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Trump on Mueller Testimony; Trump Junior Subpoenaed; World is Testing Trump. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired May 9, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:14] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar, live from CNN's Washington headquarters.
Underway right now, we begin with an impromptu wide-ranging Q&A with the president weighing in on trade negotiations with China and those new tariffs that he's threatened to enforce, nuclear talks with North Korea and the brand-new missile test and, of course, the Russia investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So after spending all of that money, all of that time, two years, they come up with a report. And Bob Mueller's 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. Supposedly best friends, Maybe not, but supposedly best friends. You look at the picture file and you see hundreds of pictures and 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, wanted it, and the day after he didn't get it, he became the special counsel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: CNN White House correspondent Abby Phillip is live at the White House.
Abby, what was the original purpose of this appearance, and was the president expected to take so many questions or weigh in on so many of these issues?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, this was supposed to be an event about medical billing. This is a topic the White House wants to put on the agenda. They want to be proactive about this issue.
But, instead, as we all saw in the last hour, it was sort of like taking a bottle of soda and shaking it up, and the result is the president really coming out with all of this information about how he feels about a slew of different issues that have been on his plate. Just yesterday the White House had closed an event with him that would
have been an opportunity for him to weigh in on some key issues, like the assertion of executive privilege when it came to the full Mueller report, among other things, his tax returns. They didn't want the president to talk to the press at that time. He didn't talk to the press as he left for a rally in Florida.
But then today he went over that and all kinds of other issues, talking about Iran, for example, where tensions are rising between the U.S. and Iran, saying that he wants them to call him, to come to the negotiation table, even accusing former Secretary of State John Kerry of violating the law, saying he should be prosecuted for having backchannel talks with Iran. The president saying that Kerry is standing in the way of Iran coming to the table.
He talked China, where there are negotiations ongoing over tariffs. He talked about North Korea, where the North Koreans are clearly trying to -- to say to the United States that they want a different kind of negotiation situation with the U.S. They are firing off missiles, and the president saying to North Korea that he believes that they can continue to negotiate positively.
And then he talked about his son Don Junior, who has been subpoenaed by the Senate Intelligence Committee. The president saying he was actually surprised by that. Take a listen to his response to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, 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's a very good person, works very hard. The last thing he needs is Washington, D.C. I think he'd rather not ever be involved. Remember, he said to me, long time ago when I was thinking about running, dad, if I can help, let me know. It's not my expertise, it's not something I really like, but whatever I can do, you're my father, whatever I can do. He's 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. The only thing is, it's oppo research.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: Well, the president there claiming that the Mueller report exonerated his son. But you can clearly see that he is frustrated by this, bothered by it and even potentially worried about what this means for his -- his child, his children, who he's tried to keep out of all of this.
And this is all coming as we, you know, have reporting from our Kaitlan Collins saying that the president's inner circles believes that the Republican chairman of that committee, Chairman Burr, has really opened the door for Democrats to continue this conversation about the Mueller investigation. They are frustrated by this because this isn't coming from a Democratic-led committee in the House. It's coming from a Republican-led committee in the Senate. And I think you can see in the president's comments there that he is, you know, disappointed that his son I is now apparently being dragged back before a Senate committee and being forced to testify potentially on these very issues of the Mueller report, which he continues to call, you know, unfair and a witch hunt.
[13:05:09] KEILAR: And you said potential there, Abby, because the president was asked about whether his son might fight this subpoena and the president wouldn't say. He said, well, we'll see what happens.
PHILLIP: Yes. I mean I think he left that door open. And just give -- given all of the ways in which this administration has pushed back on congressional subpoenas, they've pushed back on demands for documents and testimony. You know, there's a real open question about whether or not they are going to push back on this one. And if they do, on what grounds? I -- you know, I think that is also something for the lawyers to deliberate over.
But the president clearly couldn't say that he's going to comply with the subpoena. And so this is going to be a major, major question as we go forward given just this week the president, for the first time in his administration, indicating that he's likely to assert executive privilege over the full, un-redacted Mueller report. They want to fight this. They believe that, in his words, actually he said this today, he called it a Democratic attempt to have a do-over of the Mueller investigation.
