Return to Transcripts main page


British Prime Minister Theresa May Announces Resignation; Trump Gives Barr Power to Declassify Russia Probe Intel; Doctored Video of Pelosi Slurring Her Words Goes Viral; Trump False Claims China Will Pay for $16B Farmer Bailout; Trump Heads to Asia Amid Escalating Trade War with China. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired May 24, 2019 - 06:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

[05:59:24] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Friday, May 24, 6 a.m. here in New York. Major breaking news from the United Kingdom.

Moments ago, the British prime minister, Theresa May, announced she is resigning and will begin the distinctly British process of stepping down in just two weeks. May has faced intense pressure over her latest Brexit plan and failure to get any of her withdraw agreements passed by the British Parliament.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Many people saw this coming for the past few months.

BERMAN: You've been telling me every day.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, I think that when you watch some of those Parliament meetings, it seems as though, A, she wants out.


CAMEROTA: And as though she wouldn't be able to hang on much longer.

The British government, as you know, is in a bit of chaos and this comes just days before President Trump makes his first official state visit to the U.K.

So again, we've been watching the chaos unfold and now here's the day.

BERMAN: So June 7 is the day she steps down as party head, which is after President Trump visits. So she'll still be party head and in charge of the government when the president is there.

Let's listen quickly to what the prime minister just said.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit. It will be for my successor to seek a way forward that honors the result of the referendum. To succeed, he or she will have to find consensus in Parliament where I have not.


BERMAN: So she steps down -- she steps down as party head June 7. Then it will take several weeks to come up with a new prime minister. And of course, the queen has to officially name the new prime minister and they go meet --

CAMEROTA: Yes, or more, I think, just as importantly, the new prime minister has to figure out a way to do Brexit, which has proven impossible.

BERMAN: Impossible. So we will see what happens there.

Also breaking overnight, in an unprecedented move, the president has granted Attorney General William Barr full authority to declassify sensitive intelligence. He also ordered the intelligence community to cooperate with Barr as Barr investigates the origins of the Mueller investigation.

This is happening as the president's closest allies are spreading lies about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. So all of these moves seem to suggest the speaker has unnerved the president.

CNN's Lauren Fox live on Capitol Hill with the very latest -- Lauren.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Congress is in recess at this moment, John, but you know, one of the things we've seen over the last week as we have a lot of questions about how much they're going to be able to investigate the president once they return from this congressional recess.

There's still a lot of questions about when Mueller will testify before the House Judiciary Committee. And all of this comes as the president is ordering intelligence officials to cooperate with that probe into how the Mueller investigation started.


FOX (voice-over): President Trump boosting Attorney General William Barr's power, issuing a formal memorandum, ordering the heads of the U.S. intelligence agencies to declassify documents and "promptly provide such assistance and information as the attorney general may request in connection with that review."

It comes as Barr begins examining the origins of the Russia investigation. A Justice Department official telling "The New York Times" Barr asked Mr. Trump to issue the memo.

The White House defending the measure, writing, the "action will help ensure that all Americans learn the truth."

President Trump's move concerning some in the intelligence community. JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I wonder

what else is going to be declassified that -- that risks jeopardizing sources and methods.

FOX: House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff accuses the president and attorney general of conspiring "to weaponize law enforcement and classified information against their political enemies."

Trump once again, without proof, insists some former top intelligence officials committed treason.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: "Should she lose, we'll have an insurance policy; and we'll get this guy out of office." That's what they said, and that's what they meant. That's treason.

FOX: But stopping short of accusing House Democrats of doing the same.

TRUMP: Without the "treason" word, I guess. But that's what's happening now. They don't feel they can win the election, so they're trying to do the thousand stabs.

FOX: All this comes as the president and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi trade more insults.

TRUMP: Crazy Nancy. I'll tell you what, I've been watching her, and I have been watching her for a long period of time. She's not the same person. She's lost it.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The White House is just crying out for impeachment. That's why he flipped yesterday.

I pray for the president of the United States. I wish that his family or his administration or his staff would have an intervention for the good of the country.

FOX: President Trump even going as far as calling on top aides to defend his actions at the White House meeting with Democrats that ended abruptly.

TRUMP: Kellyanne, what was my temperament yesterday?


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Very calm. I've seen both, and this was definitely not angry or ranting.

TRUMP: I'm an extremely stable genius, OK?

FOX: Pelosi using the president's own words to fire back, tweeting, "When the 'extremely stable genius' starts acting more presidential, I'll be happy to work with him on infrastructure, trade, and other issues."

(END VIDEOTAPE) FOX: And the president clearly very disturbed by the level of

investigations that Democrats have into him, but there are a lot of real issues that they're going to have to work out come this fall, including a big spending deal and raising the debt ceiling -- Alisyn.

[06:05:05] CAMEROTA: Well, it's a good thing they're all modeling adult behavior for the rest of the country, Lauren. Thank you very much.

Now to this. There's this doctored video of Nancy Pelosi that attempts to make it seem as though she is slurring her speech. It is going viral on the Internet. It already has millions of views.

