he can't get that, I think he will issue a subpoena.

And I think Rudy Giuliani's team needs to be very careful. Because if this goes to court, the issue of whether the President can be subpoenaed is, in many ways, inextricably tied up with whether the President can be indicted. That is a legal question that's not been settled, ever. And that could be something that's an unintended consequence of something that gets challenged in court that may not go in the President's favor. And if that happens, that that opens up a whole new can of worms.

[21:05:06] COOPER: Ryan, I mean, do you see Mueller ever agreeing to not ask questions about anything that happens once Mr. Trump became president, or impossible obstruction of justice? RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I mean an investigative by the FBI but if the subject of the investigation is your obstruction of justice it seems that Mueller would want to ask questions about obstruction of justice. I mean, he's basically asking Mueller to shut down the part of the investigation that he's most interested in, right? He's basically -- Trump is saying, you know, that obstruction thing, you can't ask about that.

And I think anything that is coming up publicly about Trump's side is for public consumption, right? If there's something important that they're trying to privately tell Mueller, I don't think they would leak -- be leaking it to us or anyone else.

So I think what he's doing here is, he's trying to seem -- Trump's legal team is trying to put some arguments on the table for his defenders to say, huh, look at this. The White House made a reasonable deal, and if Mueller objects it and subpoenas him, they'll be able to say Mueller wants to go to an extreme. The President made a reasonable offer.

COOPER: Alice?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And you got to hand it to Trump legal team for trying to get this up in the court of public opinion. The problem is, this will be handled by Robert Mueller, and also you have to hand it to them for trying to limit the size and scope, and the time, and the duration and the topics that they interview, given the President's contempt for the judiciary, his disregard for the truth, it makes perfect sense for them do this because he will have difficulty being truthful in this and puts him in legal jeopardy.

So I think they're doing the right thing trying to limit the size and scope of this. They're going to have difficulty doing that because this is all in Robert Mueller's hand. He can tell them to go pound sand if he wants to because it just ultimately has --

COOPER: Do you think, Paul, it's smart to play this out publicly like they are?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. But that's I think -- you're exactly right. That's not what's going to be win or lose. This is a legal question that Asha points point. Can the President be subpoenaed? Of course, he can. I mean believe, I was the worst law student in the world and I know President Nixon was subpoenaed and he turned over the tapes, which he knew incriminated him.

President Clinton was subpoenaed -- they withdraw the subpoena because he agreed to comply. By the way, he testified two different times before Ken Starr, once in 1995 about his finances in the white water, one in 1998 about his personal life. He didn't want to do either of those things but he did.

No one is above the law and this is an incredibly easy case for Mueller to win. I think Trump has a track record of bending people to his will. So if he got that White House doctor, who is an admiral, to embarrass himself. Get out there and say Trump is 230 pounds. Trump's left leg is 230 pounds. Please, Doc., but he's not going to be able to do that with Mueller. He's not going to be able bend Mueller to his will. And he can try likes, but he's going to lose, he's going to have to testify or take the fifth.

COOPER: It was interesting earlier Michael Zeldin was on, Kristen, and he kept referring to the other lawyers on the President's team, other than Giuliani as the real attorneys and Giuliani as sort of the public face of the legal team. Do you think there's truth in that?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, that seems to be the role that Giuliani is playing. And it seemed from the very beginning that he chose Giuliani not for his legal insight, but more toward the fact that he'll go out and he'll be pugilistic and he'll kind of stand him for Trump in a way. He acts the way, the President Trump does. He just says whatever comes to his mind and he says things that aren't necessarily true and he makes crazy accusations --

COOPER: He's also named that people recognizes, both some of the other lawyers --

POWERS: Yes, and he's a star, I guess, to conservatives. But it's not behaving typically associated with lawyers, right? Lawyers usually are very button up and kind of come on and ballistic to the facts and don't get things wrong and not know all the detail. So I think it is more about him just being willing to say anything and be --

COOPER: Rich, do you see Mueller agreeing to any of these ideas?

RICH LOWRY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think there is some benefit to Mueller not having a drawn-out legal fight and this sort of negotiations are typical. Again, my view is Trump should do everything to avoid testifying, because even if he's determined to tell the truth, the chance that he might speak too loosely or exaggerate or just innocently contradict what someone else has said.

