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CNN NEWSROOM

Interview with Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL); Theresa May Resigns as British Prime Minister; Female 2020 Candidates for President Rising in the Polls. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired May 24, 2019 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): -- dangerous. And if allowed to, will create a very dangerous precedent for the future.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Congressman, just to be clear on what you just said, are you saying that what the president is doing now is, in your words, quote, "far worse than what Russia did to our democracy during the 2016 election?"

QUIGLEY: We can inoculate ourselves against what the Russians did. Well, we can educate the public, we can defend ourselves from cyber- attacks. What I'm suggesting is, a profound change in the ability, the integrity, the independence of the Justice Department and the intelligence community, that will have a longer-lasting impact than what the Russians did.

What the Russians did was -- what did Mike Morell call it -- the political equivalent of 9/11. Absolutely. But if presidents are allowed to use law enforcement to go after their political enemies, where does it end? That's a self-inflicted wound, real damage to our democracy.

HARLOW: So you are -- I mean, you are saying it is far, far --

QUIGLEY: Oh, absolutely.

HARLOW: -- worse? OK. We have to see how this plays out. You believe that it is politically motivated to go against political enemies. I hear you on that.

Let me ask you this, though. Of course there is the irony of the White House fighting to keep so much of the Mueller report -- underlying evidence, testimony surrounding it from McGahn, et cetera -- secret, hidden, right? And then pushing for full transparency on this front, on the origins of the Russia probe.

I get the irony. But I wonder, sir, if there's any risk to Democrats in terms of at least optically, pushing against this latest probe by Barr into the origins of the Russia investigation, transparency there, while pushing for it on the Mueller report. What do you think?

QUIGLEY: I think it's different things. How did all of this begin? The first notion that the president of the United States was going to question the intelligence community or his predecessor, was -- it was a Saturday morning some time ago. The president woke up, read something in "Breitbart," and accused President Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower.

Of course, there was no truth to this. And there was a long string. A litany of accusations -- unfounded, unproven by the president -- attacking his predecessor and how this investigation began. None of them have borne out.

There have been investigations. My committee, the Intelligence Committee, is the oversight authority over the intelligence community. We would want to know if there were abuses. Absolutely none have been found. So this is yet another assault using the Justice Department, in reality, not just to go after an internal investigation, but to go after his political enemies.

And so looking back for the big picture, Russia attacked our democracy. Chairman Nunes at the time, from the intelligence community, and the president of the United States, locked arms and they joined in the fight by attacking the FBI and the entire intelligence community, its own Justice Department. The assault continues.

HARLOW: Congressman, let me turn the page and talk about impeachment. You said earlier -- you said this in February to "The New York Times -- that Democrats need to be, in your words, quote, "patient and practical" about impeachment. And I'm wondering if there is anything that has changed in your stance since then.

QUIGLEY: Well, that was before we found out everything about Manafort and Cohen and the --

HARLOW: Right.

QUIGLEY: -- release of the redacted report. I think what we have to recall here is -- and the speaker's strategy follows the notion that -- we can count votes in the Senate. And this, indeed, is a fight for the hearts and minds of the American public.

Simply impeaching the president on the House side isn't going to remove him --

HARLOW: That's right.

QUIGLEY: -- because they don't have the votes. So you've got to appreciate, this could backfire. We've had two important victories this week in court, where the courts recognized the broad sweeping authority of the House to investigate, especially when -- we're talking about an obstruction after the fact.

But what we're talking about earlier, to me, that moves the needle and it goes from the president abusing his power in the matter of obstruction, to the president of the United States assaulting and weaponizing the Constitution using the law enforcement power he has.

So, look, I think we need to continue to move along the path we have. And I think there'll be continued victories in the court system. But the president of the United States, as he moves toward a more dangerous tack, risks putting the House in a position where it has absolutely no choice.

[10:35:08] HARLOW: OK. It sounds like you're not there yet, but you may be moved there.

Let me ask you --

QUIGLEY: Yes.

HARLOW: -- in the short amount of time we have left, about something very important -- I think -- and that is the president, just this week, raised the possibility of easing restrictions on the Chinese tech giant Huawei, as part of an attempt to get a trade deal with China.

In the (ph) very same week that he called Huawei "very dangerous" for American national security, and the U.S. Department of Commerce put Huawei on the trade blacklist. Is that a good idea, to go easier on Huawei to get a trade deal with China?

QUIGLEY: It shouldn't be part of a quid-pro-quo. China and its security threats and its cyber-threats to the United States are very real. It is an existential threat to the United States security for a whole variety of reasons. That takes a broad-ranging systematic approach to address the Chinese assault.

Using it as a bargaining chip without getting to the core of the matter, the broad-ranging issues that we must address when it comes to telecommunication and even rail cars, belittles it. This is something we need to focus on and not throw off as a onetime offer.

