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INSIDE POLITICS

Scalise in Surgery; Congress Reflects on Shooting; Trump Obstruction of Justice; Cosby Jury Deadlocked. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired June 15, 2017 - 12:00   ET

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


[12:00:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In this room, Steve Scalise and his great family as he continues his very brave fight. It's been much more difficult than people even thought at the time. It's been - he's in some trouble. But he's a great fighter and he's going to be OK, we hope.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: As I noted, we've learned just within the past few minutes that Congressman Scalise is back in surgery as doctors deal with internal injuries caused by a rifle shot that entered through his hip, went on to shatter his pelvis and also injure several internal organs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: YA two-pronged approach. You want to go in there and stop what is bleeding and that may involve going back and forth to the operating room and replacing whatever blood that is lost. The blood transfusions of which he has already received some throughout the day.

You know, these types of injuries, because you're talking about a rifle injury, a high velocity munition, it causes significant, you know, blast injury to that part of the body. It's going to involve even several operations after you address these most immediate concerns. It's going to be a long road, I think, make no mistake, in terms of how long before he can bear weight, you know, any idea of getting out of the hospital.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The gunman was shot dead at the northern Virginia ballpark just a few miles from here. The social media postings of 66-year-old James Hodgkinson detail his anger at President Trump and at Republicans, including a FaceBook post critical of Congressman Scalise. Hodgkinson is from Illinois, but had been in the D.C. area for a couple of months now, apparently living in his van. Authorities now trying to retrace his steps, trying to understand how this man came to launch this early morning ambush. The former mayor of Alexandria, the town where the shooting took place, recalls frequently seeing Hodgkinson at the YMCA adjacent to that baseball field.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BILL EUILLE, FORMER ALEXANDRIA MAYOR: I described him as someone that was very calm, that was sane. Didn't - wasn't - didn't seem depressed or disturbed about anything. One day last week I noticed when he was in the shower area, his gym bag, which was a big bag, was wide open, and I happened to just look over and I could see that, you know, it looked like he was living out of the bag because he had clothing and books and everything and - which people don't normally carry around with them in the Y just to come to the gym every day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: In addition to Whip Scalise, one of the two Capitol Hill Police officers credited with preventing a massacre remains hospitalized today, as does a former Hill staffer, now a lobbyist, who was helping the team practice. GOP staffer Zach Barth was in center field when the gunfire rang out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZACH BARTH, AIDE TO REP. ROGER WILLIAMS: You know, there was nowhere for me to go. There was no gate. Nothing like that. So I made myself the smallest target possible, laid on the ground. And then I saw him turn his gun towards me. He started firing. Everything around me started to pop. I felt a sharp, burning pain in my leg. I looked down. I had been hit. And at that point adrenaline was pumping through me and my fight or flight reflexes took over and I decided, if I wanted to live, I needed to get better cover. So I sprinted down. I literally ran for my life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Zach Barth there with his boss, the Republican Congressman Roger Williams, who hurt his ankle also trying to get safe protection at that baseball field. The practice was for an annual charity game, Democrats versus Republicans, and that game will go on as scheduled tonight. Playing shortstop for the Republicans or somewhere in the infield, he says he could be moved around, the first term Michigan Congressman Zack Bergman, who was at that field yesterday morning.

Congressman, appreciate your time today.

I want to start just by - your whip, Steve Scalise, back in surgery for a third time. I know the Republicans had a meeting this morning. Did you get any kind of an update on the sense of the prognosis? Obviously three surgeries, internal injuries, a bullet passing through his pelvis, this is pretty serious.

REP. JACK BERGMAN (R), MICHIGAN: Yes. The ongoing prognosis and the change, basically he's in the - in the care of the finest health professionals in the world. So to try to report on that, we'd almost probably be five minute behind what's happening. But he's in the care of the most capable hands possible.

KING: You got no sense that this was a turn for the worse?

BERGMAN: No. KING: Just something that's going to take time because of the significance?

BERGMAN: And I would call your attention to my tie, which has the pelican on it, the state bird of Louisiana, which is an honor of Steve Scalise today.

KING: Amen for that.

Tell me about the meeting this morning. We know Republicans met yesterday when they were back here. Democrats hosted a dinner. The Democratic team hosted a dinner for Republican members last night. And there's a lot of shock. There's a lot of conversation. And we'll get to that in a moment about trying to dial back some of the rhetoric. But just your general sense, you were there yesterday morning.

