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Shocking Conditions Revealed at Migrant Detainment Facilities; Montana Governor Steve Bullock Announces Presidential Run; Attorney General Launches Investigation of Investigators. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired May 14, 2019 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Saying President Trump is, in Pompeo's words, committed to improving ties between the two countries and very much wants better relations.

For his part, Putin says he wants to fully restore the relationship. But there is one thing that continues to overshadow all of this. And that is, of course, election meddling in the past and possibly in the future.

Here's what Secretary Pompeo said before these two men met.


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: As we have made clear for the past months, that interference in American elections is unacceptable.

If the Russians were to engage in that in 2020, it would put our relationship in an even worse place than it has been, and encourage them not to do that, that we would -- we would not tolerate that.


BALDWIN: And this is how Putin would later respond, citing the very thing President Trump has blasted as a witch-hunt and a hoax, the Mueller report.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): However exotic the work of special counsel Mueller was, I have to say that, on the whole, he had a very objective investigation, and he confirmed that there are no traces whatsoever of collusion between Russia and the incumbent administration.


BALDWIN: Another point of disagreement for the U.S. and Russia is Iran, as President Trump ramps up the rhetoric amid growing tensions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will see what happens with Iran. If they do anything, it will be a very bad mistake, if they do anything. I'm hearing little stories about Iran. If they do anything, they will suffer greatly.


BALDWIN: Not less than 24 hours later, the president said this about a "New York Times" report that the White House has reviewed a military plan that would send 220,000 troops to the Middle East if Iran were to attack U.S. forces.


TRUMP: Now, would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that. Hopefully, we're not going to have to plan for that. And if we did that, we would send a hell of a lot more troops than that.


BALDWIN: David Sanger is a national security correspondent for "The New York Times" and a CNN political and national security analyst. And he is also author of "Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age," out today.

Always a pleasure to have you on. Nice to see you.


BALDWIN: On Iran, obviously, listening to the president there leaving the White House, a lot of tough talk from him. But, of course, we know about the fact that he's pulled troops out of Syria, Afghanistan.

So I'm wondering, is Iran thinking he doesn't want conflict? What do you think?

SANGER: Probably is thinking that, just as the Russians thought he doesn't want to be in Syria.

And this is the great contradiction at the core of the American policy. On the one hand, the president talks tough, says, as you just heard, if they do something, they're going to be in a lot of trouble. Forget if they do something against American troops. What if they just restart the nuclear program along the lines that President Rouhani suggested last week they would, unless the Europeans did more to compensate for American sanctions?

So all those things could drive the U.S. to take action. And yet the Iranians know you have a president whose basic view is, we shouldn't be in Afghanistan, we shouldn't have -- still have troops in Iraq. He doesn't want international interference.


SANGER: And they have never squared the two. Then comes the other contradiction, which you heard from listening to

Secretary Pompeo there, which is, he talked a very tough line about the 2020 elections in two years, why the Russians needed to stay out. What do we know about the last conversation the president had with Vladimir Putin?

BALDWIN: He talked...


SANGER: He forgot to mention it.

BALDWIN: And forgot to mention the meddling, yes.

SANGER: Yes, just skipped his mind.

BALDWIN: Minor detail.


BALDWIN: I want to come back to that and -- of course, and your book.

But what struck me -- in reading about everything going on with the U.S. and Iran, what struck me as different was these oil tankers being targeted, these tankers that have been parked on the coast of UAE, raising fears that shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf could become flash points.

If this is Iran, if these reports are true, how significant is that?

SANGER: Well, it's the beginning of a sort of low-level kind of conflict. It's not full-scale warfare.

I don't think that the Iranians are ready to go take on the United States or the Saudis directly. And that's the reason an attack like this, if they did it, which appeared to use the sea-based mines that you can sort of drive up behind a ship within a motorboat, drop it off, send it to hit the back of the ship.

Now, fortunately, nobody was killed. We haven't even seen oil leaks from it. But all it does is create the seed of doubt that there could be more trouble. And more trouble is where the Iranians seem to be heading in this area, in cyber, and so forth.

BALDWIN: I want you to listen to this warning. This is from CNN national security analyst and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about that very "New York Times" report.


JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: There is always the likelihood, if you have our forces and Iranian forces in proximity to one another, there's always the opportunity for an accidental encounter that could be become incendiary.

[15:05:11] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think that's more likely now, given the heightened rhetoric between the two countries?

CLAPPER: Well, it could be.

