tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN May 12, 2017 8:00pm-9:01pm PDT
president trump making a veiled threat to former fbi director james comey. this is cnn tonight. i'm don lemon. the president tweeting, james comey better hope there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press. here's a question. did trump's firing of comey this week dampen the investigation into russia's meddling into the election? some answers in just a moment. and it's not a bird or a plane, but melissa mccarthy,
playing sean spicer speeding around the streets of new york on the briefing room podium. joining us now, is the former u.s. ambassador to russia. and a former kgb spy who's the author of "deep undercover." good evening to all of you. cnn learned today that deputy attorney general rob rosenstein doesn't see a need for a special prosecutor in the russian meddling, do you think that's the right decision? >> no, i don't. i think that the firing of comey and all the things that have happened in the last few days, just underscore the need for an independent prosecutor, or a 9/11 style commission, something that would elevate this to something that would have more credibility. unfortunately, it looks like the republicans and the senate
aren't prepared to do that. i think they're in effect bec e becoming accomplices after the fact to the trump administration. >> look at these pictures, pictures like this with the foreign minister lavrov, joking about director comey's firing. listen to this. >> does the comey firing cast a shadow over your -- >> what would a white house russian policy even be at this point? >> well, i think it's not completely impossible to get the focus back on policy and away from these scandals and investigations. but the administration just keeps tying itself up in knots, the handling of lavrov in the oval office, coming just after
the firing. just gave the impression that the president either doesn't believe or doesn't care that the russians tried to hijack our elections. but i hope that some lessons can be learned after this horrible week and we can actually get down to the business of developing a policy towards russia, the world isn't going to wait, the situation in syria gets worse and worse, in the ukraine, there's still an undeclared war going on. and the president could maybe make a difference to get the russians out of eastern ukraine, but everything's being swallowed up by these scandals and by the mad tweeting. >> jack, you say you're distraught over what's happening, why? >> well, the lack of class, the lack of understanding what's going on, the lack of, you know, awareness that you're playing in -- you're playing hardball in
the international arena, all of this is really disconcerting, particularly, when we're talking about the head of our government showing a phenomenal level of naivete in this realm. that's not just about the russians, it would apply to everything especially in foreign policy. and apparently he doesn't listen to advisors, assuming they're actually talking to him. >> how is all this being perceived in russia, jack? >> they're running victory laps, absolutely are. this is what they're after. and they have succeeded beyond their wildest expectations. >> a.g. rosenstein has agreed to testify next week as to the firing of james comey, do you think we'll get any clarity as to what actually happened? >> i think this scandal has so many layers, i think we're at the very, very beginning of this. and if you think about, i'm not
the first one to draw parallels to watergate. they have been floating in the air all week. it took almost two years from the beginning to the end when nixon resigned. so i think we're at the first week in what could be a very long process. but what's really ironic about rod rosenstein, he was a bureau cat, people who know him say that he made the doj a way of life, known to be a very impartial, his reputation going into this was that he was impartial, he was apolitical, he was just about the doj and the rule of law, and the way the public finds out about him is in this very politicized, very toxic scandal and that he's now going to be forever associated with. even if this doesn't end in impeachment or the removal of the president, it will still go down in american history as a
ma massive, massive scandal and rod rosenstein will be at the center of it while he was trying to be the opposite. >> james comey will not testify before the senate intelligence committee. tonight comey wants to testify, but he's insisting it be in public. what's your reaction to that? >> we don't know that he won't testify. he turned down an invitation, he can be compelled to testify. if i were him, i would wait until i was compelled. if he went on invitation, it will make him look very partisan. if he is compelled, he's doing what he's being made to do. he's not voluntarily sinking to this much lower level. >> ambassador, who do you think
of the reporting tonight of the "new york times" he wants to do it in public? >> i think he feels that he's been mistreated this week, so i think he wants the public to hear, not just the committee to hear his side of the story. but i think the important thing is that who's going to be the next fbi director, is the investigation going to be allowed to continue without political interference, that i think is the most important thing, but comey needs to have his say. and explain why he asked for additional resources or additional personnel, where the investigation is going, doing it in public, i think, is better for the public and better for him. >> jack, what do you think about how the white house feels about this, they may not want him to do it publicly. >> yeah, the whole way this all transpired is, it's bizarre, really, it's totally bizarre, where, you know, one day, it was
the assistant district attorney who triggered the firing, and the next day, trump actually disagrees whole heartedly in public with that. and so that threat was another one of those tweets about he better not leak anything. why would trump even assume that there is a leak? and you don't know what he's playing, whether he has a game pan or he's just loose. it's very difficult to discern from the you. >> jack, we talked about this tweet last night, and said russia must be laughing up its sleeve for interfering the election and today sean spicer was asked about it today. >> another of the president's quotes today, russia must be
laughing up its sleeve watching the u.s. tearing itself apart over the elections. >> i think the u.s. comments about russia and collusion have been very clear, respect to some of the charges that have been made, he's been very clear that it's one thing that he believes that the notion that there's collusion is a hoax, it's been reaffirmed by several people, including senator grassly and others who have spoke on the him and he wants to focus every day on doing what's best for the american people. >> does it get to the bottom of what happened at best for the american people. >> absolutely, and i think our president should just stay out of it. you know, it's like his feelings are hurt all the time. he's acting out like the narcissist that he is, and, you know, this doesn't help anything or anybody. and he's not acting presidential.
