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President Trump Addressed Reporters In Wide-Ranging And Impromptu Q&A At The White House; President Trump Sounding Off About Negotiations Set To Get Underway In Showdown With China Over Trade; Facebook Co-Founder Says It Is Time To Break Up Facebook. Aired 2- 2:30p ET
Aired May 9, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me.
After days blocking subpoenas and rejecting information requests, President Trump just addressed reporters in this wide ranging and impromptu Q&A at the White House this afternoon, and the President discussed everything from his National Security adviser, John Bolton to North Korea to even calling the Mueller report which he called a witch hunt for months, months, and months referred to it as the Bible.
And the President also responded to the first ever congressional subpoena of one of his family members. Sources say about the time the redacted version of the Mueller report went public, the Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Donald Trump, Jr.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was very surprised. I saw Richard Burr saying there was no collusion two or three weeks ago, he went outside and somebody asked him, "No, there's no collusion. We found no collusion." But I was very surprised to see my son -- my son is a very good person. He works very hard. The last thing he needs is Washington, DC.
He has now testified for 20 hours or something -- a massive amount of time. The Mueller report came out. That's the Bible. The Mueller report came out, and they said he did nothing wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: A source close to Don, Jr. told CNN quote, "Don continues to cooperate by producing documents and is willing to answer written questions, but no lawyer would ever agree to allow their clients to participate in what is an obvious PR stunt from a so-called republican senator too cowardly to stand up to his boss, Mark Warner and the rest of the resistance Democrats on the committee."
We will come back to that. The chairman of the Senate Intel Committee, by the way is Republican, Richard Burr, who is not running for reelection.
CNN senior political analyst, John Avlon is here with me. There was a heck of a lot to go through. But let's start with this Senate Intel Committee subpoena of Don, Jr.
So, just as you know, the President himself had said the Mueller report exonerated him, which it didn't. He is now saying that his son has been exonerated and he is surprised by the subpoena. I'm not quite sure if he's going to fight it though. What did you think of that?
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: What was striking to me is the letter on behalf of Don, Jr. calling Richard Burr a "so-called Republican."
AVLON: "Unwilling to stand up to his boss, Mark Warner." Burr is a Republican in quite good standing. He is the Chairman of the committee. They've been operating in pretty bipartisan fashion, something unusual in Washington. But this is this tendency right now in this party to call out anyone who breaks ranks with fealty to the Trump family as a heretic.
It's an insult to Burr. It's an insult to the independence of the Senate. Clearly, they said written questions may be okay, so we're back to that game. But they've been calling witnesses back. They want to get it right. And they've had their own investigation going on for a while. Trump can't seem to make up his mind. Is this the Bible or a witch hunt? It can't be both.
BALDWIN: Richard Burr, Republican was an adviser -- just reminding everyone -- to the Trump campaign. He said in March that the Senate Intel investigation into Russia would end in the coming months. So what do you think this subpoena is about? Tying up loose ends? Or something else?
AVLON: They're calling some witnesses back. It appears to be tying up loose ends, perhaps inconsistencies. Remember, you know, the House Intel Committee and the Senate have tried to have their own purview, do their own investigation. They have more limited resources than the Mueller report, but in some cases, a broader purview. The House we know is looking into the money trail.
AVLON: The Senate really has been focusing on questions of hacking and Russian influence. I would be shocked if they came to a different conclusion in the Mueller report, but they've got their own process, their own fact patterns, and let's see if they dig deeper in a couple of areas. And, you know, presumably the report won't be redacted.
BALDWIN: Let me play another clip from the President this afternoon. This is what the President just said about the Special Counsel himself, Robert Mueller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: So after spending all that money, all of that time, two years, they come up with a report and Bob Mueller is no friend of mine, I had conflicts with him. We had a business dispute. We had somebody that is in love with James Comey. He liked James Comey, they were very good friends.