You look at the Scooter Libby case, there are a lot of people that we know and trust, Ari Fleischer, the late Tim Russert, who said contradictory things about those are relatively minor case, the Russians have a phrase no one lies, I can eye witness, they're always kind of contradictory memories even if people are trying to tell the truth. So I think he should fight this in court, if it comes to that. It wouldn't surprise me it's kind of breaks down along the lines or trying to set up here where he would have to talk about Russia during the campaign, but he would have the case based on executive privilege that he wouldn't necessarily have to answer these questions about obstruction.

LIZZA: What's the legal argument for the President not cooperating with a duly predicated criminal investigation?

LOWRY: Well, I think --

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA: -- employee has to cooperate with investigation --

LOWRY: Well, I think --

LIZZA: -- and the President.

[21:10:00] LOWRY: I think in this case, since the President of the United States won, he's not just some low-level bureaucrat. There are more equities at work and two, yes, if there is some -- if Mueller can demonstrate there's some serious crime that the President of the United States is the only witness to, and is absolutely essentially, yes, then it's a lock-down case. Otherwise, it's going to be a little more ambiguous. And again, I don't think Trump would be guaranteed to win at Supreme Court but I think there's some of that.

LIZZA: So just in this case, the President didn't cooperate, not in anything because you don't think the crime --

LOWRY: I don't know what the crime is.

LIZZA: Right, I don't --

POWERS: The only one that knows the answers of the question why he fired Comey.

STEWART: That's right.

LOWRY: But that's not a crime.

POWERS: Will the obstruction of justice --

LOWRY: That's what the prosecutors investigating. That's why I think the whole obstruction part of this is illegitimate. It's worth talking --

LIZZA: Well, you can chance the --

LOWRY: Hold on --

(CROSSTALK)

LOWRY: So it's a lawful act for a President to fire an FBI director. If it's corruptly motivated, that's an abuse of power. That's not an indictable crime, it's an impeachable offense. It's a high crime misdemeanor. So that's why I think it's mistake to look at this all from a criminal --

STEWART: Where are you getting this from?

(CROSSTALK)

STEWART: You think it's illegal -- so when Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon explicitly to stop any criminal indictment of him, he was obstructing justice and that was a crime?

RANGAPPA: You can't pardon who are actually investigated potential --

(CROSSTALK)

RANGAPPA: -- of pardon, that's bribery. You can --

LOWRY: Bribery is different.

RANGAPPA: -- official act.

LOWRY: Bribery is different. Where is the bribery? Show me the bribery?

COOPER: Let her answer.

RANGAPPA: -- and there is a provision of the constitution which requires that the President take care that the laws be faithfully executed. To fire the FBI director precisely so that he can quash an investigation into himself or his associates is not faithful execution of the law. It's actually unconstitutional is almost like obstruction is built into the constitution. And also --

LOWRY: Look, the President can commit a crime, he can bribe someone, he can try to pay off witnesses but he can't commit a crime by just carrying out his lawful duties. Again, it's an abuse of power. It's not indictable.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Alice and then Paul.

STEWART: I want to believe he's innocent. I want to believe there is no coordination. I want to believe that the President has done nothing wrong. However, if your argument is correct and there was no obstruction then why would his legal team ask Mueller to take obstruction of justice off the table, and why would they request that anything that happen after he was nominated to be off the table that's one of the point that raise this question.

LOWRY: Because obviously the greatest possibility for a real crime here is to lie under oath. So you want to limit his criminal exposure. Most of Mueller's indictments have to do with people not telling the truth to the FBI. They're processed crimes. This is where special counsel investigations always go. So if you're in anyway, a target or a subject, if you want to limit your vulnerability --

COOPER: OK, Paul, and then we're going to go.

BEGALA: If in fact the president cannot be indicted. First, Rich is completely wrong that if president fulfilling his Article 2 obligations can commit a crime while doing them if it's for corrupt motive. But he's making this argument which I actually agree with, that a president sitting in office cannot be indicted. The problem is that from Mr. Trump is therefore if you can't be indicted, you may not have a Fifth Amendment protection.

RANGAPPA: Correct, and then you have no reason to not to be subpoena.

BEGALA: He's got to testify.