>> ambassador, the president goes overseas next week, how do you think he's going to be received? what is the world thinking about this, looking at us from across the shores. >> well, i think the effects of all the events of this week unfortunately damaged the president's credibility and it raises questions in the minds of foreign leaders, whether they can take him at his word because his grasp on the truth is so tenuous. but at the same time, he's got important responsibilities on this first trip, visiting saudi arabia, he's going to have his first summit with nato, that's less than two weeks away, yet we haven't heart from the president, what is his vision for the trans pacific partn partnersh partnership. so hopefully he'll refocus in the coming days. certainly i don't think he wants
a repeat of this week, and maybe we'll hear some ideas how he's going to better strengthen security, how he's going to fight isis, how he's goithese a things he should be tweeting out early in the morning, instead of mysterious tapes that may not exist. >> jack, you say that we aren't going to win this and we'll lose influence in the world. >> we're not going to win this as long as we're shooting arrows at each other. i think what needs to happen here is cooler heads should prevail and determine who the fall adversary is. >> thank you all, i appreciate it. when we come back, was com y comey's firing the beginning to the end of trump's presidency? i will speak to somebody who says it could be. is is your new. and a perfectly inconspicuous suv.
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president trump tweeting an apparent ouster to fbi director james comey suggesting that their conversations may have been recorded. comey says he's not worried about any tape recordings. this is a crazy week. i think i tell you that every time you come in. it's a really tumultuous week for the donald trump administration, starting with the firing of fbi director james comey. do you think this could be the beginning to the end of the
presidency. >> i think it could be, because we have a president that's issuing executive orders and can't get a law through congress. maybe he has some tapes, maybe billy bush is in them even. he seems to be antagonizing the entire fbi, and nothing's going to happen, there's not going to be a tax bill, there's not going to be a health care bill. >> he says something and then it's contradicted, or his people say something and then he contradicts it. and people don't really know what to believe. i think it's throwing everyone off. >> there's no baseline of reality, the problem is if you have the vice president of the united states, the president and the press spokes people, all giving a different version of events, then reality is gone.
>> is the administration not accountable for anything? here's what you say, you said in your latest column. a white house gang this insular, this politically naive and this transparent in it's mall la detroit efforts in deflection of the deposition. no one in the west wing apparently even considered that it might look bad. then there's a firestorm, and they didn't realize it was going to be a firestorm. >> they read a bunch of liberal columnists who said they didn't like james comey because of what he did with hillary clinton and he thought that that represented the democrats and the whole opposition. but it's a fire storm and at some point they have to govern. and if you can't even arrange a
photo-op correctly, how are you going to govern? and particularly his voters, his base that have been very loyal are going to be affected by it. he hasn't had a national disaster yet where he has to run things. >> his approval ratings are in the 30s and that's pretty low. dianne feinstein said that rod rosenstein should recuse himself from the investigation. he's going to speak to the senate next week and give his testimony on the firing of comey. she also thinkhe's compromised and he needs to recuse himself. >> i don't know what a recusal means, he really should resign, because jeff sessions, the attorney general, his boss, supposed supposedly recused himself from the russian investigation, and
ro rosenstein who had this stellar reputation, supposedly. >> rosenstein said that he doesn't think there viennese to be a special prosecutor. >> would a special prosecutor interfere, if a special prosecutor would be named. first of all where do you come down on that. >> i don't think i can do my job, which is to lead this investigation. so i'm not in favor of a special prosecutor and i'm not sure the committee can carry out its responsibility, can come to a conclusion. so i'm going to continue down that path. >> so earlier in the week, reports showed that he was leaning towards a special prosecutor. >> burr was. >> but now he's saying he doesn't think he'll be doing his jobs, duchk we'll get to the truth of the investigations that are only going on.
