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Tornado Hits Missouri's Capital; Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin is Interviewed about the Tornado Hitting Her City; Trump Meeting with Democrats in White House Ends with Him Storming Out; Trump Says He Won't Work with Dems Until Investigations End; Subpoena for Trump's Financial Records Upheld in Court. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 23, 2019 - 07:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- you CNN TALK is next. For our U.S. viewers, destructive tornadoes tear through Missouri overnight. NEW DAY continues right now.

[07:00:07] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. breaking overnight, a deadly outbreak of tornadoes tore through the central United States. The capital of Missouri, Jefferson City, took a direct hit early this morning. You're looking at some of the pictures here.

That's the sound of the tornado sirens, obviously, piercing the darkness. That is what woke people up in the area. We're told rescues are under way in the capital. Multiple people are hurt. Tornadoes also killed at least three people in Golden City, Missouri. More than two dozen twisters carved a path from Oklahoma to Missouri in the last 24 hours.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We are just getting the first look at the scope of damage in Jefferson City. Houses, like those on your screen, some of them were just splintered, ripped to shreds. The wind was so strong it flipped cars over at this dealership. Missouri's governor is about to brief the media. And we will bring that to you live when it happens or when we get any new pictures or information.

But let's begin our coverage with CNN meteorologist Chad Myers. What's the situation there, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The storm has moved away. Things are clearing up for them. But I'm going to take you back just before midnight last night as the storm came right over Lake of the Ozarks, right over Elden and into Jefferson City.

This was a long track tornado, on the ground for at least 20 miles. In a warning for that long, as well. I'm going to go very local on you here. I'm going to take you to drill down on what this storm did.

There are four panels here. They are all the same picture, but there are different things on the radar. This is reflectivity. This is the motion of the storm where the winds are blowing. This is -- if there is damage we'll see it in blue. That means that there are things in the air that are not raindrops. And this right here tells us that that storm was 55,000 feet tall.

So here is the storm. There's Jefferson City. I'm going to back it up so that you can see it came all the way from Elden up from the southwest from Olean all the way on up from the southwest to the northeast. A well-defined circulation. Here, again, same projection. But that's where the circulation started. That's the blue, and the red and the green all together. We never like to see different colors back to back, right into Jefferson City.

Now I'm going to take you to this picture here and watch for the blue. Watch for that blue spot right there. That is the debris. Those leaves, twigs, sticks, insulation, shingles in the air. So on the ground and in the air with this damage for a very long time.

We've had 160 tornadoes over the week. Eventually, a city was going to get in the way. And Jefferson City was the one -- guys.

BERMAN: All right. Chad Myers, thanks so much for that report. Joining us now on the phone is the mayor of Jefferson City, Missouri, Carrie Tergin.

Mayor, thank you so much for being with us. We are seeing the light come up in Jefferson City. Tell us what you are seeing.

CARRIE TERGIN, MAYOR OF JEFFERSON CITY, MISSOURI (via phone): It is devastating. There was a lot of damage, a lot of large trees down everywhere. Power lines down, significant portion of the city without power. Roofs blown off. Windows. Many, many buildings have significant damage. And then there's a lot of them that just have small damage, as well. So it's just very widespread.

BERMAN: Any reports of deaths in your city?

TERGIN: No. Thankfully, there's not. We're getting ready to have a briefing right now at 6 a.m. local time, which is now. But as I am aware, there is not. And I'm very thankful. We've been praying that there's not.

It sounds as if the injuries have been few, which is truly amazing, considering the extent of the damage. But at this time, I'm not aware -- we've been up all night. And I'm not aware of any. And I hope that's the correct case. And again, a lot of devastating damage to buildings, but buildings can be replaced. We are most concerned about the people here.

BERMAN: We understand the governor's briefing right now, saying some 20 people have been hurt and they're being treated in hospitals. One of the things we did here overnight is it was possible there would be people trapped inside the rubble of these damaged buildings.

Are there any rescues currently under way?

TERGIN: I'm sure that those will continue. But most of them, I believe, were through the night. So the reports that you heard about trapped, I would believe were the ones that I'm aware of, at least, that were right after the storm occurred when they were trying to make assessments and get people out of some buildings.

And in particular, there were some apartment buildings, for example, that had significant damage. That it's my understanding they were able to get everybody out.