RANGAPPA: They don't have a coherent legal strategy. They make these arguments that are actually self-contradictory. If you accept one then he has to testify --

COOPER: Their argument is because there is no indictable crime, therefore, there's no need for him or there's no requirement for him to actually --

RANGAPPA: But then -- but that does not what Rich is saying, Rich is saying that he is subpoenaed he might --

LOWRY: That's what I'm saying, that's the legitimate way to do this.

RANGAPPA: But if he is, you know, if he can never be indicted including for perjury then, you know, he can go in and give testimony. There's nothing that should stop him from going in.

COOPER: All right, we're going to take a break. More breaking news, the President's attorney Michael Cohen, already under investigation now perhaps under more pressure not that his business partner just copped a plea.

Later, with all the talk of spies from the President and his supporters really says about a White House under pressure.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:17:48] COOPER: More breaking news tonight, Michael Cohen's partner in the New York taxi business, a man known as the Taxi King, not to be confuse with Smoothie King pleaded guilty to tax evasion charges, part of the deal according to New York Times, cooperating with state and federal prosecutors in other cases. Cohen is under federal investigation. Of course, he is, of course, the President's long-time personal attorney and self-ascribed fixer.

Back now with the panel.

Asha, in order to get the deal that the Taxi King, and I love saying that phrase, I'm going to as much as possible-- got, because I mean he was facing a lot of -- you know some serious charges and serious jail time.

RANGAPPA: Like 25 years per count and I think there were four counts.

COOPER: Right. How much and what kind of information would you have to have in order to get the deal that he got?

RANGAPPA: We are seeing the pattern again and again where people who are on the hook for some pretty serious crimes end up with a sweet deal, almost no jail time. This guy actually owed $5 million in back taxes. I think it was reduced to 50,000. I mean that's -- you know that's a good break, which means that he has got some information that is going to help persecutors in New York and it's going put more pressure on Cohen. And I think the idea here is to get Cohen to start cooperating because he's the big kahuna that's going to have the information that they've really want.

STEWART: And the Taxi King is going to be the canary king. He's going to start singing like a canary. Clearly in the New York Times pieces, the judge said to him specifically, do you understand the nature of the benefit your attorneys have provided for you? He said, yes, I do. Because for him to be able to get away from such a long term to now basic probation, he's going to say anything and everything they knows about Cohen, they know exactly what he knows and that's going to put a lot of pressure on Cohen to say anything and everything he knows about Trump. I'm afraid this is going to be really harmful.

COOPER: All though, we don't know, I mean, Kirsten, that this has anything -- it could lead anywhere to the President. It could be -- yes, it could very easily lead to Cohen but it could also end with Cohen and some shady business practices?

POWERS: Right. Yes, I mean this is a separate case basically. So now he is close -- if he's that close to Cohen, maybe Cohen has told him things, maybe he is in that orbit and maybe he knows things. But I don't know that -- you know, that, that's necessarily going to be what happens. I think this is more concerning to Michael Cohen, frankly. I mean, anybody in the position to have somebody like that that's that close to them and knows that much, basically being going to talk would be pretty scary.

[21:20:11] COOPER: Rich, if you were President Trump tonight, would you be concern about this or do you think it could just -- as we were talking about stay in the Cohen order.

LOWRY: I mean we need to know what Cohen is allegedly guilty of. If it's corruption in taxi evasion, no this isn't really going to implicate the President and you would think perhaps because Mueller handed this off, it doesn't directly involved this investigation but we don't know. All we know is that Michael Cohen is incredibly sleazy and in a lot of trouble.

LIZZA: I mean, I'd be looking and saying, oh men this guy was my business partner was all kind of trouble on his own and now they just gave him a really, really nice deal, and if I were the President -- I hope that doesn't happen to Michael Cohen that he is whatever the some district of New York is interested in him for suddenly -- that case sort of settled in a way but then allows him to a witness in the Mueller investigation. But the best case scenario for the President is, this is just about a taxi business.

POWERS: But Asha, is this a typical deal that they would give somebody just to get Michael Cohen, or is this something that seems bigger trying to get somebody bigger than him?

RANGAPPA: Bigger than Michael Cohen.

