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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump's Shutdown Threat; 3-D Gun Debate; Trump Holds Rally in Florida; Former FEMA Boss Accused of Sex For Jobs; Carr Fire Grows; Woodward Writes New Book. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired July 31, 2018 - 09:30   ET

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


[09:30:00] PERRY BACON, SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: Ryan and other Republican's comments, they're kind of ignoring the president. And they have been doing this for about a year and a half now. And this wall issue, the party that, you know, that he's a part of has not prioritized it and it's kind of in -- and if you remember, Trump has threatened a shutdown over this wall. He did it last year. He did it earlier this year. He's done this same kind of threat before and not followed through.

I think this is a bluff. I think the Republican leaders know that. I think they're going to ignore him for that reason.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Let me talk about 3-D guns. This is not getting, to be frank, enough attention, but it happens tomorrow.

So, Rachael, as you know, a government settlement -- this is a legal case that's been fought since 2013. A government settlement with the Trump administration means that starting tomorrow morning plans for printing 3-D guns, even AR-15s, will be allowed to legally go online. I was just reading some CNN reporting that apparently these are already up online for some folks. A thousand people have already downloaded the plans to print out AR-15s.

But the president, this morning, just wrote this on Twitter, I'm looking into 3-D plastic guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to the NRA. Doesn't seem to make much sense.

So the president is opposing this, but this is a deal made with his administration. Where does it go?

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And the president can actually change that, obviously. He -- he makes the calls on this and we all know that when it comes to gun control, the president doesn't necessarily fall along party lines. We saw him call for gun control before, take the weapons now, do background checks later. He was big on the bump stocks, calling into question whether bump stocks should be allowed, basically turning certain weapons into semiautomatic weapons.

And on this I wouldn't be surprised if you see him push back on this. This is -- there's a reason that there are gun laws and you have to get a background check before you get one. This basically allows you to circumvent that and create your own gun. And regarding that, I wouldn't be surprised if we see the president continue to push back on this.

HARLOW: Right.

BADE: I am curious to see where Republican leadership falls on this because Congress hates to act on these sort of issues. But, clearly, this is an issue that could be -- continue to pop up in the headlines.

HARLOW: Well, do you think, Perry, that, you know, the NRA and particularly gun manufacturers wouldn't like to see this happen because it would eat into their business, frankly, of selling -- of selling the guns. But one critic of it this morning on CNN said, look, our only option now is for an injunction.

BACON: Right. I think the big question will be not like what Trump tweets but that doesn't really have much effect, it will be what the U.S. government under his leadership does. There's now a lawsuit from Democratic attorneys general that would basically, you know, try to stop this from happening, try to stop these blueprints from going online. And I'll be curious to see if Trump actually tries to take some action here or if he encourages other Republican attorney generals to do so, because that would be where the rubber meets the road here.

HARLOW: Yes.

BACON: A big question I think to me is whether like -- whether the outlines of how to do this are like a free speech issue or a gun rights issue or if they're more something the government can restrict pretty well. And I think that's where the president's got to figure out is like where does he actually try to lead on this issue, not what -- not what he tweets.

HARLOW: Right. Well, that's important. I mean it's 21 state attorneys general who have filed this.

Finally tonight the president heads to Tampa. He heads to Florida. An important state for him in 2016. An important state for him in 2020.

Rachael, he is going to be speaking at a rally for the gubernatorial candidate there, DeSantis, who was an underdog until the president got involved and now he's leading and just put out this ad that got us all talking.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CASEY DESANTIS, RON DESANTIS' WIFE: He's teaching Madison to talk.

RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Make America great again.

C. DESANTIS: People say Ron's all Trump, but he is so much more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Critics of DeSantis say, look, Rachael, this guy, all he talks about is Trump. We don't know where he stands on policy. Trump is a king maker. Here he made this candidate. How do you see it?

BADE: Well, I can tell you, I've covered DeSantis for a while up on The Hill. He's an ardent conservative, a member of the Freedom Caucus, a pain in GOP leadership's side.

But, you're right, he's definitely put on the Trump cap. He has been out there defending the president left and right, calling into question the FBI investigation, Russia investigation over the Russia controversy and for that he's made friends with the president. So the president's doing him a solid right now in terms of campaigning for him.

I do think it's interesting, though, because there are a lot of Republicans who are telling us right now that they are uncertain if the election happened today that they would keep the House. And a lot of that is because of the president. They've had a rough couple of weeks because the family separation issue, the Helsinki summit --

HARLOW: Yes.

BADE: Where he didn't hold Putin accountable for intervening in our elections or trying to meddle in our elections. And so when it comes to other candidates, there's a concern that the president is actually hurting them right now, whereas right now he's trying to help a more conservative Republican in Florida. He can actually help in Florida, but some other districts, he's causing a problem.

HARLOW: All right, we'll talk to the former head of the Republican Party in Florida next hour about that and dig in a lot more.

[09:35:01] Appreciate you both being here, Perry and Rachael. Thanks.

