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CNN Asks for Emergency Hearing; Trump Slams Admiral McRaven; Battle Looms over House Speakership. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired November 19, 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] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Temporary restraining order. By nature they last for two weeks, 14 days. The White House saying, OK, that's all the time you have.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Right.

SCIUTTO: So CNN wants here the judge to move to a more lasting decision, right?

STELTER: Yes, that's exactly right.

SCIUTTO: A temporary injunction.

STELTER: Yes. CNN was victorious in round one. I said on Friday, we don't know how many rounds there's going to be. Looks like there's going to be many rounds in this legal battle because almost as soon as that temporary restraining order was put into effect on Friday, Bill Shine and Sarah Sanders, two of the defendants in the lawsuit, sent a letter to Acosta, a two-page letter that I have here, that essentially lays the groundwork to take the press pass and revoke it again, which would essentially be at the end of the month, you know, 11 days from today.

So the letter says that they believe he violated basic standards of behavior at that press conference on November 7th. Of course, all the nation's major news outlets are standing with CNN, standing with Acosta in this case. But the White House is vowing to fight on.

So here's CNN's newest statement about this as we go back to court this morning with a new filing. CNN says the White House is continuing to violate the First and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution. These actions threaten all journalists and all news organizations. And then it continues, Jim Acosta and CNN will continue to report the news about the White House and the president.

So the legal maneuver here, guys, is that this new document, this new status report, is a request for the judge to have a hearing next week. He wants a -- CNN's asking for a hearing next week in order to get that preliminary injunction.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: You know what will be really telling, Brian, is, in the next 11 days, should they have a press conference, will they call on Jim Acosta?

STELTER: Right. HARLOW: Even if he gets to be in there, it also matters to have the

opportunity to pose important questions.

STELTER: Yes. And whether Acosta is called on, whether other CNN reporters are called on, whether anybody is called on. You know, Trump goes hot and cold. He has hot times where he's answering lots of questions, then he has cold periods where he ignores the press and doesn't really engage. So I don't know if we're in a hot or a cold period right now. But, bottom line here, as we said before, this is not about Acosta. This is about a slippery slope. This is about what other reporters could be targeted by this White House and it is about why the president is trying to pick and choose the reporters who are covering this president (ph).

SCIUTTO: Well, arguably by this White House or future White Houses, right?

STELTER: That's absolutely right.

SCIUTTO: Future administrations. You set a precedent here now.

STELTER: And that's, I think, why CNN is willing to keep going to court to keep fighting this battle.

HARLOW: Yes. Right.

STELTER: So, stay tuned. Maybe this time next week, another hearing.

HARLOW: OK, Brian, thank you.

STELTER: Thanks.

SCIUTTO: Brian Stelter, thanks.

President Trump already being criticized for skipping several key military events in recent days, but now he is facing backlash for what he said about the retired admiral who led the raid -- the successful raid, of course, on Osama bin Laden.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:36:38] SCIUTTO: Welcome back.

Just days after getting slammed for skipping a military event in France and not visiting Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day, President Trump is taking aim at the man who led the Osama bin Laden raid. Earlier this year, Retired Navy Admiral William McRaven criticized Trump for his attacks on the media and for revoking former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance. And it seems the president has not forgotten about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": McRaven. retired admiral, Navy SEAL, 37 years, former head of U.S. special operation.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hillary Clinton fan.

WALLACE: Special operations command.

TRUMP: Excuse me, Hillary Clinton fan.

WALLACE: Who led the operations -- command of the operations that took down Saddam Hussein and that killed Osama bin Laden says that your sentiment is the greatest threat to democracy in his lifetime.

TRUMP: OK, he's a Hillary Clinton backer and an Obama backer. And, frankly --

WALLACE: He was a Navy SEAL, 37 years.

TRUMP: Wouldn't it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Well, Admiral McRaven tells CNN he did not back Clinton or anyone else in 2016 and is standing by his earlier comments, releasing this statement, and I'm quoting here, I admire all presidents who uphold the dignity of the office. When you undermine the people's right to free press and freedom of speech and expression, then you threaten the Constitution and all for which it stands.

Joining us now to discuss this is another military man, former Marine and former press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the Pentagon, we have Dave Lapan here.

Dave, thanks for taking the time this morning.

DAVID LAPAN, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Absolutely.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this, because you were in uniform, you were in duty at the Pentagon the night of that raid, as well as, of course, the months, the days and weeks and months leading up to it. Tell us what you saw then about the focus of the U.S. military to find Osama bin Laden and how that leads -- how your experience then leads you to react to the president's comments here, in effect saying the military took its time?

LAPAN: Well, a couple of points I'd make, Jim, is that I think the president's comments show a fundamental misunderstanding of not only how military operations and the chain of command operate, but how it operated specifically with the raid to capture or kill Osama bin Laden.

