Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Hurls Insults, Hammers Fallon as White House Preaches Civility; Romney Running for Senate as Friend or Foe or Trump; Erik Princes Hands over Phones, Computer to Special Counsel; Democrat Hope Ad Helps Her Win Red Texas Congressional District. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired June 26, 2018 - 14:30   ET

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


[14:30:00] DAVID ZURAWIK, TV & MOVIE CRITIC, TV BLOG, BALTIMORE SUN: You know, I'll tell you, I watched this earlier today, especially the Fallon thing, and I thought, he's in dangerous territory. These guys are really smart. And Fallon made two very savvy political points, one about hey, Melania, the anti-bullying thing isn't exactly working, which is an important point this week as we're arguing about civility and should bad things be said to Trump's people when they go to restaurants and that. And then this remark about, I have more important things to do, oh, wait, this is the president, it's a reminder that this guy is just not serious. I mean, he's dangerously silly, and even show business stupid in a way with these tweets and these attacks. What is he fighting with a late-night host for? Again, these guys are really smart and fast. They're stand-up comedians. They're much smarter than him. These are not the guys he wants to fight with.

By the way, we're not in the era of Johnny Carson where one late night host has a huge audience and a sort of hegemonic platform. But I will tell you what, you find me a late-night host today who isn't mocking Trump. Taken together collectively, late night is a wall of mockery of Trump. And I think that's a good thing.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: But hang on. On that note, Jimmy Fallon, I feel like he -- he's not all-in entirely on politics. He kind of had to be last night. Like, funny guy, but even, you know, the bit where he mentioned Trump hadn't done him any favors with his ratings, do you think he may or his show, his bits may change, after last night?

ZURAWIK: I don't know. I think, Brooke, you're absolutely right about him being the political light, the lightest in terms of politics and the least hard hitting and probably the guy who wants to have a show of yuck, yuck, that kind of monologue. But I watched him over the years, and he is a very smart guy. He just doesn't seem to enjoy politics as much as, say, Colbert does. But this is not a guy to have coming after you with the rest of the late-night hosts. You know, I don't know, I think bottom line, the truth covering these guys for a long time, I think with someone like Fallon, he will do what ratings dictate and what his bosses want him to do and that. And if the political humor they feel with the focus groups and their sense that it's hurting him with an audience, I don't think he'll do it as much. I don't think he's Lenny Bruce. That's not where he's going. To hear him last night, I thought he was really very good and -- BALDWIN: He was on it.

SURAWIK: -- I thought he was on the money, yes.

BALDWIN: David Zurawik, "Baltimore Sun," thank you very much for all things late-night TV.

Next, let's talk Mitt Romney. Will he be the next U.S. Senator in the state of Utah? He will find out today. Dana Bash is there, went one on one with the former presidential candidate. Will he support President Trump's agenda if he wins? Wait until you hear what he told us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:37:30] BALDWIN: Today is primary day in seven states, including Utah, where Mitt Romney is hoping to restart his political career as the Republican nominee for the Senate seat vacated by Orrin Hatch. Romney has been walking a fine line when it comes to President Trump. He has accepted the president's endorsement but says he will continue to criticize him when appropriate.

CNN's Dana Bash looks at how that's all playing out on the campaign trail.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Watch what happens when a Utah voter hands Senate candidate, Mitt Romney, re- elect Trump buttons.

Um: Can I give you some of these?

MITT ROMNEY, (R), SENATE CANDIDATE FOR UTAH & FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You can give them to me. I haven't decided who I will support yet.

BASH: Take the Trump button, don't put it on. A simple moment summing up Romney's complex approach to this campaign, embrace Trump policies he agrees with, blast what he doesn't. These days that's on immigration.

ROMNEY: The policy that led to the separation of children at the -- from their families at the border was heartbreaking, heart wrenching, and simply wrong.

BASH: In early 2016, Romney was the Never Trump poster boy.

ROMNEY: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as the degree from Trump University.

BASH: Eight months later, a different tone as President-Elect Trump considered him for secretary of state.

ROMNEY: These discussions I've had with him have been enlightening and interesting. BASH (on camera): When you go to the Senate, which Mitt Romney is

going to go, the one that called Donald Trump a fake and a phony, or the one who talked to him about being secretary of state?

ROMNEY: I believe I've made it pretty clear that I'll stand with President Trump if the policies he's proposing are good for the state of Utah, for other states and for the nation. On the other hand, if he were to say something divisive and significant, something which were racist or anti-woman or anti-immigrant, then I feel a moral responsibility to speak out.

BASH (voice-over): The few Republicans doing that now from Jeff Flake to Bob Corker, are retiring.

(on camera): Is that one of the reasons you're going to Washington?

ROMNEY: I recognize if you're in Washington and elected as a leader of our country, even though you're only one of 100 in the Senate, you need to speak out on things you care deeply about.