[14:05:10] TRUMP: Supposedly best friends, maybe not. But supposedly best friends. You look at the picture file and you see hundreds of pictures of him and Comey.
And with all of that and other things, he wanted the FBI job. I don't know if anybody knows that. But as you know, he was considered for the FBI job, he wanted it. And the day after he didn't get it, he became the Special Counsel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: That's a lot for the guy who wrote the Bible for the President.
AVLON: Yes. You know, I'm just saying it's either -- it's Bible as written by 13 angry Democrats about somebody led by a guy who loves James Comey. It's a very peculiar version of the Holy Book.
BALDWIN: John Avlon. Thank you very much. Well done. President Trump also sounding off about last minute negotiations set to get underway about three hours from now in this whole showdown with China over trade.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The Vice Premier is coming here today. We were getting very close to a deal, then they started to renegotiate the deal. We can't have that. We can't have that.
A large group -- a delegation -- headed by one of the most respected men and highest officials of China will be coming in today. They started five o'clock and they'll see what they can do.
I did get last night a very beautiful letter from President Xi. Let's work together. Let's see if we can get something done. But they renegotiated the deal. I mean, they took -- whether it is intellectual property theft, they took many, many parts of that deal, and they renegotiated it, you can't do that.
And I'm different than a lot of people. I happen to think that tariffs for a country are very powerful, you know, we're the piggy bank that everybody steals from, including China.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Richard Quest is our CNN Business editor-at-large. And so Richard, so he gets this big, beautiful letter from Xi last night. And yes, the President also said he has no idea what's going to happen. Is this all drama negotiating?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: I think it is because I think most people believe that there is a deal, and it will be done. It is merely at what price? I think for the President, it's a very risky part now because what he keeps saying is, he is happy with tariffs, hundred billion dollars' worth of tariffs. He is happy with tariffs. It's money coming into the U.S. Treasury, and he is right, except it is U.S. consumers and U.S. businesses that are paying that money, and it is U.S. exporters that are suffering the other way around.
So yes, the government gets more, but it's at whose cost? Where the President's biggest risk is if there's no deal, because if there's no deal, then it calls into question this whole deal making ability of the President.
One point though Brooke, on his determination to remain firm in these negotiations that is being widely, widely praised. People may not like his methods, in terms of using tariffs, but everybody is -- at least on the U.S. side and the E.U. side -- is praising the fact he is standing firm.
BALDWIN: Well, he was also standing there praising himself for standing firm and sending out that statement in the tweets on the tariffs because he essentially was saying, "Hey, they're here, and they're here early in DC, you know, to meet with me." We know they're meeting at five o'clock tonight. Do you think that that is a step in the right direction for these two countries?
QUEST: Yes, so the talks would have taken place eventually, anyway. You don't pressure the Chinese like this. It's a vast country with huge resources, and a strong -- not as strong as the U.S. economy. So you know, they were coming anyway. It's just a matter of time and when.
And look at the market. Now, look, the market falls very sharply. I think the market is slowly growing up to the prospects that the President's tweets when it comes to China has a nasty bit of indigestion but the market recovers. We saw it yesterday. We closed up just a couple of points to the drift.
Today, again, we're coming back quite sharply. There is fragility. There is uncertainty and the President frankly, doesn't make it any better with many of his comments.
BALDWIN: Richard Quest, thank you. And make sure to tune in tonight here at CNN, former FBI Director James Comey in an AC360 Town Hall live from Washington, DC, moderated by Anderson Cooper tonight at eight o'clock Eastern right here on CNN.
So let's recap, Don, Jr. China, the President didn't stop there. He also made strong accusations against John Kerry accusing him of breaking the law.
Plus, the President responded to North Korea's new tests and the U.S. announces it seized one of North Korea's cargo ships. So much more to talk about. Stay right here. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [14:14:46] BALDWIN: We are back with some breaking news now. The United States has seized a North Korean cargo ship alleging sanctions violations by the country. This is coming to us from the Justice Department. The seizure is likely to heightened tensions between the two nations at a time when U.S. efforts to dissuade North Korea from pursuing its nuclear weapons program have stalled following the failure of that Hanoi Summit back in February.