POWERS: Yes. RANGAPPA: I mean, I think that is a possibility, but remember that he was the one who is talking with Cohen every day. I think probably when he knows most about those dealings, but who knows what else he knows about. And I think it's important to emphasize that Mueller isn't the only person in the world that can open a case on the President. He has a mandate where he has to demand a certain scope of topics.

But -- and we've already heard about the red line about Trump's businesses. Those might be out of the scope of Mueller's investigation. I don't know necessarily that they are, but let's say they are. If the southern district starts uncovering things about the President's shady business past, they can open a case there. I don't think that's off the table. So it doesn't mean that he has to come and help Mueller, it could be that -- it could spawn more cases just in the southern district.

COOPER: Although, Paul, it's part of his plea, he has to basically help the state and also federal prosecutors?

BEGALA: A lot that seems to be a very sweet deal. To me it says a lot about Mueller, which is -- this is by my count the fifth guilty plea Mueller has gotten in one year by a contra here, right, contra which one over six and a half years --

COOPER: I mean, technically this is Mueller --

BEGALA: It's not really Mueller to spinoff of Mueller, so depends on how you count it, fifth or six depending on how you count it. But that's just one year. Iran contra they've gotten one -- two by now by one year. Whitewater had one in its first year. So Mueller, for all the complaining -- and look, I did the same thing. Starr was eight- years plus, so I think I got it right. But for all the complaint about Mueller he's moving really rapidly on a whole host of fronts and that's pretty impressive.

COOPER: There's more head. President Trump today rallied against the possibility that the FBI had I inserted it's -- he put a spies in his 2016 presidential campaign.

Up next, we'll talk to leading democratic senator about the President's latest accusations.

And later, the very latest from Hawaii where the Kilauea volcano is throwing off lava bomb, spewing mountain rocks, extraordinary pictures. We'll take you there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:26:36] COOPER: President Trump today erupted about the unproven accusations that the FBI inserted what he calls spies into his 2016 presidential campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A lot of people are saying they had spies in my campaign. If they had spies in my campaign, that would be a disgrace to this country. That would be one of the biggest insults that anyone ever seen and it would be very illegal, besides from anything else. It would make probably every political events ever look like small potatoes. But if they had spies in my campaign, during my campaign for political purposes, that would be unprecedented in the history of our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Just moments ago the President fired off a pair of new tweets, using the word spies capitalized a total of three times. Joining me now is Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, a member of the judicial committee. Senator, thanks for being with us.

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR (D) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Thank you.

COOPER: The President's allies say, look if there is no "there" there, what's wrong with having the inspector genera over the Department of Justice look into this and settle it once and for all?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I think you've already seen the FBI director, the intelligence director go meet over at the White House. They are looking into this. But what concerns me here is even if you look at the Nunes report out of the House, it's very clear that this investigation began when an aide to then-candidate Trump, Papadopoulos, was meeting with an Australian diplomat and said that there was dirt on Hillary Clinton that the Russians had. Even in the Nunes report, he says that is what started that information flowing to the FBI.

And even Senator Warner, who is a Ranking Member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on the shows this weekend that he had not heard of anything about this. And there are always sources in intelligence, but the President appears to be alleging that there was actually a spy embedded in his campaign that in his words has infiltrated the campaign, and that is very different.

Again, I think the very most important thing right now is there is an ongoing investigation being conducted by the former FBI director who was first appointed by a Republican president who has great credibility from both sides of the aisle. And everyone from Chairman Chuck Grassley, an ardent Republican, on down in the Senate has said to allow that investigation to be completed. And that is the position of Senator Warner and Senator Burr and we have a lot of bipartisan support for allowing this investigation to be completed in the Senate.

COOPER: Well, do you disagree with the President just using his own words that if there were spies in his campaign for political purposes that would certainly be unprecedented and certainly alarming?

KLOBUCHAR: That would be, but what we know now though that is not what we have heard. What we know is the how, and again, I'm quoting the Nunes report. How this all begin was actually from an outside and other country that got intelligence that, in fact, the Russians, a foreign power, was getting involved in the campaign. And the President's own intelligence has including then Coates has said Russia is getting bolder, that this in fact has happened and that's why there is an investigation about Russia's influence in the campaign. Those are the fact that established by his own intelligent head and that's why that is the investigation that has credibility to move forward.