BASH (voice-over): At 71, this two-time GOP presidential candidate thought his campaign days were behind him. Then Utah Senator Orrin Hatch decided to retire and urged Romney to run for his seat.

ROMNEY: I did not expect to do this after I lost to Barack Obama, did you know I lost? Yes.

[14:40:07] BASH: Wife, Ann, pushed him to do it.

ROMNEY: She said, well, you can get more done for Utah and our country than the average junior Senator from Utah.

BASH: Romney first ran for Senate a quarter century ago in Massachusetts, challenging Ted Kennedy, and losing by 17 points. He later ran for governor there and won.

But key for Utah, stepping in to lead the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Committee in the wake of a priory scandal. His GOP opponent calls Michigan-born Romney a carpetbagger, but his ancestors were early leaders in Utah's large Mormon population.

ROMNEY: I joke I'm a five generation Utahan, but my dad and I took a little time off for our business career.

BASH: Running for president, Romney was known to make awkward statements that landed with a thud.

Not in Utah.

ROMNEY: Hostess Twinkies, that's right, those were built about two and a half years ago, but I'm told they're still good.

BASH: A long-time confident tells CNN Utah is a natural fit for Romney, but what about being one of 100 in the Senate?

ROMNEY: I spoke to one Senator who said you're going to hate it. Scared me to death. This is a time that's critical.

BASH: Dana Bash, CNN, Orem, Utah.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: Let's go to Dana in Utah. She's up live for us now.

You've seen the big news today, this third iteration of the president's travel ban upheld by the Supreme Court, the president hailing this as a tremendous victory. You've just talked to Mitt Romney about this. What did he say?

BASH: That's right. Let me just give you a little bit of context of where I am.

BALDWIN: Oh, he's over your shoulder.

BASH: Governor Romney here with his wife, Ann, and a couple of their grandchildren. And I just talked to him moments ago before he sat down to eat about the travel ban, and the gist of what he said is that he's not surprised by the Supreme Court decision, because he actually thinks it is OK for the president to exert his executive authority on this very narrow ban, this travel ban that he has.

One thing that was interesting is that last night when he was talking to voters he said, the word "great" has been used a lot, but I want to talk about what is good. We want America to be good. I asked him if he thinks that things travel ban is good, is it good for the American psyche, good for the American way of life. And he said, yes, he said he thinks this is specifically about national security, and the origin of it, which was a Muslim ban, has been -- he said sort of knocked down by the fact that the majority of Muslims in the world are not affected by this ban.

So there are a lot of ways, as you saw in the piece, where Mitt Romney is separating himself and harshly criticizing the president on issues of immigration. With regard to the travel ban, at least today, this isn't one of them -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: I spy barbecue sauce. And I hope you're able to join the governor and eat a little lunch in Salt Lake City.

Dana, thank you.

BASH: We'll try.

BALDWIN: Thank you so much.

BASH: Maybe I can get him to wave.

BALDWIN: Hi, Governor.

All right, Dana, thank you very much.

Make sure you all tune in tonight here, the results from the primaries this evening, all this evening on CNN. Coming up next, Trump associate Blackwater founder, Erik Prince,

handing over his phones and computers to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Details on what they may be looking for.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:47:53] BALDWIN: Another associate of President Trump appears to be cooperating with Robert Mueller's investigation. Blackwater founder, Erik Prince, handed over his phones and computer to Mueller's office. It's not entirely clear how much more he's cooperating. But we know that Mueller has been looking into a specific meeting Prince held with a Russian banker and officials from the UAE.

So Shimon Prokupecz is all over this. He's our crime and justice reporter.

And if we're talking phones and computers, what might the Mueller team be looking to get?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: Certainly contacts, Brooke, certainly any other information that he obtained. It could be e-mails on hard drives. We know that Erik Prince was involved partially with the campaign. He wrote foreign policy papers, donations made. And then, of course, there's this Seychelles meeting that occurred in January 2017 that the Mueller team has been investigating. Of interest in particular, we've been told is that there was a meeting between Erik Prince and a Russian banker. And, of course, there's been a lot of speculation that this meeting and that the Russians were trying to set up a back-door channel, back-door communications with Trump who was eventually about weeks away from being in the White House. Perhaps that could be one of the aspects that Mueller is looking at here.

The other thing is his contacts. Erik Prince also has contacts and ties to a Middle Eastern kind of shadowy, shady kind of character who has been interviewed by Bob Mueller and cooperating with Mueller. And in that cooperation in this Middle Eastern man's cooperation, Erik Prince's name has come up. There's a host of issues here that Erik Prince could be questioned about. Of course, as with most things in this, Brooke, with Mueller, we don't exactly know. But certainly there are certain aspects and tea leaves we can read that show that because of what Mueller is looking at, foreign influence, not just Russian, could be others, that this could be something that Erik Prince would have been questioned about.