I will say our public safety officials, Jefferson City Police Department and fire department, along with all of the other agencies in the city and surrounding cities, have all come together. And all hands on deck. They've been working very hard and coordinating to make sure that they are, you know, out there in all the neighborhoods and doing what needs to be done to help everybody.

BERMAN: It's wonderful news that there -- you believe everyone has been rescued at this point.

Walk us through what you went through as this night developed. We've heard the warning sirens, the recordings of that. What was it like for you?

TERGIN: Right. The warning sirens were sounding which is good. And I believe the fact that everybody really did heed those warnings. They took shelter. And I think that's evidenced by the fact that, considering the extent of the damage, that's very significant that there were very few injuries, because people did listen to the warning sirens. There was a lot of media.

It was around the 11:30 p.m. time frame, so people were probably just getting to bed or had just gotten to bed and were able to tune in and hear the news reports and realize that this was upon us. Then they were able to help each other out. People were calling on and checking on neighbors and making sure that everybody was hunkered down during that time. And I think that -- that certainly helped.

BERMAN: What's the message you want to send to the people of Jefferson City this morning?

TERGIN: You know, it's what we've been doing. They're checking on their neighbors, taking care of each other. And we will absolutely do that. We have started that. Jefferson City, we take care of each other. That's how we are. We're a very strong city. We're working together.

And I have no doubt that we will come together in this situation. And we're just praying for the best for everyone. And we will work together and get through this.

BERMAN: Mayor Carrie Tergin, thank you so much for being with us. Again, as you are waking up and seeing first light there, the news does seem to be promising. No reports of deaths at this point. It does not appear anyone further is trapped inside the rubble. We wish you the best of luck today.

TERGIN: We appreciate that. And we'll take all the prayers we can get here. And we're going to work together and -- and get through this.

BERMAN: I know you will. Thank you, Mayor.

TERGIN: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: All right. This powerful storm system is also bringing catastrophic flooding to Oklahoma. That's where homes are being swept off their foundation, as you can see on your screen, into a swollen river.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is live in Guthrie, Oklahoma. What's happening there, Omar?


This system that really came through brought so much drenching rain with it. And as a result, heavy flooding that overtook many roads like the one we are on right now. Now, in parts of Tulsa, for example, flooding forced mandatory evacuations and the threat of more there.

Here, we are just north of Oklahoma City right along the Cimarron River. And yes, I mentioned it overflowed onto roads but also, it was so powerful at times it took homes with it.


JIMENEZ (voice-over): Rising floodwaters swallowing this entire house and carrying it downstream. And another home swept away by raging waters. The Cimarron River overflowing, eroding the shores and forcing residents to flee their homes. And officials warning people who live along rivers or creeks to prepare to evacuate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said, "What did you say?"

And she said, "Our house is gone."

Our son called us and told us, "Get the heck out of there."

JIMENEZ: And Oklahoma residents dealing with the one-two punch: historic flooding and tornadoes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Depending on how much rain we get with the next round -- couple rounds of storms, we could also be looking at another flash flood event with the river flooding.

JIMENEZ: Rescuers working around the clock to save those who are trapped. Emergency crews having to pull this woman out of a second- story window.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You cannot drive up to their House. We have to get a boat in the water or two boats in the water. It's going to take us a long time to get to.

JIMENEZ: The storms are blamed for at least seven deaths in the region. Officials say dozens of people hurt in Oklahoma alone.

MAYOR G.T. BYNUM (R), TULSA, OKLAHOMA: So long as we are working and Tulsans take it seriously, and pay attention and prepare, then we will get through this safely.

JIMENEZ: The Army Corps of Engineers releasing 215,000 cubic feet of floodwaters every second in an effort to keep the Keystone Dam from topping its floodgates. Tulsa's mayor warning the threat isn't over.

BYNUM: If people don't take this seriously and don't prepare. And that is how lives could be endangered.


JIMENEZ: Now one of the major concerns moving forward is this is really a region of the country that has been slammed by storms stretching back to March at this point that has led to flooding everywhere from Iowa to Texas, which makes these parts just a little bit more vulnerable to more flooding as rainfall comes back into the forecast over the course of the next few days, as well -- John, Alisyn.

BERMAN: All right, Omar. Thank you very much for being there with us. We are watching that very closely and the tornadoes very closely.

In the meantime, a blow-up at the White House as President Trump pretty much decided to take his ball and go home. Except it wasn't a ball; it was the business of America.