COOPER: If a confidential source though has been interviewing people say, associated with the Clinton campaign, would you have rejected if Democrats wanted it to be investigated?

[21:30:05] KLOBUCHAR: Could you repeat that? If a confidential source?

COOPER: If a confidential source had been, you know, sent to talk to somebody who was working even on the periphery for the Clinton campaign and it was discovered, would you have reject it?

KLOBUCHAR: Not if there had been this fact scenario where you have the Russians trying to get involved in her campaign on either side. But what we know now was that, the chairman of the Clinton campaign actually had its e-mails hacked into the DNC, the Democratic National Committee was hacked into. It was Marco Rubio once said, it's one time, it's one candidate and one political party, the other time it will be the other. So, all the evidence points so that the Russians were involved in hacking into Hillary Clinton's campaign and doing things that were favorable to Donald Trump's campaign.

COOPER: Are you concerned the Democrats are not going to be in this meeting on Thursday between members of Congress and Department of Justice, the FBI and the DNI. Sarah Sanders said that they didn't even really want to be, which doesn't seem to be the case?

KLOBUCHAR: Yes. I think that you should always do things on bipartisan basis especially when it comes to intelligence.

But my bigger concern is not, who is at the meeting, but the possibility that classified information of course is allowed to be given to those members in the intelligence committee and house oversight but if that would ever get out there, first of all, that's a crime to put that information out there.

But my bigger problem is, you go back to the 4 9/11, Anderson, there were huge problems in our intelligence community that we hadn't gather information that we didn't have enough sources about what was going on in the world. There has been a major overhaul to try to get that information. To not be in silos, to exchange classified information and once you start breaking down that sacredness of those sources where you get information from sources, sources aren't going to go to our country and give us information. They'll go to other countries.

COOPER: Senator Klobuchar, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.

COOPER: Our panel weighs in ahead.

Also coming, some people in Hawaii now have to worry about flaming lava bomb. It's a pretty much what they sound like. We'll have an update from the island ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:35:50] COOPER: Today the President said a lot of people are saying they had spies in my campaign. But he's been pushing this idea for a while now. First it was the unfounded claims that President Obama wire tapped his phones at Trump Tower.

Then came this tweets, Sunday, I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled of the Trump campaign for political purposes, and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama administration.

Back now with the panel.

I mean, Ryan, the President just continue to use this word, spy, which is obviously when you hear the word, the idea of a spy infiltrating a campaign it does not seems to be -- I mean, a confidential informant asking about possible contacts with Russia, it seems to be a different things entirely, though?

LIZZA: Yes. It would be unprecedented and didn't happen. I mean, when I was thinking of this, I just -- can you imagine if you're Vladimir Putin right now and you're watching this from Russia and you're thinking, you put all of your best spies of this thing, all of your best spy craft to hack and steal data and to dump stuff and to try and penetrate the Trump campaign from every angle you could and the American president has decided that it's not Russia spies that he cares about, but that is American spies in his own government and that's where he wants all of us to be talking about. I just think Putin must have thought this is the best investment of his reign in Russia.

POWERS: He won the lottery.

STEWART: But the more he talks like this and uses this lingo and tweets like he just tweeted two seconds ago about the same thing, his base loves this, his base believes him, his base believe there were spies infiltrating his campaign. His base doesn't understand that a spy confidential informant is not a --

COOPER: And that's why he's doing it obviously.

STEWART: Exactly, and they are eating this up and this is tainting their view of this entire process.

BEGALA: And he usually does this stuff, you're right, for just that reason but I operate from the premise that he knows a lot more about this case than I do, right, and Mueller knows more than the President. He often will have this eruptions right before something real bad is about to break and I have no idea, but just look at the pattern when he's firing up his base for a reason. And I think he wants them to hold firm whenever the next big bombshell hits.

COOPER: Rich, do you agree or believe that this is part of an effort by the President to undermine the Mueller investigation?

LOWRY: Yes, of course, it's -- I mean, it's a classic tactic Pesticide use against special counsel or independent counsels. Paul is part of this effort against Ken Starr, it wasn't quite -- it didn't have the President tweeting everyday or using lured kind of language --

COOPER: Only Paul had Twitter.