And this news today comes on the heels of President Trump totally unscripted at the White House and sounding off on a multitude of topics, including Iran going as far as to say former Secretary of State John Kerry should be prosecuted for talking to Iran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We have one of the most powerful ships in the world that's loaded up and we don't want to have to do anything. What I'd like to see with Iran, I'd like to see them call me. You know, John Kerry speaks to them a lot.
John Kerry tells them not to call. That's a violation of the Logan Act. And frankly, he should be prosecuted on that. But my people don't want to do anything that's -- only the Democrats do that kind of stuff. You know, if it were the opposite way they'd prosecute him under the Logan Act.
But John Kerry violated the Logan Act. He is talking to Iran and has been. He has many meetings and many phone calls and he is telling them what to do. That is a total violation of the Logan Act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let's talk about this. With me now retired Rear Admiral John Kirby, former State Department spokesman, CNN military and diplomatic analyst and admiral, you know, we'll get into Secretary Kerry's response to all of this in just a second. But when you listen to the President, say what he did, what is he getting at when he says Secretary Kerry should be prosecuted under the Logan Act?
JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: The Logan Act goes way back to the early -- the late 1790s. And it's a law that basically prohibits private American citizens from conducting alternative negotiations with foreign governments. So the idea is to keep the execution of foreign policy with the Executive Branch in the government as it's supposed to be.
Only two people have ever been indicted under the Logan Act; one in 1802 and the other one in 1852 and neither were ever convicted of those charges, so it's a rarely executed law at all. And, of course, in this case, it's just a ridiculous claim.
BALDWIN: On your point of the ridiculousness. Kerry's spokesperson says, "Everything President Trump said today is simply wrong. End of story." So the President is just standing up there and he is totally wrong. KIRBY: He is. He is just -- it would be laughable if it wasn't coming from the Commander-in-Chief of the United States of America. Look, Secretary Kerry, like every other living former Secretary of State maintains relationships with his counterparts around the world. He did this even when he was before he was Secretary of State as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He has got valuable relationships that frankly, Brooke, this administration, and any administration should want him to have, wants him to have these kinds of conversations.
And he has kept in touch with counterparts and sometimes he has -- and he has had I think three or four conversations with Foreign Minister Zarif since he left office. It's important to note that he also told Secretary Pompeo about those conversations, those were conversations that were had before the Trump administration decided to make the final decision to pull out of the Iran deal. And he advised Secretary Pompeo about those conversations.
So the idea that he is having illegal meetings, just wrong. The idea that it's even improper for him to speak to his foreign counterparts is also not only wrong, but I think potentially dangerous for our foreign policy future.
BALDWIN: Makes diplomatic sense to keep the channels open.
BALDWIN: Admiral Kirby. Thank you, sir.
KIRBY: My pleasure.
BALDWIN: Facebook now responding to one of its cofounders making a huge statement today saying the company should be broken up. We have more on that. Plus, in two weeks, two students die jumping in front of bullets to save their classmates and now disturbing new details about a warning the Colorado District received a day before that deadly shooting.
[14:23:10] BALDWIN: Just days after horror unfolded in yet another school in America, CNN has learned of a frightening warning issued by the district months before Tuesday's shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch.
In a letter obtained by CNN, a district official urged the school's administration to investigate allegations of violence, sexual assaults and campus bullying reported by an anonymous parent who feared this could lead to a quote unquote "repeat of Columbine."
In December, Douglas County School District official, Daniel Winsor wrote in part, "The concerns expressed by this individual are very serious and needs to be looked into the extent possible. Please keep the district apprised of your investigations and conclusions," but two months later, in a letter to parents, Penelope Eucker, the STEM Director -- the Executive Director of STEM, I should say disputed many of the anonymous parent's claim of campus problems going as far as calling it an attack, saying in part, "We want you to know the depth of this depravity and apologize if you find this as offensive as we did."