I mean, depending on where these forces are deployed, and particularly if we bolster our presence in the Strait of Hormuz, that heightens the probability for an inadvertent encounter between Iranian and U.S. forces. So, just because of the numbers, the probability goes up.


BALDWIN: An inadvertent encounter, right, isn't that what we were saying before we were coming up here...

SANGER: That's right.

BALDWIN: ... about, what if somebody makes mistake?

SANGER: So this is where Jim Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, and Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, are in complete agreement.

Mr. Zarif was here in New York a few weeks ago. A group of us from the "Times" saw him. He saw a number of different media people.


SANGER: And the first thing he said to me was, "I worry about an accidental encounter."

And he didn't just mean that the Americans would make an accident, that it could be the Iranians as well. Now, I have a second worry, Brooke, which is, right now, the Iranians don't have a way of reaching the U.S. in the U.S., except the one way that they managed to do in 2012 and so forth.


SANGER: Which was cyber, right. They did a fairly sophisticated attack on American banks. They made an attempt at a dam in New York, which I think they may have hit by accident on the way to a bigger dam they were trying to get at.

But what have they learned over the past five or six years? That the Russians have proven we're susceptible to influence operations, and we saw some Iranian efforts during the midterm elections last November.


SANGER: We know that they have gotten significantly more sophisticated in their own cyber-corps since we hit their uranium production facilities in 2010 in Stuxnet or Operation Olympic Games.

So if they were to reach out to get to the U.S., I think that would probably be their preferred route. BALDWIN: And it's cyber. It's all over. That's your new updated bit of the book.


BALDWIN: "The Perfect Weapon."

David Sanger, good to see you.

SANGER: Great to see you.

BALDWIN: Thank you very much.

Now to this, moving on to a key development in the Russia investigation that the president wants. I'm talking about the investigation of the investigators and how the original probe into any Russia links to his campaign actually began.

Attorney General Bill Barr says it is happening, adding a veteran mob prosecutor to his team, a man by the name of John Durham. He has more than 30 years of experience with the Justice Department under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

And a short time ago, the president said he had no part in Bill Barr's decision to pursue the origins of the Russia investigation.


QUESTION: Mr. President, did you ask the attorney general to launch a probe into the Russian investigation?

TRUMP: No, I didn't ask him to do that.

QUESTION: Did you know he was going to do it?

TRUMP: I didn't know it. I didn't know it. But I think it's a great thing that he did it. I saw it last night. And they want to look at how that whole hoax got started. It was a hoax.


BALDWIN: So he says he didn't ask him, didn't know. But I want you to take note of this exchange when Bill Barr went before the Senate Judiciary Committee just two weeks ago.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone? Yes or no, please, sir.

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The president or anybody else?

HARRIS: It seems you would remember something like that and be able to tell us.

BARR: Yes, but I'm trying to grapple with the word suggest.

I mean, there have been discussions of matters out there that -- they have not asked me to open an investigation.

HARRIS: Perhaps they have suggested?

BARR: I don't know. I wouldn't say suggest.

HARRIS: Hinted?

BARR: I don't know.


BALDWIN: Kaitlan Collins is our CNN White House correspondent.

And to Senator Harris point, I mean, hinted? The president -- you don't have to be a genius to know how the president has felt about this investigation, right, and how he said many, many times someone should be investigating.


The president and his allies have even gone as far as to say that they think a special counsel should be appointed to counter Mueller, the special counsel, and his probe. Now, this is not that. This is one steps beneath that, where essentially this person does not have the independence that a special counsel would have.

But it is someone who is tasked with looking at this. And that is something the president says he did not instruct Bill Barr to do that. But, Brooke, he's clearly very proud of Bill Barr. He said that phrase exactly, describing his actions, and said essentially that he does approve that the attorney general has done this.

So now, not only do we have this U.S. attorney looking into it, but there are also several other investigations looking into how the Russia probe got started. And that's exactly what the president wanted.

And not only that, Brooke. Talking about hinting, the president's calls for this to be investigated have only gotten louder since the report was released and made public.

BALDWIN: Kaitlan Collins, thank you very much from the White House.


Coming up next: CNN obtains exclusive images of migrant families down at the border in heart-wrenching conditions, children sleeping on gravel, massive overcrowding there. Hear how the Trump administration is responding to this.

Plus, we are live in Montana where, moments from now, the Democratic governor of that state, Steve Bullock, is officially kicking off his campaign for president. And we will talk Beto O'Rourke trying to reset his campaign with an

appearance on "The View" this morning. The ladies grilled him about how he can break the perception that he is an elitist.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.