This fake video slows down Pelosi's words at an event earlier this week to make it appear as though she is struggling. We're going to show you the real video first and then the fake one.


PELOSI: And then he had a press conference in the Rose Garden with all of this sort of visuals that obviously were planned long before.

And then he had a press conference in the Rose Garden with all of this sort of visuals that obviously were planned long before.


CAMEROTA: All right, a spokesman for Pelosi says the speaker is not going to comment on, quote, "sexist trash."

The video has been removed by YouTube, but of course, it is still circulating on social media sites.

Another carefully-edited mash-up of Pelosi, or doctored -- well, not doctored, but just manipulated, I should say, mash-up, makes it appear that her speech is awkward and stammering. This one actually aired on FOX Business Network. President Trump shared the video and the FOX segment that accompanied it.

BERMAN: Yes. You know, we say a doctored video is making the rounds. That removes the responsibility. There are allies of the president spreading lies. Conservative allies of the president spreading lies about Nancy Pelosi, including Rudy Giuliani, the president's lawyer and confidant, his henchman, who tweeted out that video, that fake video, that lie of a video. Giuliani tweeted it out last night. He removed it 15 minutes later, but he put it out well after "The Washington Post" first reported that this conservative website was doing this.

And I will also note --

CAMEROTA: Well, I just want to say one thing about that. I worry that Rudy Giuliani doesn't know that that was a doctored video. I mean, I don't know which one is worse, that he couldn't tell that that was a doctored video and tweeted it out, or that he did know -- there was only one of two options. Either he did know or he didn't know. Both are concerning.

BERMAN: He should have known. And the thing that makes me think maybe he did know is the obvious global strategy from the president and his allies to highlight this. FOX Business, whether on the payroll of the president or not, I don't know, but they did that mash- up, which the president then tweeted out. What comes first, the chicken or the egg? Did he ask them to do it? Did they do it and he tweeted it out? I don't know, but clearly those around the president want this message out there.

CAMEROTA: Right. And using any device, even fake device.


CAMEROTA: And nobody knows the origin of that doctored video. Who knows?

BERMAN: Well, but it's from this conservative website, and they posted it, you know, on Facebook, and it's gotten all these hits.

CAMEROTA: That's who created it, you're saying?


CAMEROTA: I thought they hadn't yet figured out who created it. They pushed it out.

BERMAN: Well, they're the one pushing it out.

CAMEROTA: So we will show you more of that in the program.

BERMAN: All right. This morning, new fallout from the president's trade war with China. The president announced a new $16 billion bailout for farmers who have been devastated by this policy. He lied about where the money is coming from. He says China is paying for it.

Christine Romans is here to give us the facts. The farmers need this money.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Yes, they really do. They have been the collateral damage of the president's trade war, no doubt here. And the president plans to bail them out, to bail out farmers hurt by his trade war with China. He's promising $16 billion in aid and saying this.


TRUMP: Because it all comes from China. We'll be taking in, over a period of time, hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs and charges to China, and our farmers will be greatly helped.


ROMANS: OK, fact check. That's not a fact. China is not paying for the farmer bailout, just like Mexico is not paying for the president's border wall. Trump doesn't have a magic bank account with tariff revenues and charges to China that he can then write a check from. It just doesn't work like that.

The program the USDA, the Ag Department wants to use is a Depression- era emergency facility meant for disaster, economic disaster, essentially confirming the president's trade war is an economic disaster for American farmers.

Farmers, by the way, will not even remotely be made whole by this. The bailout won't even cover enough of what they lost because of the trade war. And the National Corn Growers' Association said the last bailout will amount to about a penny a bushel for corn. Also, farmers don't want bailouts. They want access to global markets. And they aren't the only ones paying the price of the president's tariffs.

The New York fed reports, the latest increase in tariffs on China is costing the average American household $831 a year.

Ironically, in the biggest capitalist economy in the world, the president of the United States is picking the winners and losers. He's essentially affecting a transfer of wealth from American consumers -- that's who pays tariffs ultimately -- to farmers who are being hurt by his policies -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: All right, Christine, thank you very much for that important update.

[06:10:03] So as the trade war with China heats up, President Trump heads to Asia later today for a weekend meeting with Japan's prime minister.

CNN's Joe Johns is live at the White House with a preview. What do we expect, Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, this is going to be a three-day visit. It comes at a time of upheaval in the president's Asia policy. He's got Kim Jong-un firing rockets again on the Korean Peninsula. He's in a trade war with China.

But we are told by a senior administration official not to expect a lot of policy deliverables out of this trip, because it's being described primarily as a state visit. It will be the president's first opportunity to meet with the new emperor of Japan, as well as his wife, who is a diplomat in her own right, as well as a graduate of Harvard here in the United States.

There's probably going to be a lot of color on this visit. We're told the president is also going to go to a sumo wrestling match. There's been some question about how the Secret Service might be able to secure something like that, but we'll see how they pull it off.

The president also expected to meet with Shinzo Abe, the prime minister, and talk about some of the substantive issues that are on the plate for the United States and Asia.