BERGMAN: I was.

KING: I mean, you know, that's - that's just 24 plus hours ago. What goes through your mind? Did a night's sleep change your perspective at all or -

BERGMAN: Not really. It maybe clarified some things as you process it. But, you know, right after the incident yesterday, we as the team members, spent some time gathering on a little basketball court right off the field to pray, to see who else needed help within the group, and we kind of did the same thing this morning at the conference. We came together as a group to discuss where we were individually and how we move forward collectively.

KING: Congressman Scalise is one of the most powerful men in Washington, so a lot of the conversation is about him being in the hospital. But I don't want to get lost - I don't want lost in the story the heroism of these two Capitol Police officers, his detail that rushed onto the field. Do you think you would be here talking with me today if they had not rushed onto that field?

[12:05:12] BERGMAN: No. No. And not only if they had not rushed out on the field, but if they had failed to take the gunman down, I went be talking to you today. There's a 90 percent chance. We all would have the last say, if you will, in how we defend ourselves to the end.

KING: They hide in the shadows behind lawmakers, that's their job, but they shouldn't be forgotten as this goes forward.

One of the conversations in town now is what will come of this. The speaker was very emotional yesterday in saying, we are one family. The minority leader, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, saying I associate myself with his remarks, something she says she's never done before. It actually drew a little laughter on the floor of the House at a very difficult moment.

Do you believe - you're a freshman. Washington probably confounds you in many ways coming from the Midwest and coming here. I'm glad we can laugh about this a bit on a day that is still filled with sadness, but do you believe - I don't doubt that it's genuine. I don't doubt the shock is genuine. I don't doubt the commitment to trying to dial the rhetoric back is genuine. But do you believe it will last?

BERGMAN: Well, I believe there's the opportunity for it to last. Most people viewing this around the world today have no clue that three weeks after the 115th Congress was sworn in, the freshman class, bipartisan, signed a commitment to civility. It didn't make the news. We stepped up as a freshman class saying, we're better than this and we, as freshmen, are going to move forward with civility, reintroducing civility into the discourse so we can make tough decisions but do it in a bipartisan manner, not a hateful manner.

KING: But let me ask you a question as a freshman about maybe one of your more senior members, Republican Congressman Steve King, on the "Simon Conway Show," WHO back in Iowa, said some of this - he says, I - quote, "I do want to put some of this at the feet of Barack Obama. He contributed mightily to dividing us. He focused on our differences rather than our things that unify us. And this is some of the fruit of that labor." Is that appropriate?

BERGMAN: I come from a culture of the Marine Corp and the culture of the Marine Corp is to come together, not to divide. So I really probably wouldn't provide comment on that because I'm not focused on dividing, I'm focused on uniting.

KING: Where does your sense of where we go from here in the terms of, do you think you need more security when you go back home or do you think you need more security when you're here in town?

BERGMAN: Well, I think security - we all have - we have a personal responsibility. First of all, I'm an airline pilot by trade with Northwest Airlines. On 9/11, 2001, our lives across the country changed, especially those of air crews, and the understanding that the new security rules necessary to protect not only our crews but our passengers, I had that moment 16 years ago. Some of the folks in our country right now are having this moment for the first time. And the ability to protect ourselves individually, rather than having to rely on someone else, is something that I cherish. So I believe that I would like the opportunity to be able to protect myself as a congressman.

KING: But, obviously, you're here. We're sitting in the District of Columbia. You can't have a concealed weapon here. Do you think you should have a detail or - as an individual member of Congress walking around? Only the leadership gets that right now. If Leader Scalise - Whip Scalise's detail had not been there, we'd be probably having a very, very different conversation this morning and, God forbid, you might not be here, sir.

BERGMAN: That's correct.

KING: Do you think what - does the protocols have to be discussed maybe in the case of a large public gathering or individual congressmen, or would that be an overreaction?

