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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Takes Aim at Trade Partners; Bill Clinton New Interview; Supreme Court Rules on Abortion Case. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired June 4, 2018 - 09:30   ET

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


[09:33:07] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, President Trump is taking aim at some of the biggest U.S. trade partners, also our allies. And now prominent members of Congress in his own party are calling him out for what they say is a bad and dangerous move.

Our chief business correspondent, Christine Romans, is here with more.

It started with Ben Sasse on Friday calling it dumb and just escalated from there. McConnell, Corker --

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is something.

And, you know, here we are at the G-7 finance minister's meeting this weekend and basically for the first time I've ever seen you've got the rest of the countries signing basically a communique against the United States. And, you've got the America isolated, Canada insulted, the Chinese are furious and the White House is steadfast going forward with these new trade moves.

Listen to Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: The idea that the Canadian steel that's in military vehicles in the United States, the Canadian aluminum that makes your fighter jets is somehow now a threat. The idea that we are somehow a national security threat to the United States is quite frankly insulting and unacceptable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: That's right, these tariffs all come out of an investigation into section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 which gives the Commerce Department the right under U.S. law to impose these tariffs. And basically no one but the United States likes it.

And this is what the G-7 finance minister said in whistler (ph), they're preparing for the bigger leaders, G-7 summit finance minister requested that the United States secretary of treasury communicate their unanimous concern and disappointment. That might look like, you know, a trade statement, but those last four words are really remarkable here.

HARLOW: Unanimous concern and disappointment.

ROMANS: At the same time, the Chinese are ticked off, furious about tariffs as well. After a weekend of negotiations with the commerce secretary, this is what the Chinese commerce ministry says. If the U.S. launches trade sanction measures, including the imposition of tariffs, then all the economic and trade benefits negotiated by both sides are not going to take effect.

[09:35:02] HARLOW: OK, and even Bob Corker, a prominent Republican, who is headed out of office, but who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, he says, no way on these, that he is putting forth or supporting legislation to try to counter the president. What could Congress really do to tie the president's hands on this?

ROMANS: That's the real question, is there something they can do or is this mostly just hue and cry. Here's what Corker said. He's working with like-minded senators on ways to push back on the president using authorities in ways never intended and that are damaging our country. Will Democrats join this?

HARLOW: Right.

ROMANS: So that's sort of an interesting plea there.

What I'm hearing from inside the White House is the president is determined here and that, you know, you hear sort of this conventional wisdom, the economy is doing so well, why would they try to ruin it with tariffs. And what the thinking is among some inside the White House is the economy is doing so well, this is exactly the time to try to level the playing field, especially on high tech issues with the Chinese and to help the American steel and aluminum industry.

HARLOW: Except you have -- you risk this economy hitting a major, major roadblock, like McConnell warned over the weekend, because of this. You risk taking away all of the gains.

ROMANS: But that's not the view inside the White House.

HARLOW: Good to have that view from you.

ROMANS: Yes. Yes.

HARLOW: Thank you very much, Christine Romans, with us.

All right, ahead, former President Bill Clinton weighing in on Monica Lewinsky. Did he ever apologize? You'll hear his answer, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:40:30] HARLOW: Welcome back. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. And this morning, President Bill Clinton, the former president, talks about the Me Too movement and he takes on critics who say he should have resigned and not fought impeachment. Remember, Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said as much just a few months ago.

But here's what Bill Clinton said this morning. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: A lot of the facts have been conveniently omitted to make the story work, but -- I think partly because they're frustrated that they got all these serious allegations against the current occupant of the Oval Office and his voters don't seem to care.

I think I did the right thing. I defended the Constitution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think this president's been given a pass with regards to the women who have come forward and accused him of sexual misconduct?

CLINTON: Oh, well, I think that -- no, but it hasn't gotten anything like the coverage that you would expect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: He's sitting there with James Patterson, the author. They're promoting their new novel together.

With me now, Errol Louis, CNN political commentator, Salena Zito, CNN contributor and the co-author of a new book, "The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping America."

Nice to have you both here.

Salena, is the former president right that the coverage has not been as much as clearly he thinks it should be about President Trump on this issue?

SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, with President Trump, we have entered sort of a completely different age in terms of how everything is covered, including him. I don't know if he leads that sort of new disruptive way of looking at things, or if he doesn't, it's just part of our new culture. But he's certainly -- I'm sure Bill Clinton is sitting there thinking, well, if that was me, it would have been, you know, this or that or it would have been worse. Maybe. Maybe not. But, you know, it's -- we're just in a different age.

And I don't know if it's right or wrong. I just know that he has sort of a different, you know, a different measure of Teflon than maybe Clinton did.

HARLOW: Interesting.

ZITO: Then again, you know, people looked at Clinton back then and thought that he had that same sort of measure of being invincible to the press.

HARLOW: But you do note, you know, Errol, Clinton stops before saying, then I would, right? Different -- different -- you know, he gets more -- he gets less coverage of it than I would. He didn't say that.

Here's another moment from the interview where the president is asked about Monica Lewinsky and if he's ever spoken to her or should apologize to her directly. Let's play it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Yes, and nobody believes that I got out of that for free. I left the White House $16 million in debt. But you typically have ignored gaping facts in describing (ph) this and I bet you don't even know them. This was litigated 20 years ago. Two-thirds of the American people sided with me. They were not (INAUDIBLE) of that. I had a sexual harassment policy when I was governor in the '80s. I had two women chiefs of staff when I was governor. I've had nothing but women leaders in my office since I left. You are giving one side and omitting facts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: What do you make of that, Errol?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well -- well, first of all, I'm dying to know, what are these unknown facts that were supposed to have been asked. In fact, the interviewer, I think, kind of fell down a little bit. That should have been the very next question, hey, what facts are you talking about? This has been exhaustively covered. There's a bookshelf full of books about this. There's all kinds of living witnesses who can supply all kinds of information to cohobate or discredit whatever it is the president's getting at. So that really was the missed opportunity.

Also, I got to say, I mean, some of this stuff is not about the spirit of the age. You know, you've got stuff literally carved in stone tablets thousands of years ago talking about adultery and why it's bad, talking about why immoral conduct is bad, about why you're supposed to hold yourself to a higher standard. So the notion that, oh, Bill Clinton just kind of got caught in --

HARLOW: In a moment.

LOUIS: Yes, in a moment. Well, the moments are going on for a millennia at this point.

HARLOW: Let me ask you guys both about the president's tweets this morning because he's certainly making a lot of headlines. He's claiming that the special counsel is unconstitutional. He's also saying that he has the absolute legal right to pardon himself. He's legally completely wrong on the first claim. The special counsel is very constitutional.

But here's a tweet, Salena, from Ari Fleischer that just came in responding to this. He writes, and Congress has an absolute right to impeach. This is a foolish side issue. Can we all just wait for the Mueller report, what it has found or not found.

[09:45:02] Salena, what do you make of that response from Ari Fleischer?

ZITO: I think that's absolutely right. Let's just wait and find out what Mueller finds out. I talked to a lot of people on -- on sort of both sides of the aisle who have come to this, you know, realization that it's just important to wait, figure out what happened, wait until the investigation is over and then process, you know, the result. And Ari's right about Congress, they're the ones that then make the next step, whatever that step may be.

HARLOW: But -- so, but let me ask you about that, Errol, the role of Congress in all this, because, you know, now we -- the president has been trying to undermine the special counsel a lot. Now he says it's unconstitutional, that it just -- you know, he has the right to pardon himself and, by the way, Bob Mueller even existing or having this probe is unconstitutional.

LOUIS: Sure.

HARLOW: Is this a line? Is this a bridge too far for Republicans in Congress? They are all going to have to answer. Or is this just another day, another Monday?

ERROL: The president -- right, it's just another day because the president has been trying to obstruct, undermine, interfere with and cause confusion about this investigation from literally the day that it started.

HARLOW: I don't think he's called it unconstitutional before.

ERROL: Well, I mean he's going to keep ratcheting it up until somebody makes it stop. And that's really where people have to step forward. I mean you hear it just from Salena in this conversation, there are Trump supporters who are perfectly willing to say, oh, let's just let him say whatever he wants, let him, you know, redefine law, redefine the Constitution, say whatever kind of crazy thing he wants about whether or not he can pardon himself and we'll just let the institutions take care of it somewhere down the road.

