tv This Week With George Stephanopoulos ABC June 3, 2018 8:00am-9:00am PDT
th them. jeff bleich. democrat for lieutenant governor. "this week" with george stephanopoulos starts right now. >> the president's defense. >> it's a pure witch hunt. right now, it's a pure witch hunt. >> a breaking new report from "the new york times" reveals the trump team's private communications with robert mueller. 20-page letter says the president cannot be compelled to testify. cannot obstruct justice in the russia investigation. does that sweeping executive power mean the president is above the law? that question this morning for the president's lead attorney, rudy giuliani. and analysis from legal experts dan abrams and chris christie. the historic summit with north korea back on track. >> the big deal will be on june 12th. >> after an oval office meeting with a top aide to kim jong-un.
>> i really think they want to do something. and if it's possible, so do we. >> president trump says the singapore summit is the first step. what will it take to make it a success? can kim jong-un live without nuclear weapons? can president trump live with anything else? tom bossert and bill richardson join our discussion. plus our powerhouse "roundtable." we'll break down the politics. smoke out the spin. the facts that matter. "this week." good morning. and welcome to "this week." we want to get right to the blockbuster report in "the new york times" publishing a january letter from trump's lawyers to robert mueller. the most detailed, authoritative, and explicit account yet of the president's legal defense in the russia investigation. the memo makes a breathtaking claim of presidential power. arguing that the president could not have obstructed justice in the russia investigation because the constitution guarantees him unfettered power over federal
investigations. a president, they write, can order the termination of an investigation by the justice department or fbi at any time for any reason. the lawyers also argue that the president's cooperation to date means that he does not have to speak to mueller. in light of these voluntary offerings, they write, your office clearly lax the requisite need to personally interview the president. the letter confirms that the president personally dictated a misleading draft for his son don jr. about the infamous trump tower meeting with russian officials. let's talk to rudy giuliani. mr. mayor, thank you for joining us this morning. >> george, how are you? >> the this letter was written before you came on board, by john dowd and jay sekulow in january. do you stand by the arguments as they are in the letter? >> i didn't see it at the time. i know the argument. it's very, very persuasive.
similar to the article written by ted olson three weeks ago, "weekly standard," saying almost the same thing. maybe adding more to it in terms of they're not making the proper record. the special counsel. this is what most constitutional lawyers who tend to try to protect the presidency would say. >> let's dig into the specifics. it makes it clear you don't think the president can be compelled to testify. cannot be subpoenaed here. does that mean the president won't sit for an interview? >> that doesn't mean that completely. it means there has to be a high bar they have to reach in terms of convincing us they're fair. that we're going to get to things we need. i want to see the spy gate report, haven't gotten it. i want to see what they gave judge ellis. the judge hasn't written an opinion yet. it convinces me there's a real problem with it. otherwise, the judge would have said, oh, yeah, you're authorized. that's the manafort case. a couple of outstanding, critical, we just can't do it without that. i would have every lawyer you put on the show ripping my head
off if i let him be interviewed without knowing they're authorized. >> have you written a new letter to robert mueller? >> no. jane did that for jay and me. and jane -- basically reiterated that. we -- i think we had an extra point. or we should. which is in addition to the constitutional issue, which will be a complex one. we admit that. we think we have the better argument. the one that's definitive, the olc, oice of legal counsel, tapp the justice department wrote a memo at the conclusion of the clinton administration and said, you cannot indict a sitting president. nor can you compel process. it's part of the rules of the justice department. and mueller has -- >> has he responded to the letter? >> he has not. he's completely surrounded by the rules of the justice department and agreed to follow them. >> so somewhat the state of play right now exactly with robert mueller? he's not responded to the letter. >> he's responded to other things. if i were him, i wouldn't make the response unless i decided if
i'm going to go or not go. i better spend a month on it. emmett flood, the president's -- let's say in-house counsel. >> in the white house. yeah. >> this is his area of expertise. he represented president clinton. represented president bush. this is the area he knows probably better than anybody in the world. we're relying on him, as well as jay. john did an excellent job. everyone we have had look at this says, i guess what lawyers always say, we can't guarantee it. but 90%. i should say 70%. >> back in 1998, you argued matter clinton could be subpoenaed. here's what you said to charlie rose. >> all of the watergate litigation resolved that the president is not above the law. is not able to avoid subpoenas and the president has a right, like anyone else, to go before a judge and say, this is being done for an improper purpose. this is being done for purposes of harassment. if a judge agrees, then you have to testify. >> so what's changed?