BEGALA: Yes, exactly. But look the -- there is obviously reason to open a counter intelligence investigation against Russia for the meddling in our election. What isn't so clear is that there is reason to undertake a counter intelligence investigation of the Trump campaign. This is an extremely aggressive tactic, it appears to -- based on what we know to have been on extremely flimsy ground and it's something I think we need to know more about. So I'm fully in favor of the most transparent accounting we can have, the way the FBI and the DOJ handled both the presidential campaigns in 2016. The Clinton e-mail investigation in this.

POWERS: I don't know why it's on flimsy ground when it seems like they had reasons to believe that Russians were trying to infiltrate the Trump campaign --

COOPER: If George Papadopoulos talking to an Australian?

POWERS: Right. And so they were trying to find out what was going on. I mean, I don't understand what they were supposed to do where they suppose to just do nothing they were just sit back and do nothing. And also, you know, one of his other tweets, he talked about how the FBI was actually doing this to help the other campaign win. I mean, does anybody seriously believe this?

LOWRY: The FBI could have gone to the Trump campaign and said we have -- they do this kind of things all the time and say, we're worried about people --

(CROSSTALK)

LOWRY: -- rather than informant is a kind of spy. Obviously there is no one infiltrated and embedded within the campaign but --

COOPER: That is what he is saying?

LOWRY: Your question to Senator Klobuchar, this is opposite, all the arguments would be opposite and Democrats would be outrage about Bush administration undertaking a surveillance operation in the Obama campaign.

RANGAPPA: This is how the FBI conducts counter intelligence investigation, they are top secret, they are classified. You don't want your adversary to know what you know. So you don't walk into a campaign and say hey guys we open up this case on Russian spies. You say, you may be approached Russian agents, trying to get into the campaign, please call us. Here's your card. Did anybody call? No. [21:40:15] The FBI doesn't spy, they catch spies. And they did exactly what they were suppose to do here, which is soft out what the Russians intentions were in trying to send this people, four people into this campaign, OK, at least that we know of right now.

And instead -- what we should be asking is, why were these four people there to begin with?

LOWRY: I think this is a problem now. Russia was and is our adversary. The Trump campaign was not our adversary. And the problem is, you have had high level intelligence officials going on the outside, going crazy on Twitter and making it clear that they considered a domestic political campaign their adversary.

(CROSSTALK)

LOWRY: That is wrong and that's why --

LIZZA: Rich?

RANGAPPA: -- inside the FBI, you open investigations on individuals, OK. A crossfire hurricane is kind of an umbrella name for a number of sub cases that were on likely individuals that was connected to Russia. So it wasn't just the Trump campaign writ large. This is a standard counter intelligence investigation that probably followed additional protocols because it implicated First Amendment activity and change.

LIZZA: And it's just not true that Mueller is not going after Russians. What are the nationality of the majority of the people who have been indicted in this investigation?

LOWRY: No, no. I'm making point --

LIZZA: What the nationality? They're Russian.

LOWRY: If you're saying Trump campaign is the FBI's adversary, I think that's part of the problem.

LIZZA: You could said that the FBI was going after the Trump campaign rather than Russians --

(CROSSTALK)

LOWRY: No, no, the word was used of the Trump campaign that it was the FBI's adversary. And I'm saying that's on mindset it's problematic.

BEGALA: Rich, it's the notion that the President -- this is what he does, right? Like every autocrat he assaults truth first. He is President because the FBI, the FBI was investigation both candidates. They cleared Hillary and get crush and attacked her and they (inaudible) the election or opponent, they never clear Trump --

LOWRY: They haven't --

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: So if they had a spy in there to undermine the Trump campaign they did --

LOWRY: Possible, Paul, that the FBI stop in both --

COOPER: Let's take a break.

Is the summit plan between President Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un in jeopardy? Is it actually going to happen? The President says it might not.

Later also, a live report from the big island in the Hawaii where the volcanic eruption continues on the bedded hunks of molten rock called, lava bombs are being hurled at both property and people. We'll have a live report.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:46:38] COOPER: Almost lost in today's news about the Russian investigation. The President's attorney Michael Cohen talked with confidential sources was this, President Trump telling reporters at the White House that the planned summit with North Koreas Kim Jong-un may not in fact takes place.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: There's a chance that it will work out. There's a chance; there's a very substantial chance it won't work out. I don't want to waste a lot of time, and I'm sure he doesn't want to waste a lot of time. So there's a very substantial chance that it won't work out, and that's OK. That doesn't mean it won't work out over a period of time. But it may not work out for June 12th. But there's a good chance that we'll have the meeting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Back now with our panel. Joining us is North Korea expert Gordon Chang.