BALDWIN: This just in. Two police motorcycles traveling in the president's motorcade have crashed, the president and his vehicle not affected here, but a Bloomberg reporter posted this photo to Twitter.

The pool reporters say they saw some officers injured on the ground. It just happened as the president was heading to an event in Louisiana about 10 minutes from the Lake Charles Airport. No word on why the officers collided, but witnesses say they were standing when colleagues were tending to them.

We will keep an eye on that.

Come on in, the 2020 water is fine. At least that seems to be the thinking among Democrats from coast to coast, many of whom just can't resist jumping into this race for the White House.

The latest is Montana Governor Steve Bullock, a ruby-red state that voted overwhelmingly for President Trump in 2016. Bullock talked up his bipartisan background when introducing himself to voters today.


GOV. STEVE BULLOCK (D-MT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As the Democratic governor of a state that Trump won by 20 points, I don't have the luxury of just talking to people who agree with me.

I go all across our state's 147,000 square miles. I look for common ground and get things done.


BALDWIN: CNN's Dan Merica is in Helena, Montana, where the governor is formally kicking off his campaign.

So you are in a science classroom? Talk to me about that.


Yes, I have covered a lot of presidential announcements. This is the first in a science classroom. I can say that with some authority.


BALDWIN: Governor Bullock will announce his presidential campaign here formerly at Helena High School. It is the high school he graduated in -- graduated from. And the significance here is that Julie Ladd, who is the science professor here, actually was a childhood friend. They met and went to Helena High together. And Julie actually introduced the governor to his wife as well.

Now, all of this is to tout his hometown roots. Helena is the governor's hometown. He was raised here. He went on to become governor of the state, obviously. And it gets at something. For Governor Bullock, Montana very much is the message.

Now, as you have noted, he's number 22. He's certainly not early to this race. And I asked him about that yesterday in an interview we did, and he talked about the fact that he had a job to do. The legislature here in Montana meets once every two years. They finished up a few weeks ago, and the governor was even signing bills yesterday.

So, he had -- he had a job to do, he told me, and that that is why he waited so long to get in. That clearly has created some issues, though, for the campaign. In order to qualify for those first debates, he's going to have to get 65,000 donors to donate to him online.

There's also the threshold for the polling. He's qualified for two polls. He needs another poll to do just that. He will travel in a couple of days to Iowa to try and boost his name I.D. That is certainly another issue he has. He's very -- largely unknown outside of the state of Montana.

And so that trip to Iowa, where we're told he will stake most of his campaign, he will spend the most time in Iowa, because he believes, as you noted, his message of reaching out to Republican-leaning voters, many of whom voted for President Trump, many are -- who are similar to voters in this state, will resonate, especially in Iowa.

Now, his message will be one of progressive change that can get through places like Montana, a red state. He will talk about net neutrality. He will talk about expanding Medicaid. And he will also talk about getting dark money out of politics.

You noted in that video that he -- that he played, to announce his campaign, he talked about dark money in politics. And that, we expect to be a key message when he announces here behind me in a science classroom -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: All right, bugs and leaves and birds behind you. We all have a first. That's yours in a science classroom.


BALDWIN: Dan Merica, thank you so much for the update on the governor there.

But on to more.

I have got CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash with me now, because we know that Bullock brings the Democratic field to add another face to an already crowded page, right, 22 candidates, 22.

Another Democratic hopeful, Beto O'Rourke, stopped by "The View" this morning, part of what's being widely described as a campaign reboot for him. So here is how he addressed his splashier rollout, including that "Vanity Fair" profile.


QUESTION: Are those mistakes? Would you say those are mistakes, being on the cover of "Vanity Fair"?


QUESTION: It looks elitist? What?


O'ROURKE: Yes. Yes. I think it reinforces that perception of privilege. And that headline that said I was -- I was born to be in this in the article was attempting to say that I felt that my calling was in public service.

No one is born to be president of the United States of America, least of all me. So...


QUESTION: What about the part-time dad thing?

O'ROURKE: Yes, so -- so, listen...

QUESTION: You got some flak for that one.


O'ROURKE: Absolutely. And I deserved it.



QUESTION: What did you wife say? I'm sure your wife wasn't thrilled.

O'ROURKE: So, she -- so, listen, in -- in a real ham-handed way, I was trying to acknowledge that she has the lion's share of the responsibility during this campaign.

QUESTION: As most women do.

O'ROURKE: That's right.


BALDWIN: All right.

So, Dana Bash, a lot of -- I don't know about you. A lot of conversations I have had recently, people have been saying to me, well, where did Bet go?


BALDWIN: So, here he is.

BASH: Exactly.