She wrote that the district had gone so far as to file a lawsuit against Jane Doe for spreading what they call defamatory statements about the school. Eucker and Winsor could not be immediately reached for comment and CNN has not been able to verify the parent's allegations including an alleged bomb threat with law enforcement.
Chris Hughes helped Mark Zuckerberg build the biggest social network in the world. And now the Facebook cofounder, the one who actually developed your newsfeed says the social network has become too powerful and needs to be broken apart.
In a scathing "New York Times" opinion piece today, Hughes takes direct aim at Zuckerberg and the site he helped create calling Facebook dangerous and a monopoly. In "The Times," he writes, "I'm disappointed in myself and the early Facebook team for not thinking more about how the newsfeed algorithm could change our culture, influence elections and empower nationalist leaders and I'm worried that Mark has surrounded himself with a team that reinforces his beliefs instead of challenging them."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[14:25:13] CHRIS HUGHES, CO-FOUNDER, FACEBOOK: The reason I'm speaking out is because I think Facebook has become too big, too powerful. He is extremely powerful because he has no boss, because there's been -- there's no regulatory agency from the Federal government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Brian Fung is our CNN tech reporter and new addition to the CNN family.
So Brian, welcome. Good to have you here. This opinion piece, it's stunning. I mean, these guys built Facebook together. And we've heard some of Hughes argument for why he is doing this. But tell me how he expects this to happen. What does a breakup look like? Because this also includes now Instagram and WhatsApp.
BRIAN FUNG, CNN TECH REPORTER: Right. So there are two basic pieces of this one, Hughes really wants the Federal Trade Commission, which has recently set up a task force to look at past mergers, to really go after and scrutinize Facebook's acquisitions of companies like Instagram and WhatsApp.
Now, that task force hasn't come out and said, we're going to look at Facebook, but they have said that they're very interested in reviewing previous mergers involving tech companies.
And the second piece of this has to do with what accusers call for a separate regulatory agency that's just designed to look at tech companies and oversee their behavior. Obviously, it would take a lot for this to come to fruition. But that's the direction that Hughes is going in.
BALDWIN: Here's what Facebook has to say. "Facebook accepts that, with success comes accountability. But you don't enforce accountability by calling for the breakup of a successful American company. Accountability of tech companies can only be achieved through the painstaking introduction of new rules for the internet. And that is exactly what Mark Zuckerberg has called for."
We know Zuckerberg is already under investigation by the FTC over privacy issues. How much more trouble could this mean for him?
FUNG: Well, it's important to set out that what the FTC is looking at here is an alleged violation of an agreement that Facebook previously had with the FTC.
If we're talking about a breakup of the company that would require probably a separate antitrust proceeding that's not included -- that probably won't be addressed in any settlement between the FTC and Facebook as part of the ongoing investigation.
BALDWIN: And for Hughes to come out and speak out this morning on national television and write this opinion piece, do you know what his relationship has been like with Mark Zuckerberg? I mean, we know they were roommates at Harvard. Are they even still friends?
FUNG: Well, I think on that front as to their personal relationship, the record is pretty thin. But in his op-ed, Hughes did point out that the last time the two men spoke was in 2017, when Hughes went to Zuckerberg's home and you know, they spoke about politics and about Facebook before Hughes then then took off after a couple of hours.
It all seems as Hughes lays out in his op-ed, a pretty cordial relationship. But unfortunately, we don't have much more on exactly the dynamic between those two men.
BALDWIN: All right, Brian Fung. Thank you so much, and I should also note Chris Hughes will join CNN tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m. Eastern. Appreciate it.
A rift developing between members of the Kennedy family, why some are publicly upset with RFK, Jr. and his stance on vaccines. And a stunning video of what was found during a raid of one mansion. Have you seen this? Including more than a thousand weapons. We'll be right back.