Gordon, do you think -- I mean, this summit is going to happen, are you surprise that it's run into these obstacles?

GORDON CHANG, COLUMNIST, DAILY BEAST: Yes. I think it will happen. It may not be June 12 in Singapore, it might be July 12, August 12.

But you know, Kim Jong-un, the North Korean ruler, has a real incentive to talk to the United States. And because of that, he is going to make is happen. And of course Trump wants it too. So you know, you got two leaders want to be in the same room shake hands. It will happen.

COOPER: The President is saying that Kim Jong-un's attitude shifted after talking to the leaders of China?

CHANG: Yes, this is really important because this follows yesterday's tweet where President Trump calls out the Chinese for sanctions busting. And this is -- I think significant for us because last year President Trump in a serious of tweets said look, I'm going to do on China, on trade because they're helping on North Korea.

Now they're saying, well the Chinese aren't helping on North Korea, then you got this trade talks going on at the same time. I think that Trump is going to actually sort of lower the boom on trade. We have the leverage to do that. So these two crises are going to sort of intersect and sort of feed each other.

COOPER: But the whole nothing of denuclearization, do you think South Korea kind of oversold what North Korea is actually willing to agree to him?

CHANG: Yes, I think Moon Jae-in, the South Korea President probably did that but we've also got to remember that we have the leverage, even short of the use of force to get Kim Jong-un to do things that he never thought he would do. So for instance tighten sanctions, not only on him but also on the Chinese and the Russians, his big power sponsors.

So Trump can do this. And that's why Trump can say, well, look, OK the meeting won't happen but it will still work out. I think he's thinking of sanctions down the road, especially on Chinese banks.

COOPER: Alice, do you think the President has a lot riding on this? Did he put too much on it?

STEWART: No, look, I think to Gordon's point, the date is not important, the denuclearization is. And I think we have to give the President credit. He has gotten North Korea to the table further than any other President has in decades, so I think we have to give him credit for that. I think it is important ideally if we would have had all these concessions in place prior to announcing when we were going to have the summit, but I think it's critical for us to be very firm on what exactly do we mean on denuclearization. It has to be complete and verifiable and irreversible. I think our definition of denuclearization is different than North Koreans and we need to get on the same page with that and then we can set a date in a place --

COOPER: You're saying, he has done no presidents have been able to, which is get North Korean on the table. But North Korea has always wanted -- I mean, one on one talks with -- I mean, am I wrong, one on one talks with an American president, has the U.S. actually gotten anything in return for agreeing to have these talks?

CHANG: Well, at this point we haven't really made concessions. I mean, you're absolutely right. You know, when you have Trump and Kim in the same room, that is a big concession to the North Koreans because that is legitimatization. And I know that the President try to sit down play up but that's true.

However, the North Koreans have giving up a lot. I mean, there have been all those pledges that Moon Jae-in has told us that Kim made and although I'm sure that Kim was cynical, those are markers that President Trump and the international community can hold the North Koreans to. That's really important for us.

[21:50:11] LIZZA: Haven't we modified somewhat joint exercises with the South Korea, isn't that a concession to North Korea?

CHANG: Well, it is. And of course, we did that for the winter Olympics because the South Koreans wanted us too.

You know, the U.S. military knew that the Olympics were coming a year ago, and so they anticipated Moon asking for those exercises to be postpone, which is what we did anyway.

BEGALA: But he has set -- the President has set the bar for this agreement in the way he has analyzed and criticized the Iran deal.

CHANG: Oh, yes. Big time, big time.

BEGALA: I think this is a worst deal ever in Iran where Iran has surrendered exported all over 90% of missile material. They're agreed to the most intrusive inspections and even the United States government says that they're complying and yet our President says that's a bad deal.

Gordon, how do you get a deal better? If the Iran deal is terrible deal, how does the President get a better deal with North Korea?