>> mark warner who says a democratic partner, it has national political ambitions, that are not going to sit around and lie down for a rigged investigation. still, i think we need an idependent counsel, and we also need a thorough fbi. >> do you think it will slow down, because jeff sessions is saying he won't call for a special prosecutor. >> based on watergate, i think we can have several paths at once. i think that's a bogus argument. but i think it's going to be speed up, because i think people are going to lawyer up. they're going to start talking to the press. this administration can't contain the leaks, no matter how hard they try. >> the president had a tweet storm this week, he said as a very active president with lots of things happening, it's not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect
accuracy. maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future press briefings and hand out written statements to ensure accuracy. >> the written statements are also inact root regarding comey being fired. >> that i'm never cancel that. and i love that he's this active president. he is sitting around watching television news and eating junk food and occasionally going to play golf, and sending out executive orders that are photo-opes. the fact that he's this active president is false. speaking of exclusive reporting inside a horrific gas attack in syria.
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military strikes against the regime of al assad. clarissa? >> reporter: i do want to warn our viewers that this is extremely disturbing material. and if you have children at home, you might want to have them leave the room. when the chemical attack hit the town, some very brave journalists from the aleppo media center went straight to the scene, at enormous personal risk. the footage they shot offers an unvarnished, unsanitized up close look at the horror of a war crime, which is why we felt it so important to show. the attack happened shortly after dawn. the cameraman says that warplanes are targeting the town. from his rooftop, he quickly sees this is no ordinary strike.
they are using toxic gas, he reports. five minutes after the attack, there was a call for anyone with a vehicle to go to the scene to help, he says. i headed straight there. but nothing could prepare him for what he was about to see. we must warn you, these images are shocking. it is a scene of unimaginable horror. the immediate after math of a chemical attack. the number of victims keeps going up, adam explains and many are women and children. all around him people are foaming at the mouth. convulsions racking their bodies.
as rescue workers try in vain to wash away the chemicals. look at the kids here, someone tells him. the limp bodies of small children lie next to those still gasping for life. death for these innocents ask agonizing and slow. this doctor is among the first responders. all of the cases were suffering from suffocation, convulsions, narrowing of the pupils, increased sweating and difficulty breathing. all this is proof that a chemical agent was used, he
said. i asked the rescue workers to first wash the victims with water, and take off their clothes. this was the only first aid we could provide. 19-year-old mohammad lies thrashing on the ground, one of the survivors, he later describes the moment the gas hit him. i fell down and i couldn't feel a thing, i felt myself laying on the ground and my hands were hitting the ground. then he fainted, he says, it was as if inhitting myself, i had no control. the casualties were brought to a nearby clinic, built under ground to protect it from air strikes. a man brings in his lifeless little girl. he's sure he's seen her chest moving. but the doctor says it's just air trapped in her chest.
the journalists manage to survive. all casualties must now be taken for treatment half an hour away. at the hospital, both bags are already piling up on the sidewalk from the attack. the dead are brought out to make room for the living. the tiniest victims are carried in gingerly, one by one by one. inside, medical staff struggle to cope with the flood of patients and only a limited supply of the life saving antidote atropine. most are treated hastedly on the
floor, as distraught relatives look on, powerful to help. the youngest victims are the most vulnerable. after a quick check that the heart is still beating, the doctor moves on to the next case. those who did not survive are take on to be buried before the end of the day. in keeping with islamic tradition. in all, 92 people were killed in the town. among them 33 children, entire families were laid to rest in a single grave.
yousef lost more than 20 members of his family. this is the grave of my cousin yasser. he is my friend and kbroer. brother. his son amar just 4 years old. what did he do to deserve this? his second child, mohammad, may god have mercy on his soul, he says. and this is my brother, moham's grave. abu yousef, i am your brother. abu yousef, you left me all alone, may god protect you my brother, and accept you as a martyr. abu yousef, please, god, answer me. in syria now, the dead are considered lucky. free from the unspeakable crimes
of this brutal war, and the agony of brief. grief. american, british, and french intelligence, as well as chemical weapons experts we have spoken with, agree this attack was almost certainly carried out by al assad's forces, the gas was likely sarin gas which has been outlawed since the end of the first world war. but al assad denied it ever even took place, calling it 100% fabrication. >> my question s have the u.s. strikes made any difference to the situation on the ground there? >> i think when you talk to people inside rebel-held syria, there was a real moment of optimism, that the u.s. strikes could possibly change things on the ground and they may have changed things at the
negotiating table, they may have given the u.s. more leverage when it comes to further peace talks, but for people on the ground, the bombardment still continues day in and day out and whether they are using chemicals or conventional weapons, people are being killed every day, don. >> does he still have more chemical weapons, clarissa? >> there is widespread fear among chemical experts and u.s. intelligence says that they are continuing to produce chemical weapons and potentially you ire not dealing with a rational person or a rational regime, they could be used again, and that of course is the worst case fear. >> and the people involved in this horrific story, they want to see some action, i would imagine, from the international community. what do they want to see?