>> i guess, first of all, i still agree with the exception a president can go before a judge and say it's f purposes of harassment. 's unnecessary. we win that. >> is that what you intend to do? >> sure. we'll say, you got everything you need. 1.4 million documents. 28 witnesses. the president has given every explanation and corrections of misimpressions. you have everything you need. what do you need us for? most prosecutors don't have the subject or target or whatever you want to call the president. he's only a subject right now. and i think will remain that. they don't have him. they have to make a decision without it. so come on. man up. make your decision. >> the north korea summit is back on. how does that play in an interview? >> from our very narrowoint of view. jay and i, our team, of course, it interrupts it. it's not just the interview and the facts of the interview. the it's the whole situation of are we going to do it or not do
it? this is the president's decision ultimately. >> he says he wants to do it. >> you have interviewed him. you know him. you talked to him. i don't think anybody doubts he wants to do it. he believes he's telling the truth. he is telling the truth. he believes justice should win out. i'm a lawyer. i have years of prosecution and defense. it's not that simple. what i believe is the truth, you may think isn't. and they seem to have the heavy reliance on comey. i think that's going to get knocked to heck with the horowitz report. the inspector general. he's doing the whole hillary clinton investigation. i think one of the main reasons for firing comey was how unfair that was to both of them, to both hillary clinton and to president trump. >> so you're still recommending he doesn't sit down for the interview? >> jay and i want to keep an open mind. but i have to be honest, we're leaning toward not. if they can convince us it will be brief, it will be to the point. there are five or six points they have to clarify. and with that, we can get this
long nightmare for the american public over. you asked me about kia. you know how terrible i feel? i have to call him up. the letter comes out. somebody should be looking at the leaks. find out who the heck it is. >> you have no idevidence that came pr tfrom the special couns? >> it could come from doj. come from a lawyer. whoever it is, we should find out. put me under oath. i didn't do it. jay didn't do it. pat didn't do it. marty didn't do it. >> how about mr. dowd? >> i don't think he did. but, hey, you have to ask john. we're grateful to him. he did a great job. he and jay did a great job. they set this up beautifully. we can add the olc argument and the olsen argument. which i think puts it over the top. that was the one i was arguing back with bill clinton. and i think we win this. >> the most breathtaking claim to my eyes is the claim that the president cannot be investigated for obstruction of justice. he can terminate an investigation at any time for any reason. at any time for any reason?
>> i think that, look, when you argue, you argue the broadest possible point. we don't have to go there. >> but you do go there. >> i didn't. i wasn't there then. i would save it. i think it's the last argument. i think the stronger argument is he didn't. how about he didn't? firing an employee when you know another employee is going to come in and take that job and further the investigation cannot possibly okay instruct the investigation. he said that to lester holt. in his interview within days. you have a contemporaneous statement of his intent. so -- how is that obstruction? how about the flynn conversation. saying to a potential prosecutor, give the guy a break. you put chris christie on later and ask him how many times was he told, asked, give him a break. you know what that means. you take into account the man was a war hero, a patriot, a father, his children are sick. whatever. the whole thing.