[07:10:07] The president abruptly walked out of a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, saying he can't work with the Democrats until they stop investigating him. This is what he -- this is what Pelosi said that set off the president.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We believe that the president of the United States is engaged in a cover-up.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Instead of walking in happily into a meeting, I walk into look at people that had just said that I was doing a cover-up. I don't do cover-ups. This whole thing was a takedown attempt at the president of the United States.


BERMAN: Want to bring in Abby Phillip, CNN White House correspondent; David Gregory, CNN political analyst; and Laura Coates, former federal prosecutor and a CNN legal analyst.

David, the president may think he's sticking it to the Democrats and may think he won the day. But didn't he just forfeit 18 months of his agenda?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he potentially did. He certainly took that stand. But he'll take these stands, and he'll go off like that. We've seen it before. So these kind of eruptions and tantrums are nothing new.

I don't know that he is forfeiting. But it is clear that, in some ways, both sides were spoiling for this fight. And there seemed to be some theater involved in everything that was going on. In fact, the president was out there with his premade sign going after the Mueller report. Looked like, you know, Infrastructure Week was not really upon us. This was never really something they were going to sit down and discuss.

And I think Speaker Pelosi is also in a jam, you know. She's got a lot of members in her caucus who are pushing her hard for impeachment, to begin those impeachment proceedings, which she doesn't want to do politically. But she shot that -- that cannon across the bow by saying that there's a cover-up involved out of frustration.

When you have a White House that's stonewalling you, I don't know what the alternative is. But I just thought both sides were engaged in a lot of maneuvering. And I think to your point, I don't think the president would be well-served to just shut down and not get anything done. I think there's a lot more potential upside for him in trying to call the Democrats' bluffs on issues that he'd like to get done.

CAMEROTA: Abby, you're at the White House every day. I don't know if people are aware of this, but the president sometimes changes his mind. OK? I mean, that is breaking news right there. And so he said it yesterday. It doesn't mean that he's going to feel it today.

Do you interpret this as he's not going to sign any legislation for the next 18 months?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's really not clear. And I think that, if the question is are White House aides going to follow the president's lead, the answer is yes, more than likely, yes.

But think back to the last time that the president stormed out of a meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. The result of that -- that was during the government shutdown several months ago -- the result of that, ultimately, was that the president caved on the government shutdown. He had basically said he's not going to fund the government until he gets his border wall. And then he funded the government without his border wall.

So I think it is likely that sometimes the situation overtakes the president. That when he has these moments like yesterday, you know, sources told us he was genuinely angry. Pelosi's comments really tipped him over the edge, and he decided that he wanted to create a scene, which was red meat for his base. I think people in the president's core base, they loved it. He looked like he was making a fool of Nancy Pelosi.

But I think it might have been a strategic mistake, where he now actually does need Nancy Pelosi. He needs Democrats for the USMCA trade deal. He needs Democrats for the -- for the budget deal later this fall. And he's going to need them for a lot of other things if he's going to come to the American people with an agenda going into 2020. So this could just be a short-sighted victory for him. And he might have to change course pretty soon.

BERMAN: You know, Laura Coates, David Gregory said that Nancy Pelosi was in a jam. And in a way, there were people inside her caucus that had been more aggressive pushing for impeachment than she wanted.

But didn't the president just unjam her yesterday with this theatrical act that allowed Democrats, give them an opportunity to rally around her? In addition -- in addition to the legal rulings, which continue to go her way, where judges are saying that the House has a right to conduct the oversight that it is trying to conduct.

COATES: In a word, yes. And the reason for that is, of course, she has this notion that you have to have the process unfold to give the president every possible opportunity to comply with the request, to be cooperative, to respect them as a coequal branch of government, to essentially give enough rope to hang himself in the end.

That's what she's done. She's asserted herself in saying, "Listen, we could go to impeachment." Of course, they've been attacked for the witch hunt propaganda. And if they're very hasty, this is all a partisan ploy.

But if she allows the process to unfold, at least outwardly, it dismisses the appearance of they're just trying to go after the president and take him down. They want the process to be followed.

[07:15:06] So I think he fed into that particular trap for Nancy Pelosi to do just that. Having said so, of course, the trap, you know, on one hand was a trap on the other. It takes a lot of the spontaneity away if you already have preordered and preprinted placards and exhibits to show that you thought you were walking out hastily, has all been undercut.

But also, the idea here is Congress has its authority to have oversight and to exercise authority. And of course, the Constitution already contemplated they'd be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. To legislate and provide oversight and accountability measures in place. They're doing just that.