>> first i think they just really want to have their story told, they want the world to listen, to take the time to watch, even though they are such painful images and they would like to see the international community act. the thing i hear from people again and again on the ground is there must be ways to protect us from the threats coming from the skies, whether it comes in bombs, whether it comes in chemical weapons. i do think there's also a real understanding that a lot of the hard work needs to be done at the diplomatic table and that real consensus needs to be built between rush 145, between the u.s., between turkey, between iran and all the other proxy powers who are diriving this wa. >> to find out how you can help the syrian conflict, go to cnn.com/impact. 're not.
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richard haass from the council on foreign relations, and author of "a world in disarray." it's unbelievable, the disturbing after math of those chemical attacks in syria last month. what's your reactionsome. >> i thought the most power line line was the living envy the dead. this is horrific, this is not just a distraction of war crimes, this is the reality of it on a scale that is the kind of thing you read about in history, but it's stunning and it's troubling that it's happening here in 2017. >> it's hard to imagine that anyone could watch these terrible images and not be moved to do something. is this the kind of thing that motivated the president to launch those retaliatory air strikes last month? was this a red line so to speak for him and for the world? >> well, it ought to have been a red line long before this president and i think the
president was good to respond with military force, that will discourage not just al assad from doing it again but anybody else. it's not going to change the future history of syria. this was a limited use of force, but it was a useful use of force all the same. >> you have maintained in the past how president trump reacts to syrian conflict in attacks such as these, is ultimately what will separate his presidency from president obama's. do we have an understanding of the president's overall strategy when it comes to the syrian conflict. >> i think the most immediate question will be after the united states defeats isis in syria, what do we do to provide stability to the liberated areas? and i think diplomatically, and in your conversation with clarissa ward, what can the
united states and russia do together to provide a degree of stability and safety for people in parts of syria. at the same time the government of al assad begins in power, i would say in partnership with the russians, i don't think the syrians, iranians or turks are viability partners, we tell the russians if you're not willing to work with us, if we can't make syria safe from the year, we're going to provide arms to those we have confidence in. and that would pose a threat to syrian aircraft and even russian aircraft. >> the president now beginning to arm seyria and syria's kurdih fighters. even though syria is against this move. do you think this is a wise decision or is there going to be some diplomatic repercussions
here? >> i think the military action is likely to have diplomatic repercussions, russian military assets could be constrained. for all i know he'll call off his visit, or it will be a much more contentious visit, but in foreign policy, sometimes you got to choose and you've got to know what your options are. >> the president is sending as many as 5,000 more troops into the afghanistan fight. before taking office, president trump was very vocal about the surge in troops. he even put out tweets like what you see on your screen. why do you think the change, ambassador? >> the taliban continues to make something of a come back. the administration essentially wants to put in more troops to work with the afghan government
forces to push back against the taliban. not to defeat them militarily, that's not going to happen. but to persuade the taliban to come to the negotiating table. i'll be honest, i'm skeptical, i have been involved in u.s. policy toward afghanistan for more than 25 years and it's not clear to me how a few thousand more american troops will tip the balance. i think sooner rather than later, we have either got to get the pakistanis to stop providing asylum to the taliban or we're going to have to come up with more modest goals in afghanistan and we're going to have to try to shore up the government and defeat the taliban, probably a more moderate interest in terrorists than in other cuntries. >> we'll be right back. the smoother the skin, you are in it.
