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CNN NEWSROOM

U.S. Open to Talks with North Korea; Mom Warned Before STEM School Shooting; Bill Weld is Interviewed about Trump, Mueller and Barr Situation; 2020 Anxiety for Voters. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired May 10, 2019 - 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: Second missile test in a week and the U.S. just seized a North Korean cargo ship.

Let's speak to CNN national security reporter Kylie Atwood.

So, they're testing missiles. They had promised the president not to. And that was one of the successes he had claimed from his two failed summits at this point.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Right.

SCIUTTO: So they're doing that. But the U.S., I imagine, hitting back by trying to capture this ship and stop them from evading sanctions.

ATWOOD: Well, the U.S. is just revealing it, interesting enough.

SCIUTTO: Oh, I see.

ATWOOD: But, we need to go back here and look at the U.S. saying that they're open to these talks. You know, Steve thing here, Jim, is that they captured that ship about a year ago now. So the U.S. is just revealing it, interestingly enough.

SCIUTTO: Oh, I see.

ATWOOD: But we need to go back here and look at the U.S. saying that they're open to these talks. You know, Steve Biegun, in the region. But who's the decision-maker? President Trump. And he says that he's not sure if North Korea now wants to negotiate anymore.

SCIUTTO: Right.

ATWOOD: So if North Korea doesn't want to negotiate anymore, then where does the U.S. go? Do they start ramping up their aggression, taking in more North Korea assets? Because this is the first North Korean ship that they had actually seized control over.

SCIUTTO: I mean there's a political dimension in this because the president has put a lot of capital into this personal relationship and claimed successes when there weren't successes and given a lot of leeway to North Korea and made concessions to North Korea, by the way as well. There's a political element.

ATWOOD: There is. And we were just talking about it. It's 2020, right?

SCIUTTO: Yes.

ATWOOD: So President Trump would like to see these negotiations continue. But the reality is that they're going backwards, right?

SCIUTTO: Yes.

ATWOOD: So one of the first things that the U.S. and North Korea agreed to do jointly and that Trump touted as a big sign of progress --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

ATWOOD: Was getting these American war remains out of North Korea. That's since stopped because the U.S. and North Korea aren't talking.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

ATWOOD: so it could only go so far for how long President Trump can continue to say that this is going well, when things are actually going backwards.

SCIUTTO: Moving backwards.

OK, on Iran now, a rare concerning warning to commercial shipping in the Persian Gulf. What do we know?

ATWOOD: Yes. So this was a warning that commercial ships now, U.S. military boats that are in the region, oil tankers, may be targeted by Iran or Iranian proxies. This is going further than what the U.S. initially said earlier this week that American military assets or those of our allies could be targeted.

Now, this is based on credible intelligence coming into the U.S., multiple strains, that essentially are saying, Iran is amping -- upping the ante and really gaining posture militarily against the U.S.

Now, what happens here is yet to be seen because U.S. officials tell CNN, Barbara Starr, that this is not going down. This posture is increasing despite the U.S. sending a military presence there recently.

SCIUTTO: Yes, and then there's always the risk of escalation. You've got U.S. B-52s in the region now as well.

ATWOOD: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Kylie Atwood, thanks very much.

ATWOOD: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Poppy. POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so we're obviously keeping a close eye on the market. The market just opened. The Dow off 105 points here. Of course, this is as we know that there's not going to be a U.S./China trade deal likely made today. And those tariffs, additional tariffs, went into effect last night at midnight.

You might expect a bigger selloff here. The Dow only off 87. It may recover those losses for the day. It's because, as our Christine Romans says, investors are still hopeful that an agreement will be reached here in the near term. We'll watch very closely.

Ahead, a mother says she warned school officials there could be, quote, another Columbine months before Tuesday's deadly shooting at the Colorado STEM School. You will hear from that mother, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:37:59] SCIUTTO: One of the teens suspected of carrying out a deadly school shooting in Colorado will be in court this afternoon. The 18-year-old accused of opening fire at STEM School Highlands Ranch will appear. It is unclear if the other suspect, who is a minor, will be in court as well.

HARLOW: As we wait for that, in a CNN exclusive interview, a parent at the school says she warned school officials of the potential for, quote, another Columbine, months before Tuesday's deadly shooting.

Our Scott McLean joins us again this morning in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

When Jim and I heard this, this week, we were stunned. And now CNN has spoken to that woman, that parent, under the condition that she remain anonymous.

What did she say?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Jim and Poppy.

The woman you're about to hear from says that she is the parent who complained about what she calls a pressure cooker environment at that school. As you mentioned, she is choosing to remain anonymous because she fears retaliation. But CNN has confirmed that she does have a child at that school and she also knew a lot of details about the allegations being made.