BERGMAN: I think we have to continue the discussion so that everybody in a leadership position or a position to influence understands the nature of the future threat. KING: You mentioned your 9/11 experience. I've been in this town after

the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords back in her district. I was here when men, gunman, ran into that Capitol and shot Capitol police officers outside Tom Delay's office years ago. I was covering the White House on 9/11. You get moments of unity and then each one is a little different but you go back and check the history books and go back and check the news accounts, whether it's weeks or months, that dissipates and the rhetoric comes back. How, in your experience, having been through this in the private sector as a pilot, and now being here, how do you make sure that doesn't happen this time, or can you?

BERGMAN: Well, number one, in the airline industry, we made adjustments, reinforcing cockpit doors, understanding the motivations -

KING: What adjustments do the politicians need to make?

BERGMAN: They need to be realistic to the threat that we are not - we are not immune to anger, hate that is built up. And the question is, how does that get built up or how does it get dissipated? Who plays a role? The media, I believe, plays an extremely important role going forward here to making sure that the informing people, picking your words carefully, making sure that people who might have, shall we say, edgy views don't take what is being said or heard in the media and take it to the extreme, which they will.

[12:10:01] KING: Invite me to one of those civility meetings and I promise you I'll cover it if you have another one going forward.

To that point as we close, because of the vitriol about health care, vitriol about other things, a lot of congressmen have stopped having town halls or are limiting the number of town halls. I would assume, after seeing one of their colleague shot, a staffer shot, two Capitol Police officers shot, the natural reaction of any member of Congress, Democrat or Republican, would be to pull back and withdrawal from being out in a dangerous, public setting. How do we figure out how you can interact with your constituents back home, something you need to do, something - and they have every right to vent and scream at you, just how do we - how do we strike the balance where constituents can praise you, can ask you questions, can sometimes yell at you and we - but we also make sure that you are protected?

BERGMAN: Great question because back in April we had two mega town halls in my district, one above the bridge, one below the bridge. And in both cases there was a small group who complained about the level of security, too much in their mind. I would suggest, we will continue with town halls and they'll see the same level of not more security because of recent situations.

KING: Who's going to win the game tonight?

BERGMAN: Republicans.

KING: Appreciate your comments.

Are you glad they're going forward tonight? Would you have wished for a delay or is this the right thing to do?

BERGMAN: No, absolutely. You know, we're going to raise over $600,000 tonight for great charities, helps disadvantaged kids in the greater metro D.C. area. This game will go on as a charitable event and a sign of unity of the country.

KING: Appreciate that.

Congressman, appreciate your time today very much so.

BERGMAN: Thanks, John.

KING: Thank you. I mean that about a civility meeting.

Up next, more on the fallout from yesterday's shocking ambush. But, next, President Trump lashes out after new reports detailing how the special council is looking into potential obstruction of justice.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:16:02] KING: Welcome back.

New details today about the scope of the special counsel investigation of Russian election meddling and they are ominous these details for the Trump White House. Special Counsel Robert Mueller, investigators now questioning - want to question three top intelligence officials, the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, National Security Agency Chief Admiral Mike Rogers, and the admiral's recently resigned number two, Richard Ledgett (ph). None of them, of course, had anything to do with the 2016 Trump campaign. The special counsel wants to know if President Trump asked them to intervene with FBI leaders in an effort to shut down the investigation and if he asked them to make public statements designed to help the White House dismiss the legitimacy of the investigation.

You might recall Coats and Rogers told Congress last week the president never pressured them, but they refused to answer when asked if the president had asked them to help or to in any way describe their conversations with the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: Why are you not answering these questions? Is there an invocation by the president of the United States of executive privilege? Is there or not?

ADMIRAL MIKE ROGERS, NATIONAL SECRETARY AGENCY CHIEF: Not that I am aware of.

KING: Then why are you not answering our questions?

ROGERS: Because I feel it is inappropriate, senator.

KING: I - what you feel isn't relevant, admiral.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Ledgett resigned not long after he wrote a memo detailing a phone call the president placed to Admiral Rogers. "The Wall Street Journal" reports that in his memo Ledgett said the president wanted Admiral Rogers to publically deny any collusion between the Kremlin and Trump associates back in 2016, and that the president also questioned the intelligence community's unanimous conclusion that Russia had used cyber and other tools to meddle in the 2016 election.

With me to share their reporting and their insights, Jackie Kucinich of "The Daily Beast," "The Washington Post's" Kelsey Snell, Mary Katherine Ham of "The Federalist," and "The Washington Post's" Dan Balz.