[14:49:54] BALDWIN: Shimon, thank you very much.

Coming up next here on CNN, she is a Purple Heart combat veteran, she is a mom, and she is hoping that one powerful campaign ad can help the Democrat win a very red congressional district in Texas. We will talk to her next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: As we mentioned, it is primary day for several states as we get closer to the midterms. And a big theme you will notice this year women. For example, there are 500 women running for Congress across America, including a combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient in Texas hoping to beat a Republican who has never faced a significant threat.

It is her ad that is getting the headlines. She tells the story of her life through the lens of doors opening and closing on her. Here is a piece.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[14:55:07] M.J. HEGAR, (D), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE FROM TEXAS: Two Army helicopters rescued us from the wreckage. I strapped myself to the skids and returned fire on the Taliban while we flew to safety. That got me a Purple Heart and I became the second woman ever awarded the distinguishing flying cross with valor. After that the door closed. Injured and unable to fly was barred from my next career choice because I was a woman. I came home, I worked in health care and business. I got married, and started my family.

Wait. Barred because I was a woman? That's ridiculous. So I sued the Pentagon. Not just about that job. About the ban on women serving in all ground combat jobs and I went to D.C. to lobby Congress, but door after door was slammed in my face. I heard things like, my boss agrees with you but you weren't in a position to do anything for him. You're not one of our donors. Well, eventually --

LEON PANETTA, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We are eliminating the direct ground combat exclusion rule for women.

HEGAR: -- we won.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: M.J. Hegar joins me now.

M.J., that ad is a wow. And thank you, by the way, for your service to this country. Thanks for coming on with me.

HEGAR: Thanks for having me on. It was my great honor to serve.

BALDWIN: Of all of the doors, which is the one you are most proud of?

HEGAR: I think that eliminating the ground combat exclusion policy was critical not just to open opportunities for women to compete for elite military positions that lead to leadership positions but was important because I believe that legislation leads culture. And tearing down some of the policies is important to creating a more conducive culture to being accepted of diversity of thought and people who maybe look different and think different, being on the team to contribute.

BALDWIN: OK. Let's talk Texas. The district you are running in, district 31, it is deeply conservative, not to mention your opponent is the incumbent with 15 years of experience, that is 15 years more than you politically speaking. You have broken down doors, but why do you think you can win? HEGAR: Well, I think I've accomplished more in D.C. than he has in

eight terms as a private citizen. I think I'm more reflective of the district because I'm from here, I was raised here, I met my husband here when I was 7 in elementary school. There's more veterans in our district than in 97 percent of the rest of the country. My opponent is aware of that and that's why he's always talking about veterans issues. But he didn't serve and has failed veterans over and over again. So I think that my district is ready for a change. That's what the data shows us. The data shows us that, despite people calling it deeply red. It's getting moved to likely red more and more. And it's because people there are discerning, they're veterans, they want present representation. Even if you disagree with them or this or that they want someone to show up and care and fight for them.

BALDWIN: We'll see who shows up in November.

In the meantime, quickly, on your opponent, you know, in your ad you say John Carter never took a meeting with you. He says otherwise. He says your claims are, quote, "absolutely untrue." So which is it?

HEGAR: Well, I co-founded an organization that went to D.C. to meet with all of our representatives about a couple dozen combat female veterans that wanted to talk to our reps, and I've never met him. If he has proof we've met we should talk about that. But it's not just me. He hasn't held a town hall in five years. There was an article in "The Hill Country News" called "Where's Carter." Because not just people who disagree with him, he just doesn't seem interested in representing us. Seems like he's acting like he wants to retire. I just want to help show him the door and remind him he's not sitting in his seat, he's sitting in our seat.

BALDWIN: Show him the door.

To the theme of your life, M.J., lastly, I've been spending my weekends the last couple weeks interviewing women like you, on the left and right, who are running for office in this country. There's this unprecedented number of women who have really taken this keen interest, you know, beyond simply helping someone else getting elected but want it themselves. Why do you think that is? Why do you think it's this year, this election?

HEGAR: I think women realize what's at stake. I think women have always consistently throughout history risen to the challenge when we feel like the very character and soul of our nation is at risk. I think women are sick of, you know, the men in office telling us they're going to protect our rights and fight for us. We know what's at stake. We have seen a lot of barriers removed for women, like myself with young children to be able to run for office. And as more of those barriers are removed we will see more women running for and being elected into office.

BALDWIN: M.J. Hegar, thank you for coming on. Good luck.

HEGAR: Thanks, Brooke.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news. [15:00:01] BALDWIN: We continue on. You're watching CNN. I'm

Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with us.

The breaking news, vindication and victory. That is how the White House is describing the United States Supreme Court's decision today upholding the administration's controversial travel ban against --