The former head of human resources at FEMA is accused of trading sex for jobs. Coming up, his response when confronted with the allegations.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Disturbing allegations against the former head of human resources at FEMA. A new report accuses this man, Corey Coleman, of trading sex for jobs at the agency and demoting women who turned down his advances. The accusations don't stop there. Investigators allege when they approached Coleman for an interview, he resigned.

Our Rene Marsh is tracking this story and she joins me now.

Stunning to read through this reporting. And the director of FEMA, Brock Long, has said, Rene, some of this behavior could rise to the level of criminal activity. What happened?

RENE MARSH, CNN GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely right. He's actually referred it to the inspector general's office for further review. I mean, you said it, the details are really disturbing. They're all laid out in this executive summary of the internal FEMA investigation, which CNN reviewed. [09:40:02] We know this was a seven-month investigation. There were 73

witnesses and 89 statements. And FEMA found that Coleman had sexual relationships with female subordinates. It's unclear how many women he slept with in exchange for jobs at FEMA, but it could be several because the agency says this alleged behavior spanned for several years.

We know Coleman was hired in 2011. The first known accusation right now dates back to 2015. In one case he allegedly used his authority as head of HR to reassign a female employee so that she could work directly with him. He brought her on work travel and initiated this sexual relationship with her. She says after she refuses further advances, he -- she was denied a promotion.

We also can tell you that "The Washington Post" additionally is reporting that Coleman transferred female employees to other departments within FEMA so his friends could try to have sexual relationships with these women. Coleman hired his fraternity brothers at the agency and women that he met at bars and on dating apps. That -- those are all the allegations. And we know that when investigators approached him, as you mentioned, he resigned from the agency in June.

HARLOW: And no comment from him, right?

MARSH: No. At this point, we have reached out via e-mail and we still have not heard anything from Coleman.

HARLOW: OK.

The Brock Long FEMA director said, you know, how many complaints have we not heard. And his focus now is on making this a safe working environment for everyone since this went on, frankly, for years. Are they changing practice, policy, how they keep an eye on things like this?

MARSH: Well -- so after this investigation wrapped up internally, Brock Long said that he is ordering several changes, including an independent party to analyze other potential complaints happening within the agency. Counseling services for FEMA employees, which didn't exist before. Mandatory sexual harassment training. And he's also going to establish an office to resolve employee misconduct in a very fair way.

So, lots of changes underway as a result of what they found in this investigation, Poppy.

HARLOW: Good. You would think they should have had those things before this happened.

MARSH: Yes.

HARLOW: Thanks, Rene. Appreciate the reporting.

It is one of the most destructive wildfires in California's history. Firefighters say the Carr fire is still growing, bringing with it a brand new set of problems. We'll have a live report ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:46:52] HARLOW: Firefighters in northern California are working around the clock to tame the deadly Carr wildfire that has doubled in size over just the last few days. It is seven times the size of Manhattan. It is visible, as you see, from space. These are NASA images. And now it is spanning more than 100,000 acres, bringing destruction all over.

Couple that with the weather, low humidity, triple digit temperature, slowing the efforts to try to get this thing under control, and now new concern for firefighters. The fire is so large, it is actually creating a weather system of its own.

Let's go to Dan Simon again this morning who's there for us.

I mean that's stunning. Seven times the size of Manhattan and the weather is not helping get this thing under control at all.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Poppy.

It's just, you know, amazing when you drive around these streets and you just see the wreckage. I mean this is a common street. Look at this, about four or five houses just in a row and there's just nothing left here. This is the Lake Redding Estates neighborhood. And much of the neighborhood looks just like this.

Now, given the fact that we're at 23 percent containment, we are now beginning to see some progress, Poppy, and the fire seems to be burning away from populated areas. So that's great news. But that does not mean that the threat is over. But it does mean that thousands of evacuees can now start returning to their homes in the city of Redding. You know, there was a community meeting last night and we saw how anxious, of course, people are to get back into their homes.

But in order for a recovery to happen, a lot of work has to take place. You, obviously, have to clear the roadways of debris. You have to get the power back on. You have to clear all the downed power lines. Of course, those are for people who want to get back into their homes. A lot of people, of course, don't have homes to go back to.

This is what one homeowner told us. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSH LISTER, LOST HOME IN FIRE: It looks like an atomic bomb went off. I mean after the fact. We got a few pictures from some friends. But it was a firestorm when we left.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON: This Carr fire, it's just amazing. It's the seventh most destructive wildfire in California history. And, keep in mind, Poppy, that we're not even in the height of fire season. That's usually in late August and September. But you have 17 major wildfires burning across the state of California. So, still a lot of summer left to go. Poppy.

HARLOW: And just hearing from these families -- I mean, to be clear, you're seeing and you're allowed in because you're a journalist covering this. The families in this neighborhood, for example, aren't even allowed to come back yet, right, and see for themselves what's happened?

SIMON: That's exactly right. You know, most people who lost their homes, they have a pretty good idea of what things look like just from the aerial pictures and what they've heard from local authorities. But in terms of when they can come back in, it's still too unsafe. You know, the roadways are still littered with debris. But, you're right, journalists are allowed back in. And eventually, obviously, as the recovery proceeds, more and more people will allowed to be, you know, back in and sort of pick through the debris and see if there's anything they can find.