HARLOW: OK. Congressman Mike Quigley, I appreciate having you on, on all of this. Thank you very much.

QUIGLEY: Happy holidays.

HARLOW: You too.

All right. Ahead for us, British Prime Minister Theresa May says she's stepping down. The impact it will have on the U.S. and the U.K. relationship as the president heads there, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN: I have done everything I can to convince M.P.s to back that deal. Sadly, I have not been able to do so. I tried three times. I believe it was right to persevere, even when the odds against success seemed high.

But it is now clear to me that it is in the best interests of the country for a new prime minister to lead that effort.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: That is British Prime Minister Theresa May this morning, announcing she's resigning after failing to deliver on Brexit. Let's go to my colleague Phil Black. He's outside of 10 Downing Street in London with the latest.

A lot of chatter about if this would happen. It has happened. But even with her leaving, I mean, the U.K. is still in the same predicament.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, very much so, Poppy. The premiership of Theresa May was brought undone by one issue: Brexit and her inability to come up with an agreed withdrawal agreement that would see Britain leave the E.U. -- the European Union -- in a very easy, organized way.

She's been trying to get something through parliament for years. And she's failed repeatedly. She'd run out of options and her party had run out of patience. And so they essentially said to her, "Time for you to go or we'll force you out."

And so you heard, there, the prime minister speaking, talking about her attempts, her repeated attempts. But she also spoke very emotionally at the end. There was real pain in her voice as she spoke about what an honor it had been to be prime minister. "The honor of her life," she said. And how much she loves the country.

This is not how she would have wanted her premiership to end. But it is how it is ending. And so now, it means this country must move on. First, there has to be the choice of a new leader of the Conservative Party, a new prime minister. That process will begin from her June the 7th.

So what it means, crucially, is that Theresa May remains prime minister through President Trump's state visit here in early June. We'll be looking to see, while President Trump is here, if he expresses any view on who he hopes could succeed Theresa May. Because in the past, he has expressed some preference, some admiration for Boris Johnson, the former --

HARLOW: Right.

BLACK: -- foreign secretary who resigned from the cabinet over Brexit, and who has since been a major thorn in Theresa May's side. And the man who really is the overwhelming favorite at this stage to replace her.

TEXT: Boris Johnson: A very dignified statement from @theresa_may. Thank you for your stoical service to our country and the Conservative Party. It is now time to follow her urgings: to come together and deliver Brexit.

BLACK: Today, Boris Johnson has said that he thought Theresa May resigned with dignity and he now hopes the country can come together to get through all the uncertainty and deliver Brexit. But all of those problems will still be waiting here for whoever replaces Theresa May --

HARLOW: Sure. BLACK: -- as the next prime minister -- Poppy.

HARLOW: They certainly will, and you could hear that pain in her voice with this announcement. She has made history, as only the second female prime minister, of course following Margaret Thatcher. Thank you very much, Phil Black.

All right. So a little bit of fun for you. My co-anchor, Jim Sciutto, went from morning to late-night TV last night. He was on "Colbert" -- this is so cool -- Stephen Colbert's show, to talk about his new book, "The Shadow War." Here is a clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT: Who is shadowier?

(LAUGHTER)

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Russia or China?

COLBERT: Is it Russia or China? Who has actually been more aggressive?

SCIUTTO: Russia is more aggressive today. You know, I say Russia's sort of like your drunk friend at the party, right? Like, they -- you know they're dangerous --

COLBERT: I think that literally you're drunk from (ph) that party.

SCIUTTO: -- they're your (ph) (INAUDIBLE) threat (ph).

(LAUGHTER)

You know they're dangerous when they walk in the room because they -- China is more like the quiet one in the background, but is more dangerous because they're kind of subtly evil, but equally vicious.

I mean, I talked to -- I talked to the former head of counterintel for the FBI -- he's a former cop -- and he talks about it. He's like, "No one's more vicious than China. They will kill you. They will kill your families." I mean, seriously. It's kind of mob. It's like --

COLBERT: Sleep tight, everybody.

SCIUTTO: -- it's like the mob, it's the mob.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[10:45:01] HARLOW: See? Isn't that reason for you to buy the book? Make sure to buy a copy of Jim's book, "The Shadow War." Let's get him, folks, to the top of "The New York Times'" bestseller list. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [10:50:10] HARLOW: All right. As Congress breaks for recess next week, many of the lawmakers who are also running for president in 2020 are hitting the campaign trail hard, starting today.

This morning, Senators Corey Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand kick of a multiday tour in a relatively important little state, Iowa. I'm completely kidding. A critically important state, Iowa. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar will also in the Hawkeye State tomorrow.