CHANG: Yes. I think the Iran deal falls down on inspection because they could have been tougher. Like this whole issue over, can you inspect military basis which is a live controversy. So it's got to be clear that any deal President Trump arrives at has got to be first of all, we inspect your military basis and by the way --

BEGALA: What does Kim's military say to him about that?

CHANG: They don't want that. Of course, but the thing is though, we not only have to inspect them once when they give everything up, we have to inspect them continually, that is going to be the big sticking point.

COOPER: But in a summit like this where it's two Presidents, and two leaders, I mean, the dictator and President Trump, isn't it all the work done -- I mean all the detail work is done in days and weeks and maybe months afterward. So they may come up with a framework for something but there's -- you know, the devil's in the details?

CHANG: Yes, normally this summit had worked out with, basically the deals has been struck and the two leaders meet and they just signed. And for instance that happened with Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un on April 27. This one's completely different. You have the summit first, then you work it out later. I'm not -- that's not a criticism but it is saying that this is a very unconventional way of doing things.

COOPER: We got to take a break. Thank you all for that. Stay with us, I have the very latest from Hawaii where lava bombs flying, molted rock. People's homes on the Big Island, thing are getting very dangerous. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:56:20] COOPER: You know you've had a bad day when the term, lava bomb is not something ab track and it's all too real. That's what some residents in the Big Island in Hawaii are facing tonight has eruptions from the Kilauea volcano continued to threaten more homes and people.

Civil defense authorities say the ash flowing from on overnight explosion reached 8,000 feet and the lava is growing closer to a geothermal power plant close since May 3rd because the eruption. Our Scott McLean is on location for us.

So Scott, you spoke to residence on Friday who only about 100 yards from the fissures, what happened?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Anderson, we're not just taking about any fissures here, we're talking about a fissure that was violently exploding every one or two minutes sending hot molten lava into every direction.

Darryl Clinton he is 57 years old. He was there to protect two of his friends' home. We were there for about 20 minutes to interview him and I can tell you, this was not a very fun place to be, even just walking up to the house was a life and death game of frogger and Clinton was staying there virtually around the clock for almost a week. He was armed with a fire extinguisher, a garden hose and some strategically place buckets to put out fires if lava hit the house. Lava bombs came through the ceilings in two different places, broke a window, they took out a septic tank, but none of this seems to faze Darryl Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DARRYL CLINTON, HIT BY LAVA BOMB: This lava bomb came and hit right here, so we put that fire out.

MCLEAN: The first day?

CLINTON: The very first day. Yes, this one here.

MCLEAN: Did that not make you think, hey I shouldn't be here?

CLINTON: No, we say it coming and you might want to step back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCLEAN: So what was amazing as you heard there Anderson is that he seems to know almost instantly based on the sound of the fissures was making whether we could relax or whether we should be taking cover.

But just a day after we recorded that interview he wasn't paying attention for just a few minutes on the phone when a lava bomb came flying and hit him on the leg. It was the size of a bowling ball. Luckily his ex-wife was there to take him to the hospital. She said, the intense heat of the lava somehow cauterize the wound there, stop it from bleeding as much as it might have the intense heat also started his porch on fire, luckily a neighbor came to put that out.

COOPER: I mean that's incredible, that's awful. How is he doing? I assume he's still in the hospital?

MCLEAN: Yes, we visited him today, Anderson, and he is in surprising good spirits, especially considering the fact that he has a rod in his leg. He will need more surgery on top of the two that he's already had. But the bottom line is he knows he's lucky.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCLEAN: I wonder if you recognize the fact that had there was hit you somewhere else you might be dead?

CLINTON: Yes, I've thought about it a couple times and it just scares me to think about it. It could have also missed me and went between my legs too. I think about that more, wouldn't that have been nice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCLEAN: Now the owners of these homes according to Clinton's say that they are immensely grateful for what he did, of course he didn't have to be there. Clinton says he obviously regrets getting hurt but doesn't regret staying to protect those homes. And to his credit, Anderson, both of them are still standing.

COOPER: Just incredible. Scott, please be careful. It just an extraordinary what's happening there. We'll continue to follow it.

Thanks very much for watching 360. That's all the time we have tonight, I'll see you tomorrow night. Time to hand it over to Don Lemon. CNN Tonight starts right now.