sometimes you don't indict. sometimes you lessen the severity of it. sometimes you ignore it. >> just to be clear. to press that point. because the letter is very explicit. it says any time for any reason. the fbi had developed evidence that the president committed murder or accepted a bribe, he can terminate the investigation? >> i would not go that far. i would not go that far, george. you would have to ask john exactly what he's relying on for that. i would not go that far. i think in situations where, at best, there's ambiguity as to whether there was intent. for every one of these things he did, we can write out five things that he did. four are defended. one is your assumption that it's a guilty motive, you can't possibly prosecute him or recommend impeachment. >> the letter cites the president's pardon power. do you believe the president has the power to pardon himself? >> he's not. but he probably does. he has no intention of pardoning himself. but, he probably does. doesn't say he can't. that's another really interesting constitutional argument. can the president pardon
snims himself? >> you think it's an open question? >> it would be an open question. i think it would probably get answered by, gosh, that's what the constitution says. if you want to change it, change it. but yeah. >> a lot of focus on the the president's -- >> i think the political ramifications of that would be tough. pardoning other people is one thing. pardoning yourself is another. other presidents have pardoned people in circumstances like this both in their administration and sometimes the next president of a different party will come along and pardon. >> a lot of focus on the president's pardon power this week. he pardoned dinesh d'souza. roger stone says he's send message to people caught up in the mueller investigation. >> he's not. i think the president feels guilty some of these were delayed. maybe too much concern with injustice or the white house. these are so different than the cases he's involved in. and the issue of pardon is so far down -- except for a couple of guilty pleas, nobody has been convicted yet. and the cases that are involved are totally tangential.
they're off onnen a lark here. the russian thing. $180. dressing up like a clown and going to hillary's events. we used to have clowns come to our events, we don't know if they were dressed or not. >> you don't know fully that robert mueller has wrapped up his investigation between people associated with the president and the russians interfering in our campaign? >> i don't know that. i have a feeling that collusion has come up completely empty. that's why i want to see the reports on spygate. i believe that came up empty. that will be exculpatory. >> let's talk about that a little. because trey gowdy, senior republican said he got the briefing this week. here's what he had to say after it. >> i am even more convinced that the fbi did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got, and that it has nothing to do with donald trump. >> he's a senior republican. all the democrats who got the briefing said the same thing. >> i don't think that is the issue. that goes to the legitimacy of the investigation.
i think it was illegitimate. maybe they can show me it isn't. i have an open mind to that. i want to see what they reveal. what did they find? we're concentrating on technicalities, important though they are. >> you have no evidence that the fbi did anything wrong at this point. >> no. i have tremendous suspicions. they concealed it for a year from the president. if it shows nothing. which we all believe it does. if it was perfectly proper, why wasn't it shown to the president, gosh, as soon as he got into office? the investigation was over. it's a concluded investigation. there's no reason not to show it to him or to us. it's a concluded investigation. my instincts tell me there is something wrong. >> a lot of people look at the president and the white house shifting explanations on the trump tower meeting in june. when this was first reported, jay sekulow said the president had nothing at all to do with
that letter. later, sarah sanders said, well, he weighed in. didn't dictate it. now this letter says very, very clearly he dictated the statement. how do you explain those shifting explanations. >> it happened to me with the whole situation of repaying the money that was laid out by cohen. when the president first talked about it, it was a busy time. nobody thought about it. nobody spoke of it. i got on board. went through everything. it was the only change we had to make. when you consider the big scope of this narrative. >> it's not a complicated thing. the president was there. dealing with the letter. first it was denied. now you're saying he dictated it. >> jay would have to answer it. i've talked to him about it. i think jay was wrong. this is the reason you don't let the president testify. if -- our recollection keeps changing. or we're not even asked a question. somebody makes an assumption.