BALDWIN: A bit of a reboot, because Joe Biden, whoosh, has sort of sucked -- to the detriment of a lot of these other people, sucked the oxygen out of the room, so not just Beto O'Rourke, but several others.

What is -- are they trying to recalibrate?

BASH: Yes, to remind people that they are...

BALDWIN: That they exist?

BASH: ... out there, that they do exist, that they are still running.


BASH: Just one real quick thing.

At the end of that segment that you just played there, he said again, in his way to recalibrate and pump up his wife, not just saying hah- hah, she's at home with our kids.


BASH: He said that his wife said to him that probably I get what you're doing honey, but that probably didn't come across the way you intended it.

BALDWIN: Listen to your wife.

BASH: And then Meghan and Sunny said, you're lucky you're not married to us.


BASH: She was too nice.

But look, on that note, it's so interesting, because every campaign year has a different rhythm. They have different characteristics. And, sometimes, it's going door to door and having the intimate, small gatherings, like Beto O'Rourke has been doing.

He has been working his butt off. He's been in Iowa especially and other places, but particularly Iowa.


BASH: And he's been doing the one-on-one, the retail politics, which, if there are five people in the field, might be beneficial.

But when you're gasping for oxygen with 22 people in the field..

BALDWIN: Yes, you got to go on national television.

BASH: ... including and especially Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, you got to have a national profile. And that is what he's trying to do.

On top of that, he's cleaning up on aisle announcement over and over again, as he does these interviews. And he's also doing a national event with us, a town hall next week.

BALDWIN: Yes, that you are hosting. You are hosting.

BASH: Looking forward to it.

BALDWIN: So, can we do a little slow-jam on the news?

BASH: I mean, who doesn't want to do that?

BALDWIN: Roll it.



PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Last month, I officially launched my campaign for president of the United States.

I believe it's time for a new generation of leaders. I'm the 37-year- old mayor of South Bend, Indiana. I'm a Rhodes Scholar and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. And though I'm running this race to beat President Trump, I'm not going to spend all my time talking about President Trump.

I want to talk about you and the needs of everyday Americans.



FALLON: Pete Buttigieg wants to satisfy all your needs.


FALLON: Ever since he declared his candidacy, America has been all hot and bothered for him. And now Mayor Pete's going all in.



FALLON: All in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's readied and prepared for a primary battle. His name is worth 800 points in Scrabble.

FALLON: Listen here, P.B. and (INAUDIBLE) you have had an explosive start to your campaign, but how do you plan to end it with a bang?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, in the coming months, I'm going to be traveling across the nation meeting people from all walks of life.

I want to show folks that the Republican Party does not have a monopoly on freedom and patriotism. Those values are alive and well with Democrats too.

FALLON: Wait a second. You're saying the Buttigieg bus is stopping all around the country. Then I guess that means...


BUTTIGIEG: Rocking everywhere.


BUTTIGIEG: So, yes, I want to invite everyone to join this campaign, Democrats and Republicans.

FALLON: Democrats and Republicans? So what you're saying is, you go both ways?


BUTTIGIEG: No, I'm just gay.



BALDWIN: I hear people laughing like all the way over there. I mean, it's hilarious.

BASH: It's hilarious.

And, look, it's not as if -- Barack Obama did this. Other candidates did it. I think even John McCain did it, this slow-jamming the news.


BASH: It takes some guts. You have to have a lot of confidence. But you also have to have the meat with the sizzle.

You also have to be able to go out and talk about substantive issues and not just be buzzy.


BASH: And what Pete Buttigieg has proven is that he can speak multiple languages and have a lot of...

BALDWIN: Gravitas.

BASH: ... substantive policy ideas and gravitas, but he can also have fun and get attention. Again, we cannot emphasize that enough, that, with this giant field,

having a moment where you want to play so much of that, as much as you played...


BASH: ... because it's just something you don't want to look away from, is key.


And it gives a sense of a person's personality, which is just as important as what they believe, even in a field where substance is the calling card.

BALDWIN: It seems to be working for him. It seems to be working for him.

Dana Bash, thank you.

BASH: Thanks, B.

BALDWIN: Thank you, thank you.

And, by the way, don't miss the town hall that Ms. Dana Bash is hosting one week from tonight with Beto O'Rourke. It'll be live from Des Moines, Iowa, next Tuesday at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

Coming up here, a CNN source at the U.S.-Mexico border so disturbed with conditions at a migrant detainment facility that they handed over these gut-wrenching photos to our reporter here at CNN, children forced to sleep outside on gravel in the rain.

We will be right back.