Well, no, there is no somewhere down the road. The institutions have to take effect now. That includes the media. That includes the courts. That includes public opinion. That includes the voters. Everybody has to get involved when you hear this kind of -- these kinds of suggestions coming out of the Oval Office.

HARLOW: The polling shows that it's working, though, in terms of public opinion among his base and Republicans, that they are seeing the Mueller probe less and less favorably.

Guys, thank you. We're out of time. Salena, Errol, appreciate it.

ZITO: Thank you.

HARLOW: Ahead for us, a killer on the loose. Phoenix area police in a desperate search for a shooter who may have killed four people in three days. We'll have a live report ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:51:38] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

HARLOW: All right, we have breaking news just in out of the Supreme Court.

Let's go straight to our justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider.

And, Jessica, this is a unanimous decision from the high court overturning a lower court's ruling on whether an undocumented teen could get an abortion in the United States.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy, this was actually an order from the Supreme Court. Now, this was the first time that the Trump administration had petitioned the Supreme Court to hear an abortion-related case. And this morning the Supreme Court came down with the decision that was unsigned, but it basically gave the government part of what it wanted and didn't give the government part of what it wanted. So let me explain.

This is a case that drew the ire of the Trump administration, as well as Attorney General Jeff Sessions. You might remember it was back last fall where an undocumented teen crossed the border, she was taken into federal custody at a detention center, and it was -- once she was in -- within custody in Texas that she learned that she was pregnant and she wanted to go through with an abortion. Well, the federal court in Texas allowed her to go through with that abortion. However, the Trump administration's Health and Human Services, they operate the Office of Refugee Settlement, they basically said we have a policy that we do not facilitate abortions. They refused to transport her to the abortion clinic.

So this played out in the federal courts within Texas, also in the appeals court. Both of those courts ruled that she could in fact go forward with an abortion. So, in the meantime, the ACLU facilitated her to get that abortion, but the government still wanted to appeal further. They wanted to come here to the Supreme Court.

And what really drew their ire was the fact that the ACLU, they say, went forward with this so quickly. Within hours of that appeals court granting this teen a right to an abortion, she got that abortion. And the government said it happened too fast. We didn't have time to appeal.

So really that was the only issue that came here to the Supreme Court. The government said, we want to appeal this, and we want you to overturn those lower court orders that allowed this abortion to go forward. So, really, the damage was done here in the view of the government. The teen was able to go forward with this abortion. But what they wanted the Supreme Court to do was overturn those lower court opinions that allowed the abortion to go through.

So that's exactly what the Supreme Court did today. They sort of diffused this issue. The government also wanted sanctions issued on the ACLU. But for now, Poppy, those lower court rulings that allowed this abortion to go through for this undocumented teen, that has been overturned. So future cases like this, they cannot rely on that precedent.

HARLOW: Right.

SCHNEIDER: But, of course, this teen, in the end, did get that abortion, so the government not exactly winning this entire case.

Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes, and that's -- that's a very important point and distinction. Jessica Schneider, appreciate the reporting, right outside of the Supreme Court.

Our legal analyst Paul Callan is back with me.

The procedure went through. This teen did get the abortion. But the fact that the Trump administration wanted this, the Supreme Court to consider this, and the fact that this order came down even post the procedure taking place is significant, as Jessica noted, because they didn't want a precedent set that could be used in future cases.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, that's right. And because what happens in the federal courts is that sometimes the federal districts, one court would -- might be ruling that abortion is legal in this circumstance, another might be ruling that it's not legal. It only -- those rulings then only apply to the district in question. But when it goes to the U.S. Supreme Court, it applies to the entire nation.

[09:55:11] And so this kind of presents an important hint that the Supreme Court, as currently constituted, at least in this fact pattern, is not friendly to the idea of an abortion being facilitated by the federal government. This was a 17-year-old girl, Poppy, who came across the border and requested an abortion. And although she got the abortion, the court has now said that's not precedent for the rest of the country.

HARLOW: Appreciate the analysis of it, Paul, thank you very much.

CALLAN: Thank you.

HARLOW: All right, the other breaking news this morning, the president says he has an absolute right to pardon himself, next.