At the time, Admiral McRaven was the head of joint -- or, I'm sorry, Joint Special Operations Command. He and his special operators were tasked with the mission to go into the compound in Pakistan. That order was given by the president. The decision of when to go after bin Laden, how to go after bin Laden, was made by the president of the United States as commander in chief in consultation with his national security staff. That's very well understood. So Admiral McRaven had no real say over when he was going to conduct

this operation. He followed orders. And, as he's pointed out rightfully, whether the occupant of the White House is a Republican or a Democrat, he'll follow all lawful orders that he's given.

SCIUTTO: Do you believe the president simply doesn't understand that's the way this works? Or doesn't care? Doesn't care that when someone takes aim at him, whether it's Admiral McRaven, John McCain or Robert Mueller, that he will come after them regardless of their military service?

[09:40:05] LAPAN: Well, it's hard for me to understand what's in the president's head, like many people. I don't know if he doesn't understand or if he doesn't care. But I've also said recently that it seems like the president, through a number of the actions and words, show that he hasn't really come to a good understanding of how the military operates.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this then. You're a retired Marine. You served for a long time, decades in the military. You speak to a lot of folks, current and former in the military. The president's comments about McRaven, supremely admired commander for many years, some of the toughest operations. John McCain, of course, decorated. Robert Mueller, decorated. Khizr Khan, a father of a Muslim soldier who lost his life.

Is the president alienating members of the military by these public attacks on these men and women in uniform?

LAPAN: I think he certainly is. And as I alluded to, it goes beyond just the words but some of the actions. Some of the ways that he has talked about using the military are a disappointment to people in uniform, and show again their allegiance is going to be to the constitution of the United States. That's the oath that we all swear. Not to the occupant of the White House. So they'll continue to follow lawful orders.

But I do think a number of service members and veterans that I speak with are disappointed with the president, both in word and in action.

BERMAN: Let me ask you this. And this -- this is a big picture question here. But for someone like yourself, who served through so many years, difficult years, 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. When a president, who is, of course, the commander in chief, makes derogatory comments like this, about people who have earned better clearly, does it matter in your view?

LAPAN: It doesn't matter, again, in the big picture, like I said, and that's why I chose to use the word disappointment. I think there are people in the military and veterans who would be disappointed with the president's comment. But, in the end, it doesn't matter. As long as the president, again, if his actions are lawful, then the command authority vested in him as the commander in chief, the military will carry out those orders regardless of those words.

The other thing I'd like to say is that -- SCIUTTO: But, wait, I'm just surprised to say -- you say it doesn't

matter to folks who have risked their lives to be so publicly undermined and disrespected by the commander in chief. It doesn't affect morale?

LAPAN: Again, it may affect morale. It depends on somebody's own personal views. I think a lot of people would be upset at seeing Admiral McRaven treated that way by the president. And Senator McCain, certainly, and some of the others. But, at the end of the day, again, from a big picture perspective, they're going to carry out the orders.

But along those lines, I'd say that, you know, this may be news to the president, but not everybody who's in the military today voted for Donald Trump to be the president, but regardless of whether they voted for him or for Secretary Clinton or they didn't vote at all, they'll still carry out the duties, because that's what's expected of them in our system.

SCIUTTO: All right. And they've certainly shown -- shown that throughout many years and the toughest and longest wars.

Dave Lapan, thanks very much.

LAPAN: Thanks, Jim.

HARLOW: All right, so the battle lines are drawn between Nancy Pelosi supporters and several newly elected Democrats who promised not to support her for House speaker. Will they keep that promise and perhaps an even bigger predicament this morning for those who oppose her, is anyone going to challenge Pelosi?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:48:20] HARLOW: All right, welcome back.

The battle is growing this morning over who will lead the freshly empowered House Democrats. New York Congresswoman Kathleen Rice argues in a new "Washington Post" op-ed, the Democrats owe it to their voters to replace Nancy Pelosi. Here's part of what she wrote this morning. As Democrats look back at how we won our new House majority, let's not forgot what got us here, a promise of change, of focus on the future, inspiring those who have grown sick of the status quo and are desperate for leadership. The question, though, who will come forward to officially challenge Nancy Pelosi. This morning, she has no official challenger.

Joining me now, Democratic Congresswoman-elect Jennifer Wexton of Virginia. She won Virginia's 10th district after nearly four decades of Republican control. A lot of it was done by tying her opponent, Barbara Comstock, to President Trump.

Good morning to you. Congratulations on the win. Hope you're getting a little more sleep as you head into what will be a very, very busy new job for you. So thanks for joining us.

JENNIFER WEXTON (D), VIRGINIA CONGRESS-ELECT: Good morning. Thank you. HARLOW: Good morning.

Over the weekend, "The New York Times" highlighted what was interesting, a non-partisan study by a group More In Common. And what it showed was that two-thirds of those surveyed are called the exhausted majority, in terms of the fact that they're exhausted by the division in Washington.

Should the American people truly expect more bipartisanship come January?

WEXTON: Absolutely. I mean that's what the voters told us on Election Day this year. That's what I heard time and time again on the campaign trail and from my colleagues. My new colleagues in the House, they heard the same thing on the Republican side and on the Democratic side. People are sick of the gridlock. They're sick of the partisan battles. They want Congress to work again and find solutions for the people.