She speaks of kids who had a rigorous academic program, little sleep and who started acting out with aggressiveness. She talked about attempted suicide, teachers having to intervene in fights, and she feared that all of it might one day culminate in someone getting seriously hurt or even killed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It looks like, to me, that there were a potential for having another Arapahoe or Columbine shooting. And I was seriously concerned about it. When -- when you mix not reaching out, when you mix a pressure cooker environment where students are stressed out and overworked and they don't get enough sleep and they feel suicidal or they feel aggressive towards one another and they're not being disciplined for it, when you don't listen to parent's concerns, when you don't support teacher's concerns, when you don't give teachers the kind of training that they need or the support that they need, those are the elements that we need for the perfect storm for something like a Columbine or, you know, some kind of imminent threat to our children's safety in the school, whether it be a bomb or an active shooter or a suicide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[09:40:26] MCLEAN: Now, this parent says while teachers were well- intentioned, there was this pervasive culture of polarization where the school administration didn't listen to teachers or parents. Now, the executive director of this school responded to CNN through a PR firm saying that the school had found no evidence to support this parent's allegations, writing in a statement, like any school with more than 1,800 students, we receive complaints all of which we take seriously and investigate promptly.

I should also mention, though, that in response to this parent's complaint, the school actually filed a defamation lawsuit against her back in January.

Jim. Poppy.

HARLOW: Wow.

SCIUTTO: It's incredible that a parent concerned about safety in school feels she has to hide her identity. I mean, it's just incredible where the debate has come.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Scott McLean, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: CNN polling shows now that nearly nine in ten Republicans approve of how President Trump is doing at his job. So how does a man running for the GOP nomination in 2020 against President Trump plan to beat him? We're going to ask former governor of Massachusetts, Bill Weld, that very question, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:45:55] SCIUTTO: The House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler now says it is unlikely Special Counsel Robert Mueller will testify on May 15th. That was the date floated by Democrats earlier this month. Nadler says talks to finalize a date are ongoing with Mueller's team at the Justice Department. Of course, that all depends on if President Trump will attempt to prevent Mueller from testifying.

Right now he says he is staying out of that decision.

Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Will you allow Robert Mueller to testify in Congress?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I'm going to leave that up to our very great attorney general. And he'll make a decision on that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Well, we'll see.

Let's discuss with former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld. He is running against President Trump for the Republican nomination for president in 2020.

Governor, we appreciate you taking the time this morning.

BILL WELD (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Jim, thank you so much.

SCIUTTO: So let's get to this issue here.

You've said the president should resign, but interestingly you have not gone as far as to say he should be impeached, preferring this to be a decision at the ballot box in 2020.

Since you've made that statement, though, the president has instructed virtually the entire executive branch to ignore all subpoenas from Congress and may or may not stand in the way of the special counsel testifying.

Does that change your view?

WELD: Well, I think the president is trying to bait Congress into impeaching him because then he can have a complete circus between now and the 2020 election. But his position, you're right, it's just, they are Democrats, therefore they are partisan, therefore we're not cooperating in any way with them. He's abandoned all responsibility that should attach to his office as president. Congress is an equal branch of government under the Constitution, maybe even a superior branch of government. It's Congress in Article 1, it's not the president.

So I think the president has shown that he really has no interest in being serious about any of the great issues of the day in Washington. He has one-word slogans, wall, hoax, so he's not really doing the job, in my view.

SCIUTTO: Do you think he has the politics right here, because we've noted that Democrats running for the 2020 nomination, they don't talk about the Mueller report or investigation very much, they're not getting asked about it very much. Does the president have his finger on the pulse here in effect correctly?

WELD: Well, he certainly doesn't have the law correctly because 750 former federal prosecutors, myself included, have signed a letter saying that there were multiple examples of the president committing obstruction of justice, and it wasn't even a close call. Now, against that, we have attorney general Barr who says, oh, no, it's impossible for the president to have committed obstruction unless, you know, he was right there committing the offense, like in the Watergate hotel with G. Gordon Liddy and Howard Hunt in the case of Nixon. So that position is completely untenable in my view.

And Bill Barr is a smart lawyer. So I can't figure out quite what's going on there.

SCIUTTO: So I wonder then, based on what you just said, but also past comparisons you've made between Trump and Nixon, including citing reasons that Nixon was impeached --

WELD: Right.

SCIUTTO: Like failing to take care of the law, it's a clause that the Constitution gets to the presidential duties here.

WELD: Right.

SCIUTTO: So why should the president not be impeached if he is exhibiting Nixonian behavior?

WELD: Oh, on the law, he's absolutely subject to impeachment right now. I mean he's making no effort to see that the laws are faithfully executed. And volume two of the Mueller report makes that very clear and makes clear that he -- if you read the end of it, pages 178 to 183 of volume two, he makes it clear that the president even acted with corrupt intent. So it's all there. And the argument against impeaching now is a purely political argument that we don't want just a circus between now and November of 2020. We want the president to be held accountable for what he's done and left undone.

SCIUTTO: On your colleagues, Republican colleagues, many of whom in previous times were very critical of the president. Lindsey Graham called him a cook (ph).

WELD: Right.

SCIUTTO: Ted Cruz called him a pathological liar.

As you watch your Republican -- fellow Republicans line up to defend the president now at every turn, what do you say to them?

[09:50:06] WELD: I find it incomprehensible. You know, I know a lot of these senators in D.C., the Republicans, and they're good people. And I just don't understand why nobody will bell the cat. It really seems to me to be a case of no one will say the emperor has no clothes except -- until the six-year-old boy says it, and then everyone says, oh, yes, we knew that all the time.