in my case, i made an assumption. i corrected it. i think that's what happened here. >> i was struck by something else in the letter. when you're discussing the dictation by the president, it was said as a private matter between the president and "the new york times." is that correct? it's not to the organization. it's to the viewers. it's to the public. >> if you said that. and again, the danger of being interviewed. gosh, if i say something wrong on this show. sometimes i did, george in the past. not this time. >> we all do. we all make mistakes. when we do, we try to make corrections. >> if you were the fbi, they could prosecute me for the mistake. they would say it was a lie. that's the point i'm trying to make. they're trying to say it's a private -- nongovernmental. not under oath. not under interview with the fbi. like -- some of the prosecutions have been interviews with the fbi. martha stewart was under oath. >> as you know, articles of impeachment for richard nixon and president clinton included
lying to the public. >> very broad. very broad. i had the position with the clinton impeachment it was a terrible mistake. both legal and political. first of all, congress is going to impeach somebody for lying to the press? come on. they do more lying to the press than anybody. >> will the president testify and are you still -- do you believe robert mueller is committed to wrapping this up by september 1st? >> i'll answer the second first. i believe he is because of the midterm elections. he's as sensitive as anybody to not doing another comey and interfering horribly in the election. i don't think it had as big an impact as some people think. they have a right to think that. second, i do think it's still an open question. but it's beginning to get resolved in favor of not doing it. unless they start coming across with things that we're asking for. major giuliani, thank you for joining us this morning. we're joined live by our legal team, chris christie and
dan abrams. with a new book out this week. "lincoln's last trial." the book out on tuesday. fascinating history. welcome to both of you. you have read this letter now and seen the interview. it seemed to me that mayor giuliani walked back a couple of the most central claims in the letter. >> two of the most controversial points. number one, this idea that he's now saying they could fight the subpoena, not just ignoring. ignoring it means, no matter what happens, if a judge were to instruct us for whatever reason that he's got to testify, we wouldn't have to abide by it. major giuliani saying -- that's not the case. >> we'll take it to court. >> yes. exactly. we'll fight it. fair enough. that's what one would expect him to do. i don't think it will goat that point. i still don't think they'll subpoena the president. number two, this idea that the president can simply just end the investigation. that simply the obstruction. there's no such thing when it comes to the president. again, it seems mayor giuliani
is walking that back, as well. now this letter has much less of a bite, i think, than before we heard from major -- major giuliani. >> not that the lawyers would make the broadest claims. >> that's as broad as it gets. >> i think that's why the mayor said this morning, i don't agree with it. he said, you'll have to ask john about that. going back to john dowd. it is an outrageous claim. it's wrong. they were trying to make a broader argument. lawyers do that all the time. even in court. dan and i have seen that happen many times. in the end, cooler heads prevail here, george. the president is going to have to acknowledge if there is a subpoena -- >> you don't think he's going to do it. >> no. having been a u.s. attorney for seven years, you don't want to swing for the fences on that one and swing and miss. that will discredit the investigation if he does. i don't think he needs to.
i do agree with the mayor on this. i don't think they have shown anything yet. i've said this to you for months, that should compel the extraordinary step of subpoenaing the president. >> it's clear that it's hard to imagine the president will do an interview. not going to be subpoenaed. not going to do an interview. what does mueller do then? >> well, look. i think that mueller probably agrees with the general sentiment, which is that a sitting president can't be indicted. if that's the case, mueller is not preparing an indictment no matter what he thinks. i think you'll see potentially other indictments from mueller that don't necessarily connect to the president himself. and then there's going to be a report. >> on the obstruction issue? >> on the obstruction. mueller could decide we believe that the president obstructed justice. even though they're not going to indict him. basically, hand it over with recommendations. that's what ken starr did. >> with or without the president's the testimony? >> yeah, i think he could do that.
i think in the end, the key is, the president, at this point, should never, ever walk into that room with bob mueller. and i think -- >> for the reasons rudy said, one, they're not sure he won't make a mistake. not sure what he's going to say is going to match up with what other witnesses are saying. >> right. you don't know if the witnesses are telling the truth or not. i think he made a valid point regarding the ig report. hopefully, it comes out next week. it will say a lot of damning things about what was going on in the fbi about the hillary clinton investigation. that investigation, no doubt in my mind, from being an observer at the time. what jim comey did in october of 2016 certainly changed the conversation about the election. >> do you think that's why president trump fired him? >> for that? >> yeah. >> let me say this. i said this to you before on this show. if i had done as u.s. attorney
what jim comey himself did as the attorney general, he would have fired me in five seconds. >> fair enough. he did that but it hurt hillary clinton. it hurt the process. but it didn't hurt donald trump. now they're saying the reason james comey was fired is that what he did was so unfair to hillary clinton. that's the argument. that's the argument. >> the misuse of the authority of his office. now, as a former governor, that's a perfectly good reason -- as we discussed before, george. the transition was not quite a smooth-running machine. those decisions maybe shouldn't have been made. i recommended to the president-elect at the time, if you're going to fire comey, do it now. in the transition period. >> don't wait. one thing. and major giuliani didn't want to go too deep into it. it appears the fbi, there was no misconduct in the use of the fbi informant. >> look. and also, giuliani saying we
have been -- for a year, we haven't gotten information on this. why would they? this informant, right, is working, let's say working in conjunction with the fbi in whatever context. why would they turn it over? this is an ongoing active investigation. there's zero to indicate there was anything improper about this. calling it spygate doesn't mean there is a quote unquote spy involved as opposed to what we see every day if the conduct of the general investigation. >> listen. i think, again, this is a shifting sands argument that will change over the course of time and maybe go away. unless we see misconduct by the fbi, which we have no evidence of right now in any way. as a prosecutor, i wouldn't have turned the information over to the other side. >> to the president. >> no. the thing i said i always loved the most about being u.s. attorney. only i knew what i knew. bob mueller understands that. so does the fbi. you don't willy-nilly turn that stuff over.