Poppy.

HARLOW: Oh, Dan, thank you for being there and for bringing us these stories and these firsthand accounts. We wish them all the best and all those firefighters on the front lines.

[09:50:02] Thanks, Dan.

A federal court in California is ordering broad changes in how the U.S. government has to treat migrant children held in their secure facilities. The orders range from getting consent before giving kids certain medication, requiring the government to stop imposing conditions that delay releasing minors to parents or relatives. The judge said in this decision that the government violated the 1997 settlement that dictates how these children are treated when they are being held by the U.S. government. The Justice Department declined to comment on that order.

A small female horn shark is back home at the San Antonio Aquarium after truly being snatched out of her tank over the weekend. Yes, this happened. Police say two men and a woman with a baby watched the tank for over an hour, then grabbed the shark, put her in a baby stroller. Police found the shark last night. The man had apparently added her to his extensive collection of sea creatures at his house. All three are facing charges. Wow.

All right, the same investigative journalist who broke Watergate now taking a deep dive on the Trump White House. What kind of revelation will we see in Bob Woodruff's (ph) new book?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:55:38] HARLOW: The Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who helped to break the Watergate scandal is now the author of a tell-all book about the Trump presidency. Bob Woodward has written a new book. The title is "Fear: Trump in the White House." It releases publically in mid- September. And one source says this book will give readers, quote, a front row seat to Trump and his time in the White House. Of course breaking this story, as she always does, special

correspondent Jamie Gangel.

This is so fascinating. Who did he speak to and what is this going to show us?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, first of all, I think Donald Trump is about to get the Bob Woodward treatment. And I mean that in an old-school way. Bob went dark eight months ago. He started calling people, knocking on doors, going to people's homes unannounced. And he spoke to dozens of White House sources, people who were firsthand in the room with Trump. And not only did he speak to them -- by the way, they are not -- they are on deep background. So this isn't -- we remember deep throat from Watergate. This is dozens of deep throats. He recorded, with their permission, every conversation. So there is documentation.

In addition, he said to them, I'm told, bring proof. And they brought files, documents, memos, diaries, including notes written by Donald Trump. So this is a very well documented, fact-checked --

HARLOW: Including handwritten notes by the president.

GANGEL: Including handwritten notes by the president.

HARLOW: But another source of yours said, "Fear" is the most intimate portrait of a sitting president ever published -- ever published --

GANGEL: Right.

HARLOW: During a president's first year in office. Wow.

Two-fold question here. One, what will it dive into? I would assume some of the most controversial parts of this presidency. Charlottesville, for example.

GANGEL: Right. On the domestic side, trade, tariffs. I'm told Charlottesville, Virginia. What was happening behind the scenes?

HARLOW: Right.

GANGEL: What was President Trump saying in those meeting?

HARLOW: What was behind the both sides.

GANGEL: Well -- you know, what really was going on?

HARLOW: OK.

GANGEL: Internationally, I think national security. I'm told we're going to see Donald Trump in the Oval Office, in the Situation Room, national security meetings, Air Force One, even the White House residence. And I think those national security meetings are key. That's what Bob Woodward does. He goes back and he gets these things and documents them.

HARLOW: He does. And when you look at the I think 18 books he's written --

GANGEL: Yes. Yes.

HARLOW: You go and look at some of the more recent ones. In the Bush 43 presidency or the Obama presidency, they've been controversial, somewhat, because they've relied on, you know, confidential sources of his. But they're deeply reported. And this has to be seen very differently. You named the -- you mentioned the recordings --

GANGEL: Right.

HARLOW: Than the Michael Wolff book, for example, right?

GANGEL: Right. Where we know --

HARLOW: I mean this is not along the same lines.

GANGEL: No. So we know that Michael Wolff took literary license and dramatized. It's a very different kind of book. That is not Bob Woodward. He meticulously fact checks. There are multiple sources on things. And I'm told that the public will, in effect, go face to face with Donald Trump. That you will see behind the scenes what was going on in these meetings.

HARLOW: Did he talk to the president for it?

GANGEL: The last time he talked to the president was March 31, 2016. And I know that date because that's what the title "Fear" is based on.

HARLOW: The quote?

GANGEL: There is -- the quote. So there was a comment where President Trump said, real power is -- and then he said, I don't even want to use the word -- fear.

HARLOW: There you go.

GANGEL: So that's what it comes from.

HARLOW: Thank you, Jamie.

GANGEL: Thank you.

HARLOW: Great reporting.

GANGEL: Thank you.

HARLOW: Thanks for bringing it to us.

All right, top of the hour. 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Good morning, everyone, I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.

And welcome to the first day of the first trial arising from the special counsel investigation. The United States versus former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort happening now in a federal courtroom in Virginia. Manafort's lawyers, Robert Mueller's prosecutors and the judge are beginning the process of screening and seating jurors.

[10:00:02] Over the next week, three weeks or so, they're going to hear evidence alleging that Manafort made tens of millions of dollars working as a lobbyist for pro-Russian figures in Ukraine.