Dan, I want to start with you.

Veterans of past administrations, we don't know where this goes. We need to be very careful about that. But that the special counsel is now looking at conduct by the president of the United States, not 2016 candidate Trump, satellite associates of candidate Trump. It tells you we're in a very new chapter.

DAN BALZ, "THE WASHINGTON POST": We definitely are. I think in many ways this was inevitable after the firing the James Comey and particularly after the testimony of James Comey. I think - I mean he indicated that Robert Mueller would have to, in a sense, resolve this question of, was there an obstruction of justice. So in that sense, it's not a surprise. But it has to be unnerving to the White House, even if they could see it coming. I mean to have an investigation aimed directly at the president of the United States, not simply at his campaign or associates of his campaign, not looking into what Russia did, putting aside whether it helped or didn't Donald Trump win the election.

This is now focused on the president of the United States. We have not had a situation like this in years and years and it is, as you say, I mean it is an ominous move even though we don't know where it will end. You're right, it's way premature to conclude what this is going to find.

KING: Even if it ends with absolutely nothing happened, or the president may have had some conversations that he probably should have known better about but he didn't cross any - actually cross any legal lines. You have cabinet level people who are now going to be interviewed by the special counsel and they're being interviewed by congressional committees as well. That means their chief of staff is going to be interviewed. That means the person who placed the phone call is going to be interviewed. That means anybody else in the room is going to be interviewed. That means month.

JACKIE KUCINICH, "THE DAILY BEAST": And in many ways the president brought this to himself just very recently by not being able to let this go and let the process work out.

KING: Not trusting Comey.

KUCINICH: Not trusting Comey. Not trusting the intelligence agencies. He really did just keep on picking at this. The same thing he did, in many ways, with his ban, his travel ban. He kept on talking about it. He keeps on scratching at it. And it just makes the situation worse, which is why his advises at the White House, outside of the White House, are telling him to dial it back and he's just not listening.

KING: Well, he's not dialing it back on that front.

KUCINICH: Apparently (ph) not.

KING: The lawyers also want to be careful because, again, there's legal jeopardy in anything he says in the middle of an investigation. But the president on tweeting this morning, "they made up a phony collusions with the Russian story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice. You are witnessing the single greatest witch hunt in American political history led by some very bad and conflicted people."

[12:20:09] If I were under investigation by Special Counsel Bob Mueller, a man with his experience as an investigator, and with the team he has just hired, I don't think I'd call him a very bad and conflicted people.

KELSEY SNELL, "THE WASHINGTON POST": No. You know, this is the kind of thing that gives members of Congress, the people that he needs to be his allies, heartburn. It's the thing that makes them worry when they step off the subway and see reporters. It's the kind of thing that makes it harder and harder for them to say, I'm going to stand by the president. And it erodes his ability to have a conversation with them where they trust that he can be - keep things close to his chest and that he can be even tempered. And I - it's dangerous.

KING: But, yet, does it also give his base faith that the president is fighting, that the establishment is trying to undermine your presidency, the deep state, as some put it, is leaking constantly to take you down, fight, Mr. President?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, "THE FEDERALIST": I mean, perhaps. And I think that's part of what he's doing here. He's also just being Trump, which is what got him here. But, I agree with Dan, that we sort of saw this coming with Comey's testimony. And I've long thought that there may be very little there there with the actual Russia - the allegation of collusion. But that once you get into these investigations and you have a principal here who is not careful with his words, that's the bigger danger as you start getting into these legally problematic conversations. And then you get stuck in one of those. And I think that's the road that we're now headed down.

KING: Right. And you see - you mentioned the - Democrats sometimes out over their skis about the collusion because, yes, there are a lot of meetings we need to know about, undisclosed meetings. Jared Kushner didn't disclose his meeting. That should be looked into. The attorney general didn't disclose his meetings and Mike Flynn didn't disclose his meetings, that's all being looked into. Democrats perhaps out ahead of the fact saying there's collusion.

But we now, again, as the special counsel investigates comes to way (ph), you now see in some reporting, you know, Bob Mueller's looking at financial ties. So what starts over here in these investigations, as I learned very well in the Bill Clinton days, starts over here, can go here and here.