you just don't. at some point, if you see misconduct, you would. >> i don't know if it's shifting sands or throwing sand. what it feels more like to me. >> could be either. could be either. >> rudy left open the possibility of the president pardoning himself. he says he doesn't expect him to do it. he has the right to. >> there's no way it happens. and the reason it won't is, it then becomes a political problem, george. if the president were to pardon himself, he'll get impeached. >> he won't be indicted. i think we all agree it's so unlikely that mueller will seek to indict a sitting president that that issue won't come up. >> is the president sending signals with the pardons he's executing now? is he sending signals to those caught up in this investigation? >> you know, the president, i think, is executing the pardon authority in a more aggressive way than most presidents have in the past. but i don't think you can then read that into it. i think everybody wants to. i don't think you can. i think this is a president who
is not a lawyer. who has never held executive position. when he sees an injustice, he wants to fix it. >> you look at the sheriff arpaio pardon. from awhile ago. it's troubling as a lawyer. because he was charged with contempt of court for ignoring a court order. the president said, look, i'm going to pardon him for any crime in connection with this. that was well before we started having this conversation. i think it's more about flexing his political muscle and showing his disdain. for these types of crimes that he's been investigated for. that's different than send message. >> i would say, george, i would caution the president to be very careful on the blagojevich potential commutation. i don't think it's a minor crime for a governor to say, what's in it for me? >> what about martha stewart? >> i would be less offended. i don't know as much about that as i should. having been in the same position as governor blagojevich.
a senator who leaves office. in that case, it was senator lautenberg dying. if i had ever thought about what's in it for me? that's a bad crime. >> he was charged with 20 crimes. he was convicted on 17. martha stewart, the best argument for her is she wouldn't have been prosecuted if she wasn't martha stewart. and you can argue that if that's the case, then, a pard season not so outrageous. >> let's not forget the connective tissue here. james comey and pat fitzgerald are involved in all of the things we talk about. >> let's hope it's not just famous people that will be pardoned, if the pardon power is going to be the used. >> that's the last word for today. thank you both for joining me. the summit for north korea is back on. our experts analyze the opportunities and risks next. it can detect a threat using ai, and respond 60 times faster. it lets you know where your data lives, down to the very server.
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we'll be -- meeting on june 12th in singapore. it went really well. it's really a "get to know you" kind of a situation. i never said it goes in one meeting. oy think it's going to be a process. but the relationships are building. that is a very positive thing. >> kind of a casual press conference. the president announced on friday he'll be going to the summit with kim jong-un. on june 12th. we want to talk about that with our panel of experts. former ambassador bill richardson. who has travelled to north korea eight times to negotiate with the regime there. sue mi terry. who was a senior analyst on korean issues with the cia.
a senior fellow at the center for strategic and international studies. and our newest abc contributor tom bossert. he was president trump's homeland security counterterrorism adviser, senior policy aide on president bush's security council. welcome to abc news. great to have you here. ambassador, let me begin with you. you negotiated with the north koreans on several occasions. we have never seen a presidential summit before. are the conditions right? for this summit? how would you define success? >> well, i believe the danger now is that this will be a gigantic photo op. i have supported the president with this summit in the past. north korean negotiations from the bottom up have not worked. i'm glad the summit is reinstated. the north koreans, i've negotiated with them. they maneuver you into a corner. they never say no. they're relentless. they're focused. now our position has shifted dramatically.
now we're saying we're for and okay with a phased denuclearization. still we should have the summit. still we can get gains. what is success? i think success is some kind of curbing of the use of missile testing. destruction of weapons, missal and nuclear maybe over a phased process. number two, i think a reduction in the tension with south korea. the artillery. after all, 25 million south koreans are vulnerable. american troops in japan and in south korea. so, a definition of success is something where there's dramatic timelines and inspections of what the north koreans are doing. >> inspections could be key. >> that is key. if we don't have that, i think the two agreements we had in the clinton and bush administration will be the same. full, unfettered inspections.