In the meantime, a new poll shows some surging favorability numbers for female candidates. With me now is our political reporter Arlette Saenz, and CNN correspondent Leyla Santiago.

Good morning to you both.

So, Arlette, let me begin with you on the female numbers that are up. I think we can pull them up. Women? Warren, up to nine percent from last month. Harris, up eight points. Klobuchar, up five points. Do we know why?

TEXT: Sen. Warren's Favorability Among Voters: Favorable: May, 60 percent; April, 51 percent. Not Favorable: May, 14 percent; April, 19 percent. No Opinion: May, 14 percent; April, 18 percent.

TEXT: Sen. Harris' Favorability Among Voters: Favorable: May, 58 percent; April, 50 percent. Not Favorable: May, nine percent; April, 10 percent. No Opinion: May, 15 percent; April, 19 percent.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, this is certainly a welcome figure, welcome shift that you're seeing for these women Democratic candidates. It might be a little too early to explain why they are seeing this bump in their favorability, but it's certainly a trend that could continue, especially as voters get to know these candidates a little bit more.

Elizabeth Warren is enjoying very high favorability numbers among the Democratic Party. She has rolled out these very specific policy proposals that have really differentiated herself from others in the field.

Kamala Harris, also seeing a boost as she's been one of those candidates that's kind of had to recalibrate her campaign since Biden entered the race.

But we're also entering this phase where the Democratic primary field is set, barring any type of late entry from someone like Stacey Abrams. And voters can now really look at these candidates and drill in on their records and their policy proposals and what they're going to be putting forth.

And one thing that we have to remember is that we are a little over eight months away from the Iowa caucuses. So --

HARLOW: Right.

SAENZ: -- so much can change, but these are certainly welcome figures for those female candidates.

HARLOW: Sure.

So Iowa matters a ton, Leyla. New Hampshire matters a ton. You've got South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg there, today and tomorrow.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right.

HARLOW: And we heard him yesterday, of course -- a veteran who served this country -- slam the president for not serving in Vietnam. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have a pretty dim view of his decision to use his privileged status to fake a disability in order to avoid serving in Vietnam.

ROBERT COSTA, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: You believe he faked a disability?

BUTTIGIEG: Do you believe he has a disability?

(LAUGHTER)

Yes. Yes. At least not that one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: He went on to say -- because the audience sort of laughed, Leyla -- "I'm not making light of disabilities. But I do think that he faked this one for not serving in a war."

It's interesting how much Buttigieg has been using -- and able to use -- his service to this country to make these points.

SANTIAGO: Right. And when I heard that, you know, one thing I thought about was a conversation that I had in South Carolina with -- we'll categorize him as a disillusioned Republican who was attending a Beto O'Rourke event.

And when I asked him sort of what he was looking for, he said, "I want anyone but Trump." And when I asked him why, he said, "I don't like what appeared to be disregard for servicemen and women." And he specifically pointed to the words that President Trump has used in describing Senator -- the late Senator McCain.

So when you hear Buttigieg really kind of talking about his service, that's something that's going to play well with that sector of the voters that really wants someone who has that veteran experience. I mean, he's young -- 37 -- but he's making sure that he lets people know, "Look, I served in Afghanistan. I am someone who has that on my resume."

And he's hoping, I think -- that's what his actions show -- that it really resonates with those voters.

HARLOW: And when it comes to experience -- a lot of experience -- in Congress and the White House, Arlette, you cover former Vice President Joe Biden.

And in the wake of the president's ongoing battle -- not really in the wake, in the midst -- of the ongoing battle with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, we saw Joe Biden tweet a video from his Philadelphia campaign rally with the caption -- quote -- "I know how to make government work, not because I've talked or tweeted about it but because I've done it."

He is trying to say experience is everything.

SAENZ: That's right. I mean, that is at the core of Joe Biden's argument. He was vice president. He is as close as you can get to actually being president, more than any other candidate. And he has pointed to his years -- not just in the White House but also in the Senate -- being able to bridge some of those divides that exist between the two parties.

Now, there are some in the Democratic Party who argue that this, you know, unity call to always work with Republicans is not what they need. Biden acknowledges that there are times that you need to go toe-to-toe with Republicans, but he also stresses this larger message, that consensus is needed in this country.

[10:55:15] And this all plays into Biden's argument that he can bring stability to the country, presenting a contrast to President Trump.

HARLOW: Arlette, thank you very much.

Leyla, good to have you both. Have a good -- I hope long -- holiday weekend. Enjoy it. All right.

HARLOW: All right. Minutes from now, President Trump leaves the White House for a major meeting with world leaders. And the question right now is, will he stop and answer reporters' questions on the way to Marine One, about giving the attorney general new and sweeping powers to investigate the investigators in the origins of the Russia probe. We're on it.

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