HARLOW: Sure. So that begs the question, what are you, congresswoman- elect, willing to give? Border wall funding? Will you give the president, the Republicans, something to get a little?

[09:50:07] WEXTON: I think we need to sit down and work together and find solutions and find consensus. I mean I don't want to commit ourselves to swapping one thing for another and having to do this, but --

HARLOW: Forgive me if I've heard that before, right? I mean, really, like what are you willing to give?

WEXTON: You know, there's a lot of different issues. You know, we want to do something on infrastructure. We need infrastructure, not just roads and bridges, but things like rural broadband in my district and others.

HARLOW: Yes.

WEXTON: We need to deliver results on health care. We need to do something about prescription drug prices. We need to do something about gun violence prevention. So these are areas where there's room for compromise, but we need to sit down and actually work to find those solutions.

HARLOW: Yes.

Let's see if we can get it.

Let's talk about the leader -- leadership in the House, and if it's going to be Nancy Pelosi or not. Just a few days ago, on the 14th of November, you told "The Washington Post" that you will support her as House speaker, but on November 9th you told my colleague Kate Bolduan, I still need to know who the candidates are that are running. I'm looking forward to having them give me their elevator speeches or pitches. So we still don't know who may be running. What changed your mind? WEXTON: Well, that's part of it is nobody has stepped up to run. And

we're running out of time. We're going to have to make those elections at the end of next week. And we've got a lot of work to do. You said it yourself. We need to be able to hit the ground running on day one, on January 3rd.

HARLOW: Yes.

So Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, also incoming in the freshman class here of your state, Virginia, said, quote, there's an effectiveness that comes with being a fresh voice that I think is important. Does she have a point when it comes to leadership?

WEXTON: There are many leadership positions that our caucus will be voting on. And there are a number of new people who are going to be running for those positions. So leadership doesn't start and end with speaker.

HARLOW: Is it too white and too old, leadership, and too male, overall, other than Pelosi?

WEXTON: I think there are a number of folks that represent various areas of our caucus. And there will be more because there's going to be new leadership and new people running for things.

HARLOW: Let's talk about Medicare for all because health care is going to be a key thing. You know, it was the number one issue for voters, for Democrats in the midterms.

You have said that you're not sure the country is ready for a Medicare for all system. And the question you keep asking yourself is, quote, how are we going to pay for it?

Are you concerned that your fellow incoming Democrats, like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, or others who support it, do not have a good enough answer when it comes to how will you pay for it without raising taxes?

WEXTON: Well, that's the question. You know, we -- it would be an expensive proposition. I don't think the country's ready for it. I don't think our system is, you know, prepared for that kind of an influx at this time. So that's a question you'd have to ask some of the new coming -- incoming freshmen who support that option.

HARLOW: But -- and we do. And we ask for answers. But you don't think it can be paid for without raising taxes it sounds like, right?

WEXTON: At this time, I don't see a way to do it.

HARLOW: OK.

Let me ask you about funding the government.

There are Democrats, even in leadership, who have said that they're willing to hold up funding the government by the end of the year if it does not include legislation that would protect the special counsel, Bob Mueller. Again, you said on this network just a few days ago, that you're not in favor of that. Do you think your fellow Democrats who are, are misguided? And, if so, why?

WEXTON: I don't -- I wouldn't say they're misguided, but I would say that I don't think that that's a productive way to start our tenure in Congress. You know, my district in particular, because it starts just outside of Washington, D.C., has a very large proportion of federal workers, and not just federal workers, but the contractors who support them. And I still remember 2013 and what that did to my constituents and what effect that had on our local economy. You know, using federal workers as a bargaining chip for political purposes, I don't think is good for the right to do it. I don't think it's good for the left to do it.

CAMEROTA: All right. Congratulations on the win. We'll see you soon. Thanks for joining us.

WEXTON: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: A fascinating interview there. One of the new faces in Congress.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Coming up, after months of negotiations, Robert Mueller is about to get what he wants, answers, at least written ones, from President Trump. Just don't expect the two men to meet face-to-face. We're following it all.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:59:00] SCIUTTO: This morning, Brenda Snipes, the embattled supervisor of elections for Broward County, Florida, has resigned. Snipes, of course, came under heavy criticism for problems with vote counting in the heavily Democratic Broward County.

HARLOW: So this is a significant development. She sent this resignation letter to Florida Governor Rick Scott on Sunday, asking for her last day to be January 4th. She has spent 15 years as Broward County's election supervisor.

Good morning, everyone. Top of the hour. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. It's Monday, in case you haven't noticed. Any time now, President Trump plans to turn in his written answers, his take-home test, to Robert Mueller's questions on collusion in the 2016 campaign. And after that he says, quote, we're finished, probably. The chances of a sit-down face-to-face interview with the special counsel, which the president promised a number of times over the last couple years, now seems more remote than ever.

[09:59:59] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": Is that your final position, that there's going to be no sit-down interview and nothing, written or in person, on obstruction?