So he's not inclined to allow these kinds of inquiries to go forward, but the question remains, as with all of this, on what legal basis? And even if there isn't perhaps a legal basis, are they going to try to delay this for as long as possible?
KEILAR: I know what betting folks would -- what bet they would take on that.
Abby Phillip, thank you so much, at the White House.
A question to you, Renato Mariotti, what basis would Donald Junior have to push back as his father, the president, leaves open this possibility that he may fight the subpoena?
RENATO MARIOTTI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Purely on a legal basis, his safest way out would just be to take the fifth. But I think politically he doesn't want to do that. And what we're really seeing now is a lot of pressure being put on the Senate chairman to essentially take some -- either withdraw the subpoena or to indicate that he's not really going to seek enforcement, not going to hold him in contempt so that this way Trump Junior can ignore the subpoena and then, you know, realize that there's not going to be any consequences for it. That's what I think is going on right now. KEILAR: What -- what do you think the chances of that, Julie, of
Richard Burr, at this point now, a Republican being the first person to subpoena a member of the Trump family, withdrawing that subpoena? Do you see that as happening?
JULIE HIRSCHFIELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't see it as very likely. I mean this was a pretty substantial step for him to decide to take. But, clearly, he felt that, you know, there were grounds that the wanted to -- that -- that the committee needed to hear from Donald Trump Junior and needed to hear from him badly enough that it was with it to issue a subpoena. It's a pretty extraordinary step. But, obviously, there -- we've seen the similar action happening on the House side. But that's -- again, that's by Democrats. So the fact that the Republican chairman would take this step I think tells you that he feels that there's a pretty substantial issue here that they -- that they -- the committee needs to hear from him.
So I wouldn't expect him to back off, but I do wonder whether Renato isn't -- isn't right about the fact that perhaps the subpoena will kind of lie out there for a while and he won't take the kind of depressive steps that House Democrats have indicated they are willing to take to enforce the subpoenas. But I think that's going to be an active debate in the Senate right now.
KEILAR: Either way, even if it does hang out there, the worry of the president -- and you heard he's very -- he's unhappy. He's surprised by this. He believes that this gives Democrats a talking point, which it does, whether it lies out there or not. The politics of there are very difficult for the president.
DAVIS: The politics of this are very difficult for the president. And as you heard in that -- in that 45-minute impromptu news conference, he's kind of saying two things here. You heard him say his son has been exonerated. He said -- the president has said he himself has been exonerated by the Mueller report. But here you have, you know, aggressive moves to say, we are not going to comply with subpoenas. We are not going to allow the report to come out. He called it, I think, a beautiful report during that -- during that avail with reporters just now. But if it's so beautiful, why is it that they're not -- that he's not allowing it to come forward. So I think that's a difficult, political spot for him to be in. If they don't have anything to hide, if he feel like this report is so great and all the underlying information that they got from Donald Junior and from others was fine, why not allow them to talk to Congress.
KEILAR: And why smear, essentially, Robert Mueller, the author of the report, basically saying he's sour grapes because he wasn't appointed FBI director after James Comey. That was a -- just an odd thing that he said.
But the president talked about a lot of things. He talked about China as well. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The vice premier, one of the most respected men, one of the highest officials in China, is coming. You know, you heard he wasn't coming. He's coming.
QUESTION: Are you going to meet with him?
TRUMP: I will say this, once the tariffs went on them, they upped the meeting. It was supposed to take place originally on Thursday. Then about five weeks ago they said, how about Friday, how about next week? I said, what's this all about? And I said, that's, OK, let's -- don't worry about it. Let take in $100 billion a year. And we put the tariffs on. We made the statement, and then they upped the meeting. How about -- let's go back to Thursday. So I have no idea what's going to happen.