And as this plays out, the president lashing out on Twitter. There's an Associated Press poll out today. Do you think Donald Trump has tried to impede or obstruct the Russia investigation. Yes, 61 percent. No, 37 percent. So there it is in the sense that the Trump base, no. But again, we don't know what happened. But if six in ten Americans think there president is trying to impede an investigation, that's a problem. And not just about the investigation, that's a problem when it comes to everything.

BALZ: Although, again, I think we have to be cautious about some of these poll findings because on almost any question you ask about President Trump, you're going to get a roughly 40/60 split, right, against him.

SNELL: Right.

BALZ: I mean that's just - right now that's kind of baked into the public opinion.

KING: But if it gets - if it gets baked - if the cement dries, how do you govern?

BALZ: Well, it's very difficult to govern, I mean, for the reasons that you talked about. Put aside where this all ends. Maybe they're all exonerated in the end. But the time and energy and heartburn that this creates is debilitating to their ability to actually do things.

KUCINICH: And to Kelsey's point, members of Congress, when they're going home and they're starting to get questions about this -

SNELL: Yes, absolutely.

KUCINICH: Instead of health care at their town halls, which, you know, they don't want to talk about anyway, but the more this seeps into just kind of the common - the conversations that people are having over their dinner table, the worse it is for Trump's - the people that Trump has to work with every day and that he needs to help push his agenda through Congress.

SNELL: Well, you also have to remember that his unpredictability doesn't just stop at where this Russia investigation lies. He said, you know, he had this big Rose Garden ceremony celebrating the House passed health care bill and then turned around and called it mean when he met with senators. And so there is - they don't know what to predict out of him on anything. And that becomes difficult when you're trying to do things like tax reform and trying to do health care, trying to do a massive transportation package without knowing what the president is ultimately going to back is really hard.

KING: The White House now refers all these questions to the president's private counsel, who has hired a communications consultant. Mark Corallo saying last night, quote, "the FBI leak of information regarding the president is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal." Now, I don't know if Mark has information none of us has, but he says the FBI leak. This was the leak that came out in news reports, "The Washington Post" first and elsewhere, after Bob Mueller met with members of the intelligence committee up here on Capitol Hill. I don't know where the leak came from, but the FBI leak, to me, that took - is a political strategy to talk - again, talking to the Trump base and conservatives, trying to pin this back on Comey, back on Comey allies, as the president is now in essentially a war of wills and sometimes word with James Comey.

HAM: Well, they also - and many of these people have a right to be annoyed by the fact that the things that leak are always the things that are bad for them. I think that is a fair point and something to be - they're annoyed by, right. So that's part of what's going on here.

On the polling question, it's important to note also that Comey himself said he wasn't trying to stop the investigation into what Russia did in this election.

KUCINICH: Right.

HAM: He was concerned with his own sort of exoneration and for these people to leak or announce that he was not the guy. So I think that was the preoccupation. It remains the preoccupation.

BALZ: But, I mean, there's a caveat even on that, which is, he also said to Lester Holt, I fired Comey. I was thinking of this Russia thing.

KING: Right.

[12:25:03] BALZ: Now, that's a broad - that's a broad statement, what exactly he meant. But he didn't say, I got rid of him because I - you know, the Flynn thing was still bothering me. He specifically cited Russia. He's clearly, you know, upset, angry that this Russia investigation continues around him. And he can't let go of that.

KING: And he has said 100 percent he's willing to sit down with Bob Mueller under oath and answers questions, (INAUDIBLE) Comey. And I suspect, when you look at the developments of the investigations, that one's down the road. The president would be the last if not are among the last people questioned. But that looks almost certain as well.

Everybody, please, sit tight for me.

Up next, jurors in the Bill Cosby sexual assault trial say they're deadlocked. We'll give you all the details just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Some breaking news now. The jury deciding Bill Cosby's fate just announced they cannot reach a unanimous decision. They are deadlocked. But it's not over. The judge has given this jury some instructions on the fourth day of deliberations, sent them back to work.

CNN correspondent Jean Casarez joins me live from Norristown, Pennsylvania, where this trial is taking place.

Jean, you're in the courtroom when this all played out. Take us inside. What happened?

[12:30:04] JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We got the directive that you just need to go into the courtroom, so we didn't know what was going to happen. Then we heard it was a question, but still it was strange. And got in the courtroom. I saw the jurors file in.