And also, by the way, John, I'm kind of perplexed at the notion that this was the moment that the president was angered by the terms cover- up. The Justice Department already said that he was involved in a cover-up, potentially, when they said he was Individual No. 1 in a deal involving a cover-up involving Stormy Daniels. So it's hard to figure out why this was the moment in time, this was what precipitated this entire thing.

GREGORY: Let me just say, I disagree a little bit with you, John, about whether she's free of that jam. I think what's helping her is some positive rulings from the courts, where these subpoenas are getting unlocked a little bit and they'll get some of the information like financial records about his business finances that are coming out of courts in New York, a deal with the House Intelligence Committee and the Justice Department on some material.

Because I think it is useful for her to say that this is a cover-up when the White House is stonewalling. But I don't think that she's changed her view. She doesn't want to put those more moderate House Democrats in a position where they have to vote on impeachment.

So I don't -- I don't think that's changed. But I think that, to Laura's point, this -- the theater. And I don't think I've ever seen that in the Rose Garden, by the way. That you would come out with those kinds of placards. You know, that -- both sides get something out of that. Except for anybody who wanted to see something done.

BERMAN: It has all the spontaneity of date night. Right? It's like scheduled spontaneity. We're going to have a fight and then talk about the fight at exactly 11:15 with these preprinted signs. And then romance.

GREGORY: Right. Right.

CAMEROTA: You're giving us some insight.

BERMAN: Sorry. I digress.

CAMEROTA: I feel that this was an inside the Berman household.


CAMEROTA: So Abby, what's the feeling in the White House about these two court victories that Democratic lawmakers feel that they've just had?

PHILLIP: Well, it's -- you know, you're going to hear the president attacking, as he already attacked the judge who passed down the ruling in the Mazars accounting firm case. That's the strategy from the president, which is going to be to say that these are just liberal judges passing down these rulings that favor the Democrats and that they're hoping that, as this goes down the road and through the appellate process, they will net some victories, too.

But I mean, frankly, you know, the White House strategy around all of this is, in large part, just -- just pushing back, just creating roadblocks, slowing this whole thing down. And I think they're probably aware that some of these arguments that they're making in court are not going to hold water. This idea that the president just can't be investigated. They've got to know that that is not going to work out.

But this is a president who is very, very rich, and he has a lot of resources to put toward a legal fight that could go on for months and for years. And that is not going to ever hold him back. So they're going to fight as long as they can, even if they know that, ultimately, they may not win.

BERMAN: Hey, Laura, I'm fascinated by this New York law that was passed and that we believe Governor Andrew Cuomo will sign, which states that the House Ways and Means Committee can get the president's New York state tax returns.

Is this a slam dunk? Does this mean it will absolutely happen or are there any possible legal challenges to that going forward?

COATES; Well, you'll have a legal challenge, the president as he continues in the federal courts to try to stonewall and try to not get these things to be available and open to the public. He'll face a similar argument, and he'll have a similar defense he will mount on the state side.

Now, the difference between the two, of course, is that the president doesn't have the power he does on the state side as he does in the federal system.

It's another example of what's happening in New York and individual states that are recognizing the power of federalism here and states' rights to say that the Trump administration may be the one to stonewall the federal government, but they don't have the power to trump states and their authority to actually have information available to the public.

So they'll mount the same defense, but it will not be as powerful.

However, there's one thing about the notion of having the states be involved in this investigation. Of course, it certainly makes a good idea, even if the states have power. If the federal courts are looking at these issues and saying on the federal level, "You cannot simply thumb your nose at the subpoenas. You have to comply," it does bode well for state courts, who can use that authority, at least in a precedent basis, to say, "We're going to do the same thing here for consistency."

So it's a dual front that's being taken. And it doesn't bode well for the president of the United States.

[07:20:02] CAMEROTA: All right. Laura, Abby, David, thank you all very much.

Coming up, we should let you know, in our next hour, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders is going to join us live to explain the president's thinking and actions yesterday.

BERMAN: I'm very spontaneous. You need to know that.

CAMEROTA: The planned spontaneity for romance.

BERMAN: On any day -- on any day that begins with "T" I'm very -- I can do anything on some of those days.


BERMAN: After 5.

CAMEROTA: I believe you.