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 renegotiate the deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[13:10:03] KEILAR: He's playing hardball here, Alex Marquardt, or he's -- he's trying to portray himself as playing hardball with China. But the reality is, these tariffs, set to kick in, will have drastic consequences for business owners -- we've had them on our show talking about this -- and also consumers.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we'll feel it. It is the American consumer, it is the American buyer who will actually feel these tariffs. And the question really is, where did this come from? And it looks like the trade deal was proceeding apace, that the negotiations were going well, that the meeting that was set to take place with the vice premier, as the president just said, was supposed to essentially be the final round. And then, over the weekend, we saw the president come out with these -- this aggressive set of tweets. And what it really reveals is that the president feels that he is negotiating from a position of strength. That he looks at the U.S. economy and says that -- that he will have the support of the American people. This is -- he is coming from a position of strength.
The thing is, the Chinese feel the same way. So does this all collapse? We saw, as the markets opened on Monday, that there were some serious jitters to say the least, the markets plummeted, because, you know, smart investors and experts around the world believed that we were on the cusp of some sort of trade deal. And now, as the president said, he doesn't know what's going to happen.
KEILAR: And the president is very much being tested on the world stage, not just when it comes to China, but also when it comes to Iran. And he talked about that. In fact, he actually talked about the former secretary of state, John Kerry, who he says he believes is breaking the law. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: What did Iran do to prompted you to send an aircraft carrier to the region?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, they were threatening. And we have information --
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) --
TRUMP: we have information that you don't want to know about. They were very threatening. And we just want to have -- we have to have great security for this country and for a lot of other places.
QUESTION: Is there a risk of military confrontation, sir?
TRUMP: I guess you could say that always, right, isn't it? I mean, you know, always. I don't want to say no. But hopefully that won't happen. 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, he 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's talking to Iran and has been. Has many meetings and many phone calls and he's telling them what to do. That is a total violation of the Logan Act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: All right, that allegation doesn't even smell mildly correct. So fact check this for us.
MARQUARDT: Well, I mean, the president is saying in no uncertain terms that John Kerry, in fact, is breaking the law. And what Kerry will -- has been doing essentially is what he says is what every other secretary of state after leaving office has done before him, that is maintaining ties with their former counterparts around the world. John Kerry makes no bones about the fact that the does maintain ties to various foreign ministers and other world leaders, including Javad Zarif, the foreign minister of Iran.
And, in fact, we have a statement from a Kerry spokesman saying, let's cut through the distraction and talk about real facts. Secretary Kerry stays in touch with his former counterparts around the world, just like every other previous secretary of state. And in a long phone conversation with Secretary Pompeo earlier this year, he went into great detail about what he learned about the Iranians' view. No secrets were kept from this administration.
So the president making this allegation. The Kerry folks, of course, denying it, saying this is just, you know, business as usual. This is what former diplomats do, they maintain those ties.
KEILAR: All right, stand by, everyone. We have a lot more to talk about, including the president's response to North Korea launching projectiles as the world seems to be testing the president.
Plus, in two weeks, two students die jumping in front of bullets to save their classmates. Now, disturbing new details that we're learning about a warning that the Colorado School District received before the deadly shooting.
[13:18:58] KEILAR: We have more on our breaking news and the president's impromptu news conference.
The pressure is on to strike a deal between the U.S. and China. And right now stocks are on quite a wild ride ahead of a high-stake negotiation between the world's two largest economies.
Talks suddenly turned sour this week and that rattled the market. And now we are just hours away from President Trump's latest tariff threat taking effect. This is just one battle on the world stage that the president is facing. North Korea is pushing the limits and apparently launching two more short range missiles. President Trump is growing frustrated with his own advisers on the path forward with Venezuela. And tensions are flaring with Iran over new sanctions and Iran's partial withdrawal from the global nuclear deal.
Amy Pope is with us now. She was the former deputy Homeland Security adviser under President Obama.
And, Amy, we just heard from the president on all of these topics. What is going on here as you look at president being tested? Is there a sense, from your perspective, that these leaders may feel emboldened right now, kind of across the board?
[13:20:02] AMY POPE, FORMER DEPUTY HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER UNDER OBAMA: It looks that way. And one of the reasons is that the president is clearly not speaking with the same voice as his key advisers. The very public rift between the president and his national security adviser is one very damaging example of that. But we've seen it throughout this administration. Time and time again his -- whether it's his secretary of state, secretary of defense, national security adviser, people will go forward with his message and then he contradicts it. So that suggests that the people speaking for him don't have his authority and that undermines the power and position of the United States.