>> tom, the ambassador raises a couple of concerns. other former diplomats have cited the photo in the oval office with kim yong chol the. they say that was inappropriate. they think it's too public a way to meet with the aide. saying the president would no longer apply maximum pressure. they say the president has given up too much in order to get this meeting. >> i understand that the ambassador is worried of the this being only a photo op. but think the real danger here is the 30 or more nuke ler weapons on the top of missiles that can reach the united states. i think all of the criticisms of the president's losing focus is a means to an ends.
with all due respect, i don't believe this is a situation where the president has anything to lose. i think he's doing the right thing. president clinton tried a bilateral approach. president bush tried a multilateral approach. direct, bilateral. the president is looking for a stark drawdown. i think success is a strategic political decision to disarm. >> can president trump this is historic, the fact that he's going. can he get more than bill clinton got in 1994 and more than george bush got early in his term? >> it's very unclear. we don't have an agreement on denuclearization. is north korea willing to denuclearize as we define it? >> do you think that is possible? >> i don't know. we have to set it up as a goal. there was a stanford study just released that says the verification process will take 15 years. we don't know where all the weapons are. how many they have. where they are hidden. there are thousands of underground tunnels. verification will be very, very difficult to achieve. i'm glad president trump walked away from the high bar he set up for himself. >> you're echoing what ambassador richardson said.
that does seem to be the big goal here right now. is there any way to get a realistic verification procedure in there? you have inspectors looking at the zones. >> he's an expert in the matter. >> he's the physicist who studied the north korean nuclear program. he says it would take 15 years. >> he's the only westerner permitted access. where he's wrong is the assumptions that go into his conclusion. as a result, things that are easy to accomplish, he's inaccurate on. he's making assumptions that are a little different from what, in my understanding, president trump is going to seek. the president is hurrying. that's not to be criticized. he's moving faster, not because it's just a threat but because he's trying to attain or ascertain the motive and intent of the leadership. if they don't have the intent to make a strategic decision. disarm is a first step. not freeze. but halt and disarm. then this is a big waste of
time. all the definitions and all the big protracted negotiations that might come after would all be for naught. >> you have spent a lot of time in the room with the north koreans. what about the president personally as he heads into that meeting with kim jong-un? what does he have to be aware of? careful about? how should he conduct himself? >> well, first, he has to be -- dramatically prepared. kim jong-un will be very prepared. he knows his nuclear programs well. secondly, i think the president has to -- appoint one person, the point person, secretary pompeo who has done a good job. he's met with kim jong-un twice. he's kind of rescued this last summit with his meeting with the spy chief. third, i think the president, because he is a charming negotiator, he should take kim jong-un aside. when you negotiate with the north koreans, they never give concessions across the table. in the negotiating room.
take him out informally. find a way to build some trust with the guy. he can't be trusted. this is why inspection and disclosure of their arsenal is key. find some time when a one on one, together, to build trust. to find a way to have a phased denuclearization. but one that has timelines. disclosure of their arsenal. lastly, inspectors. international atomic energy inspectors. american inspectors. then focus on things important to the american people. like the remains of our soldiers from the korean war. i brought seven back. there are families around the country that want to see closure on so many of our troops and servicemen whose remains are there. i think a combination of human rights and nuclear initiatives. that should be done on a personal basis. >> i saw you -- >> and the president should avoid hugs, smiles, photo ops as much as he can. that will be difficult. >> you've laid out a lot there.