So, you know, I think that dam is going to burst at some point and the president can't continue to live in this unreality that he's concocted for himself. I mean his position is, there is no primary. There is no election.

But, let's be honest, the president wants to be reappointed president by the Republican National Committee and he doesn't want to brooke (ph) any interference with that hallowed process. You know, that's not how the world works, the real world.

SCIUTTO: How do you, talking of the real world, have a path to winning here when 90 -- well, 86 percent of Republicans, based on CNN's latest poll, approve of his job as president?

WELD: Well, you know, I'm going to play it the old fashioned way, one voter at a time in New Hampshire. I'm taking off for New Hampshire and Vermont to campaign tomorrow.

But, as I say, I think the president's approach here, I'm not going to play ball, I'm not going to exercise any of my responsibilities, I'm going to hollow out the State Department, the Defense Department, the Homeland Security Department so that all that power will revert to me, the president, individually, and I'll make all the decisions and I don't have to listen to Congress or anybody else. That's, you know, for want of a better word, that's not the American way. That's how a king or a despot would act. And the framers of our Constitution, if nothing else, they were united in their desire to make sure that we didn't have another king in the United States.

And, you know, Donald J. Trump, candidly, he looks like he would -- he would rather be a king than a president who had to work to earn and preserve the trust of the American people. And as President Lyndon Johnson once said, once you lose the trust of the American people, as Mr. Nixon did when the tapes proved that he had been lying for years to them, you'll never get it back.

SCIUTTO: Bill Weld, thanks very much.

WELD: Thanks, Jim.

HARLOW: All right, interesting and an important conversation.

Also this ahead, an historic number of women are vying for the Democratic nomination in 2020. But is there a fear of getting, quote, "Hillary'd" then? Some Democratic female voters that we spoke with say yes.

Plus, see what happens when victims and offenders of violent crimes meet face-to-face on the new CNN original series, "The Redemption Project" with Van Jones. That is this Sunday night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN. Followed by "Shades of America," "United Shades of America," with W. Kamau Bell at 10:00.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:56:21] HARLOW: All right, welcome back.

Now poll numbers out of New Hampshire show former Vice President Joe Biden with a two to one lead over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in that early primary state. Senators Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar are all in the top eight, but they are still all in the single digits in this Monmouth poll.

Could the ghost of 2016 be haunting their campaigns? Our MJ Lee spoke with female voters who fear a female nominee could get quote "Hillary'd" in 2020.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Because that's all anybody wanted to talk about, what I was wearing, what my hair cut was.

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Six women seeking the Democratic nomination for president in an historic election, four senators, one congresswoman, and a spiritual writer.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As a young mom, I will fight for your children as hard as I would fight for my own.

LEE: Female voters across the country telling CNN that it is time for a woman to finally take the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We make up, I think, 51 percent of the population.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think a man could ever handle the pressures of that office any better than a woman.

LEE: But there is another, darker sentiment, frustration about sexism, fueled by flashbacks to Hillary Clinton's loss in 2016.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but some day, someone will.

LEE: Democratic voters describing a lingering trauma from the last presidential election.

ELLIE TAYLOR, STUDENT: Some have voiced concerns about you getting "Hillary'd" in the election, meaning that you get held to a higher standard than your opponent for potentially arbitrary or maybe even sexist reasons.

LEE: And concern that nominating a woman again will hand Donald Trump a second term.

TERESA JONES, SOUTH CAROLINA VOTER: I think that most people didn't vote for her because she was a woman. And I think that they -- they ended up voting for Trump because he was a man.

DEVORAH BADEE, MICHIGAN VOTER: I worry about the old boys club.

LEE: Nine months out from the Iowa caucuses, some of the women who want to see a female president leaning towards supporting one of the men.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would vote for Joe Biden. Because I think he has the best chance of winning the presidency.

LEE: On the campaign trail, the female candidates making a forceful case for why women are just as electable as men.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And people told me it cannot be done, they're not ready for you, it's not your time, it will be hard work (INAUDIBLE). And I knew this. And we won.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Someone once said, and I agree with part of this, but not all of it, that women candidates should speak softly and carry a big statistic. OK, so I think you know I don't always speak softly.

WARREN: It's going to be fun when I say, and I won because that's what girls did.

LEE: A recent CNN poll showing no indication that women are overwhelmingly supporting the female candidates over the male candidates. This man telling CNN he does have a gender bias.

KEITH KUPER, IOWA VOTER: If there were two equally qualified candidates, one was male, one was female, I would support the female. It's high time we had a female president.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: That is a fascinating piece, MJ. For people who haven't read it, I would encourage them to read your piece online as well.

But let's talk about also where you are. You are in Kermit, West Virginia. This is a town that is ravaged by the opioid crisis.

[09:59:47] LEE: That's right. This is a very small town in southwest West Virginia, and if you've heard of it, it might be because this town was in the headlines last year because one pharmaceutical company had sent over around 3 million prescription pills to one single pharmacy here over a course of ten months.