KEILAR: Yes, I mean, he said about John Bolton, he said that he tempers John Bolton. And he had some specific words for him there.
I do want to listen to something the president said when he weighed in about North Korea. Let's listen
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody's happy about it. But we're taking a good look and we'll see. We'll see. The relationship continues, but we'll see what happens. I know they want to negotiate. They're talking about negotiating. But I don't think they're ready to negotiate.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KEILAR: So he's downplaying the possibility of some sort of breakthrough there. What do you make of that, Amy?
POPE: Well, I think that's the right answer. What appears to be happening is North Korea is testing the United States, trying to push them towards some sort of negotiation, reopening the talks. The president is right not to kowtow to that and to accept that as an appropriate way of negotiating. But at the same time, there's a more serious question by undergirds all of this, which is, what is the president's strategy in North Korea? What is the diplomatic negotiation going into it behind the scenes? We saw that very publically break down the last time the president was in talks with the North Koreans. And I think the North Koreans are trying to capitalize and exploit that at this moment in time.
KEILAR: I want to bring our Kylie Atwood into this conversation. She's been covering the North Korea story and all of the ins and outs.
And, Kylie, when you see the president saying this and downplaying these expectations, what brought us to this point where he's pouring some cold water on moving forward?
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, they've had no progress since the Hanoi summit, right? I mean we saw just yesterday that the U.S. said that they are going to be suspending their efforts with the North Koreans to look for American war remains. That was the first thing that the Trump administration heralded as a joint effort that the two were working on together. Now they're not getting any answers from the North Koreans. They can no longer do that.
We also heard Pompeo, just a few days ago, say that he doesn't think that the North Koreans are necessarily telling the truth, that they are being forthright in these negotiations. And that comes after President Trump has repeatedly said that he trusts Kim Jong-un and he thinks things are going well. So we are seeing a number of signs here. And the president is putting a very clear point on it now saying they may not actually be ready to negotiate even though the Trump administration and Trump himself really thought that they were.
KEILAR: And -- so where -- where does it move on from here?
ATWOOD: Well, that's the question. I mean, is there going to be another summit or is there not. So, Secretary Pompeo said that he was not sure if there would be one over the summer. Now, obviously, however, the White House would like another summit because it looks good. It puts President Trump on the world stage doing something that no other president has been able to do with North Korea, of course, and especially ahead of 2020 it would be helpful.
But if they can't accomplish anything, they don't want to walk out looking extremely lame and like they haven't been able to push the ball forward anymore. So maybe both sides are going to dial it back. We have to see how North Korea responds and how other actors like Russia, who is now meeting with Kim Jong-un, get more involved, and if they have any impact.
KEILAR: Yes, a summit to what end?
Kylie Atwood, thank you so much. Amy Pope, really appreciate your perspective as well.
And we do have more on our break news.
The president sounding off on a lot of things, including the Republican-led committee that just issued his son, Donald Trump Junior, a subpoena. What are they looking for here?
Plus, the president laugh when someone at one of his rallies suggests that the U.S. should shoot migrants.
And stunning video of what was found during a raid of a mansion, which includes more than a thousand weapons.
[13:29:03] KEILAR: Twice in two weeks now students have sacrificed their lives to save their friends from a school shooter. High school and college students who were displaying the kinds of acts of valor for which trained soldiers receive medals of honor. This is the reality of school violence in America right now.
Last week, 21-year-old Riley Howell died tackling a shooter at UNC- Charlotte. Authorities say that Howell's actions helped end what could have been a massacre.
And then earlier this week, a shooter opened fire at a school in Colorado, and 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo lunged to the gunman, a move that saved his classmates, but cost him his life. Three other students helped disarm the shooter there. One of the boys speaking out about the attack and Kendrick's heroism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRENDAN BIALY, STUDENT WHO HELPED STOP SHOOTER: I remember just feeling absolute and complete fear when he walked in. But once movement started, it's either fight or flight. And I'm just more than happy to know that what I thought I'd be able to do in a situation like that was the reality of what I did.
[13:30:02] And I want to make something very, very clear. Kendrick Castillo died a legend. He died a trooper.