sue mi, i saw you nod your head there. building a personal relationship. the president can't wing it. >> no, he can not. he needs to be disciplined. north korea spends 100% of their focus on the united states. the guy who just came, kim yong chol. he was part of the the negotiation process from 1992. he is prepared. we need to be prepared. and let's see what happens. >> seems like secretary of state pompeo is the president's guy here, not john bolton. >> i think that's correct. i think that that's a strategic move the president had in mind long before. when you criticized this for speed, know that the president came into office with this on his mind. maybe just a thought here. we have all given advice to president trump. i think a little advice to kim jong-un. first, he's not met president trump yet. he better prepare for that. second, i think kind of nuanced. but these demonstrations of blowing up tunnels, where they're complete or facades, just for show, it's really
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it's up or down vote on impeachment. trump is on the ballot in every congressional district. this is not going to be a democratic congressman versus a republican congressman. this is donald tru vers nancy pelosi and -- >> sve bannon is tan and back. giving his analysis of the midterms. we have white house correspondent jon karl here. sara fagen. political affairs director in the bush white house. a cnbc contributor. patrick gas bard -- gaspard. ambassador to south africa. the president of the open society foundation. and newt gingrich. the book "trump's america." and karen finney. democratic strategist. former clinton campaign spok spokesperson. and jon, let me begin with you. this is evidence that the president is watching television this morning. echoing one of the arguments made by rudy giuliani that the president should have been told about the investigation into his campaign. should have been told about the investigation into paul manafort.
that's become a new talking point for his team. >> several new talking points. all of them aimed at undermining the credibility of the special counsel. we have gone from cooperation to the attack and vilify mode. the memo sounded like what richard nixon told robert frost. when the president does it, it's not illegal. that is part of the argument. the president's legal team feel they did too much. by way of cooperation in the past year. turned over too many document. allowed too many advisers to be interviewed. that is all stopping. >> is this strategy going to hold? >> the simple question is, where is the collusion? mueller was appointed to see if there was collusion with russia. there is no evidence that donald trump had any collusion with russia. none. zero. >> but you conceded what rudy giuliani conceded there. he doesn't know that robert mueller is done with the
investigation. >> he ought to give us a hint. does he have any evidence of any kind than the president of the united states was involved with russia? we're getting obstruction of justice. all sorts of other things. 2005 tax issues. all sorts of things that don't relate to the reason we thought he was there. >> you're shaking your head. >> i'm just thinking about a little something that happened in the clinton administration where it might have started about cattle futures and whitewater. and we ended up in a different place. special prosecutors are not really known to tell you. giuliani was saying, show us the reports. why would they? it's an active investigation as dan abrams pointed out. until we know, we won't know. when he comes forward and puts forward his evidence, then we'll know. >> one of the other things we have seen, sara fagen, is the president has been quite successful in getting other republicans, not just his legal team, but other republicans to echo his arguments. >> he has. i believe the president's base and a whole lot of independents
look at this as another example of how washington is broken. and that the actual political impact of all of this discussion probably politically accrues to the president's benefit. >> i was struck there, patrick, by steve bannon saying, arguing, they kind of want this midterm election to be about donald trump and impeachment. >> the midrm election is clearly not about impeachment. it's about donald trump and his behavior. and sara and jon are right. this is a general attempt to destabilize institutions to tear them down in order to protect this president. but i'll tell you. i'm not convinced that independents are saying plague on both your houses. i think independents, based on what we have seen so far with the special elections thus far are repulsed by the behavior. the speaker just said before that we have started with the russian probe and now we have gone on to things like obstruction of justice. as if obstruction of justice is a minor issue for the president of the united states to be involved in. it will be interesting to see. >> if you're a normal american,
you're looking at continued economic growth. you're looking at a system that you think is working. and you say, oh, but over here is something that's obscure and legal. i think that -- i think the republicans, if they're clever, will campaign on the economy working. which, in fact, is exactly what bill clinton did in '98. and it worked. people said in '98, and we lost seats in '98 because people said, if the issue is impeachment, if the democrats decide they're the impeachment party -- >> but old on. >> but the republicans have been losing one special election after another. >> two things. the connor lamb race, the republicans thought they could campaign on tax bill a benefit to working people. working people are not buying that. connor lamb showed us that.