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repricing her "saturday night live" version of sean spicer i want to bring in our in-house comedian. host of cnn united shades of america hello sir how are you. >> i'm doing good out here in the streets that's where comediennes are now. >> that's where she is rolling through the streets. "saturday night live" is all over the administration do they even have to write anything because earlier this weaning i want to show you a fun tease we are melissa mccarthy. everyone's favorite character. watch this. >> i feel pretty. oh so pretty. i feel pretty and witty and bright. and i pity any girl who isn't here tonight ♪ i feel charming ♪ so so charming it's alarm how charming i feel ♪ and so pretty ♪ that i hardly can believe i'm real ♪ such a pretty face such a press
pretty smile such a pretty feel. >> i mean you don't even thifrmg it's melissa skmaergt. you think it's sean spicer. she place sean better than sean this today this happened her spiesy character driving in motorized podium past cnn what do you think? >> i mean i'm sure trump when he saw that he probably thought sean spicer was moonlighting first of all what are you doing? the other thing is that -- i sort of -- i don't feel bad for sean spicer but you know every time melissa mccarthy does he he is getting yelled at by daddy trump. president trump is yelling at him every time that happens. >> if you were in that position do you think you would be ultimates by it or would you just take it in stride and laugh? people making fun of you i don't know. >> i think you -- if it was any other time in history maybe you could take it in stride and laugh. you know that like that commercial goes out or goes online and immediately spicer gets a text come to my office. you know that it's not -- it's
not good for him for melissa mccarthy going at him like that. he hid in the bushes this week. >> you think we're seeing that on "snl" hiding in the bushes. >> i'm sure they're like order some bushes, yes we will see bushes on "snl." i'm sure they ordered a fresh crop of bushes. >> i bet the writer were like no way this didn't happen we would never have written this. this is hill airious. >> to be a comedienne there is too much good stuff daughters go to yog urt places on too much candy on the yog urt right now. >> do you remember when the dsh the ol heads woi would say in these times. it's serious because it's extraordinary times right now. president trump firing the fbi director, possible tapes in the oval office be compared to nixon during watergate. do you think that's all fair? >> yeah, because let's also remember he had time to trol
rosy o'donnell. >> it was a good troll. >> he is having a busy week. shouldn't he have his mind on other things? i mean that -- that's what the crazy thing about that any time you think maybe we're not satisfying it seriously enough frufrps steps forward tories i'm not taking it seriously he's not not a very good week in the history. >> we got to talk about your show. >> finally united shades of america you show -- your show is about native americans how they blend traditional ways of living with today's world listen. >> so this is better than a tent that you buy like at a store right. >> you can have a fire in you can't have a fire in the regular old tent. >> why can't you have a fire in a regular zbleent it's plastic it will burns up ideally used to be buffalo ross robes in it that could survive negative 40 degree weather. >> it's cold like that here shortly. >> you'll be able to survive in
this. >> no. >> i mean, ideally you'd survive in it but this is not the kind of buffalo hide tepee i could survive in negative 40 degree weather. >> what are you going to do when it gets cold. >> there's a hotel up the road. >> so listen your show is about -- you laugh through humor but you teach people i thought this is important for people to know native american haves a high rate of unemployment, poverty, high crime rate. >> i think -- i really like the episode we're sort of like going to address all the things you think about native americans the standpoints the tepee we're talking about where they're at right now. we sort of often times. don we're both black we make in country black and white as black people. sometimes we include latinos and asians but native americans are rarely included. this episode has a lot of shocking statistics how native americans are living right now. >> we talk about what happened from the beginning the show goes
through all of that brings up to now in a humorous way but a very interesting way as well i can't wait to watch. thank you so much. i appreciate it. >> thank you don. >> don't miss united shades of america right there on cnn. we'll be right back. uh- i- [sound of wrench] [intricate guitar riff] [engine starts] [guitar continues]
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two cnn heroes joined forces last month to assist women struggling in refugee camps in greece. one works with refugee families in u.s. the other helps women escape life on the streets in tennessee. together they create add unique project helping refuge aye women rebuild lives using the live vest they and others wore on their journey. >> the project is making welcome mats from the life vests. so they're weaving these getting paid to weave them. we are selling these in the u.s. the idea and see we are laying down the welcome mat for them. they're done. >> we can do so much better in welcoming people into our country. >> this is a direct way to give empowerment and hope in
something as simple as purchasing a mat. >> to find out more about the welcome project how you can buy a well mat or nominate a cnn hero g going to cnn heroes.com that's it for us tonight thanks for watching happy mother's day everyone. and happy mother's day, mom. love you. rp he. good evening thanks for joining us what would you call a day in which the president of the united states issue as anyonely veiled threats against the man he was fired while that man was investigating him for improper russia i ties what would you call the day he denies demand ago royalty plenl. he remember denies records dfrgs attention in the office. imt all let pesky daily press brefrpgs smud disappear what wau cowl that day. around here we call it friday began with the president tweeting this about the fired director which took place the day sally yates warned the white house again that the president's national security adviser waste vul