President Trump issuing a new ultimatum. The president says he will not work with Democrats until they stop investigating him, #gridlock. We discuss with a Clinton White House insider what happened during that impeachment process. Did everything grind to a halt? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TRUMP: I walked into the room, and I told Senator Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, "I want to do infrastructure. I want to do it more than you want to do it. I'd be really good at that. That's what I do. But, you know what, you can't do it under these circumstances. So get these phony investigations over with."


[07:25:09] CAMEROTA: All right. That was President Trump saying that he refuses to work with Democrats until they stop investigating him. So what will get done during this escalating stalemate as pressure to begin impeachment proceedings grows in some corners of the Democratic Party?

Joining us now is former White House press secretary during President Clinton's impeachment trial, Joe Lockhart. He's now a CNN political commentator.

Look at you over in the fancy seating area.


CAMEROTA: It really is. You've arrived.

OK, what happened when President Clinton was being impeached? Did things grind to a halt? Not grind to a halt, did they slow down?

LOCKHART: Well, they did slow down. But take it back a step, which is the president was under investigation almost from the day he went into office with the Whitewater investigation.

And I look at 1996 as a great example. There was the Whitewater investigation, the Filegate, the Travelgate. There were four or five different major investigations where people were having to go up and testify, having to produce documents.

And that -- in that year, an election year, we produced welfare reform. We produced raising the minimum wage. And we produced something called Kennedy-Kassebaum, which allowed you to move health care when you moved jobs. Three major things.

So the answer is, no, they didn't grind to a halt.

CAMEROTA: And so President Clinton just held his nose when he had to go over and talk to Republicans? I mean, he couldn't have been happy about that.

LOCKHART; He wasn't. But the president's strategy stance in such -- President Clinton's in such contrast to President Trump.

President Clinton was privately very angry, but he -- every time he went out in public, he said, "I'm not going to make myself a victim. This isn't about me. It's about the American public." It was a strategy, and it worked. Trump has done just the opposite. He has made everything about him.

And I really do think, in the long run, the public looks at the president, they look at Congress and they say, you know, in some ways they enjoy the back and forth or they're turned off by the back and forth. But they want to get things done. And Trump has now basically said, "Unless they stop looking at me" -- and if you're not hiding something, you know, you're not worried about the investigations -- "I won't do any of the people's business." And that's a really weak political end.

CAMEROTA: I suppose. Although he has reason to feel confident in his own strategic thinking, because he came out pretty well from the Mueller report, I mean, in terms of the upshot. And his stonewalling thus far has worked, other than in the past, you know, few days. These two court cases. But they still haven't gotten the goods.

Here's what Senator John Kennedy thinks, whose responsibility it is. Listen to this.


SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): The House leadership needs to urinate or get off the pot. Either the administration will win, in which case the oversight authority of the United States Congress will be undermined, or the House leadership will win, in which case no American with a brain above a single-cell organism is going to want to run for president of the United States.


CAMEROTA: That's not a great choice, actually, the way he laid that out there.

LOCKHART: Yes, I'm not sure I follow his logic or his metaphor. I certainly don't follow his metaphor.

But -- but listen, it's -- you know, you asked about impeachment in 1998. Tom DeLay was the basic architect, the one who whipped the votes, and went in and broke arms and capped knees to get Republicans, who didn't want to vote to impeach the president, threatened chairmanships.

In the middle of this, Tom DeLay came down to the White House and did an event with the president and the first lady on adoption and foster care. Because this was a signature issue, something he was personally interested in.

The Christmas party that year, Republican after Republican came and got their picture taken with the president.

So the idea that somehow this political fight shut everything down, it wasn't the case then. And the idea that somehow a presidential snit can bring government to a halt is a little scary. We've seen this show before. We shut down over the president being upset with Nancy Pelosi. CAMEROTA: I mean, President Trump isn't exactly saying that he's

going to bring government to a halt. He's saying he'll handle things through executive action; he doesn't need Congress.

LOCKHART: Well, you know, he has the same view there he does of the Constitution and that -- the three branches and the checks and balances. There's a very limited amount he can do with executive action. And he can't get through the signature issues that he promised in his campaign in 2016.

Now, he'll run and say it's all the Democrats' fault. You know, I think after yesterday's performance that's a tough sell.

CAMEROTA: What about Watergate? Did things still get done? Did Richard Nixon, was he inclined to still get things done?

LOCKHART: He was not only inclined, 1973 was kind of a watershed year for legislation. You guys talked about it in the last hour. But you had signature pieces including the War Powers Act, which was a -- which was done over --