the data i'm seeing, i say this. i agree with the speaker. generally, people feel like, the economy, eh, it's okay. >> it's a.8% unemployment. >> people have stopped looking for jobs. i think more importantly, the numbers i do think matter to people. number one, wage growth is stagnant. that's a problem, because costs, like health care costs are going up. and that is the president's fault. so i agree that i think, you know, democrats can't let this become about impeachment. they have to keep it focused on reasons control everything. they're not getting anything does because they're busy fighting. >> i think most people believe this is likely to be a tough election for the republicans in the midterms. having said that, if the last year, you have seen a net 20-point difference in the right direction in this country. that is part of the economy and republican tax cuts. that's what republicans need to be campaigning. >> that's a good point. we have seen the democratic preference numbers shrinking month to month. as we get closer to the elections. not to make a reference that my
cleveland friends will be pained about. democrats can't act as if they're ahead and run out the clock here. they actually have to have a campaign -- >> oh, yes. twisting it to all cavaliers fans. >> you didn't have to go there. >> had to go there. >> we saw tom bossert talk about the president's preparation for north korea. the president is eager to make this happen. he's been driving the this for the last ten days. wants to see the summit happen. now it's pretty clear it's going to happen. when you are reporting from the white house every day, what do you think the president's definition of success is for next tuesday? >> well, it shifted a bit when he came out after his meeting with kim yong chol at the white house. an extraordinary meeting. an extraordinary day. he was saying, this is not all going to happen in one summit. earlier, you got the sense he was thinking something big would happen. he's definitely kind of downplaying expectations a bit. but look, george.
we have all covered summits. major diplomatic meetings. they're very predictable affairs. >> precooked, usually. >> everything is choreographed. this is entirely different. it may just be that donald trump is the one human being uniquely positioned to get a deal with north korea. it may tis -- disappear. the odds of success here are remote. but, all that -- the traditional methods as bossert pointed out, we saw clinton, bush, obama fail. when president trump came into office this was the single biggest foreign policy challenge facing him. and we were -- we had the pentagon preparing military options. now we're on the verge of a big summit. who knows? >> first of all this is where the art of the deal comes in. i think they could, that morning, decide not to have the summit. they could be in singapore and go, that's it, not going to do it. i think they could go into the meeting -- >> both men want it. that's pretty clear. >> what? >> both individuals want it. >> yes. i give secretary mattis a lot of
credit. i do think secretary mattis got across the notion, yeah, we could win. the price in seoul, korea. the human cost. >> you could win a military campaign? >> yes. you could win a military campaign but you don't want one. mattis deserves a lot of credit. you have pompeo, bolton, kelly. and mattis. you have a very formidable team around the president. >> it appears you don't have bolton anymore. >> certainly formidable people around the issue. they seem to be at odds. against one another. poor mike pence has been thrown under the bus for the kind of rhetoric he used that exacerbated tensions. which is another point i would like to make, jon. sure. previous administrations didn't get us to a point of ultimate peace and detente here. but they didn't exacerbate the problem by talking about fire and fury and warfare. >> if you look at where the program was. when obama came into the office.
they did tests. generally a few weak tests. they have tested a bomb 15 times stronger than the one that went off in hiroshima. >> aren't we essentially saying, i'll take this to karen. if president trump could get the the deal that president clinton got in 1994 or president bush got in the early part of his term and it held, that would be a victory? >> that would be a victory. but here's the problem. whatever happens on june 12th, it matters what happens on june 13th, 14th, and beyond. what we don't yet know. in their -- the president himself has set up, he says the iran deal is horrible, awful, worst deal ever. what does success look like for the north korean deal? and most importantly, the verification mechanisms. the inspection mechanisms. we knew where the nukes were in iran. we don't know where they are in north korea. >> that's right. you can never forget this is a regime with a long history of lying and cheating. their way into these deals and negotiations.
when the worst oil spill hit san francisco, first responders went to work. and mayor gavin newsom, he went to hawaii. man: newsome left the day after the spill for a four-day vacation in hawaii. the same gavin who said his job as lieutenant governor was so dull, he only showed up for work at the state capitol one day a week, tops. gavin's not gonna work as governor.