Now, one of the things that is quite interesting, of course, is a lot of times presidents go abroad to sort of cast themselves in a different light for the people back home. It's happened before, for numerous presidents. With all the conflict, however, here in the United States, the question is what the president is going to get out of this.

Back to you, John.

BERMAN: All right. Joe Johns for us at the White House. I want to hear much more about the security concerns concerning sumo wrestling. But thanks very much, Joe.

New reports this morning that the Trump administration is set to bypass Congress to allow the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia. "The New York Times" reports the president would invoke an emergency provision preventing lawmakers from stopping the arms sale.

Last month, both the House and the Senate approved bipartisan legislation to end military assistance for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. That was in response to the death of Jamal Khashoggi. President Trump vetoed that Bill.

CAMEROTA: All right, up next, devastating images after tornadoes ripped through Missouri. Will this severe weather continue through the holiday? That's next.


[06:17:05] BERMAN: A new round of violent storms is expected today in the nation's midsection as the full scope of tornado devastation becomes clear in Missouri. Look at all these pictures.

The National Weather Service estimates that the tornado that hit Jefferson City brought 160-mile-per-hour winds.

Let's go to Chad Myers in our weather center for the forecast to get a sense -- I understand, Chad, the severe weather, not over.

CHAD MYERS, CNN AMS METEOROLOGIST: Till Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, 193 tornados since last Friday on this map. One storm after another. And why? It's because there's a big of trough of low pressure here. There's a big ridge of high pressure here, and right through this area, tornado alley. This is why it lights up in the spring. Because when you get a pattern like this sets up, it will be one day after another: 75 or more, record highs expected across the southeast this weekend.

If you're traveling to the beach, it will be hot. I-95 is closed near Jacksonville because of a forest fire there. Orlando, 92. Ninety- seven as we work our way into Monday afternoon.

This is what this afternoon looks like. Big storms popping up, Kansas City almost to Chicago. Right through Oklahoma City again after dark tonight. So just one wave after another.

Here's today with the risk. Here's tomorrow with the risk, all the way to Pittsburgh tomorrow afternoon. And here's Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. One day after another, because that pattern will not break. The temperatures are going to be high. Even in New York City, your

highs will approach 90 degrees with the heat index by the time we work our way into the weekend. Look at that, even Wednesday. All the way to 87. Not cooling down now. Here comes summer.

Guys, back to you.

BERMAN: Once we're talking about the heat index, it's real.

CAMEROTA: Yes, it's on. It's on. Thank you, Chad, very much.

BERMAN: All right. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been charged with 17 new counts under the Espionage Act for his role in publishing national defense information.

The Justice Department has traditionally prosecuted government officials who leaked classified information. These charges, again, are related to the publishing, which is different, very different. And press advocates, some are concerned about the precedent this could send, should Assange be convicted.

CAMEROTA: OK. Speaking of classified information, is President Trump somehow weaponizing classified info against political enemies? The president's latest order is raising concerns. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:23:42] BERMAN: President Trump is giving the attorney general unprecedented authority over classified intelligence. And the president's closest allies, they're spreading provable lies.

Joining us now to discuss, Rachael Bade, congressional reporter for "The Washington Post" and a CNN political analyst; and Michael Smerconish, host of CNN's "SMERCONISH."

And Michael, I want to start with you with the news overnight. The president announced it via Twitter, and then press secretary Sarah Sanders put out a release.

William Barr has the full authority now to de-classify, I guess, whatever information he wants to and order, essentially, the other intelligence agencies to give him information about the genesis of the Russia investigation. William Barr, we know, has expressed very public skepticism about all of this. What does it all mean?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, HOST, "SMERCONISH": Well, I'd like to see it happen, but I don't want it -- I don't want it done selectively. The great concern that I have is that there will be a drip, drip, drip of information without the full picture having been presented.

As you know, there are these two narratives. Narrative one, as evidenced by the Mueller report, is that George Papadopoulos, with his loose talk at a bar with an Australian diplomat, really began this process. It then led to Carter Page and FISA warrants that several times over met a probable cause standard. And it fits a logical path when you understand it. [06:25:05] Although, you know, in the Twitterverse and on a certain

network, there's a completely alternative set of facts relative to some so-called deep state. So, fine, let's have it out. Let's have the investigation. Tell us everything. Don't make it piecemeal. That's my concern.

CAMEROTA: Well, the other concern, Michael, I think -- and Richard, you can weigh in here -- is that Bill Barr has proven to the American people that he does not process information accurately. He -- they -- as everyone learned the hard way, he can't be trusted to accurately describe the classified information or whatever it is he's seeing, because we saw how he misrepresented the Mueller report. So that's the problem.

I mean, I think that more people are waiting for the -- Michael Horowitz, the inspector general, his report on some of this stuff, because I just don't know if Bill Barr is seen as a straighter shooter now.

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that's exactly the concern Democrats have right now. Is that is, your -- this whole process, what you're seeing is that the president is allowing, taking the authority from the intelligence communities who handle classified information and who are typically the ones who say what should and shouldn't be released in terms of keeping the public safe, taking that authority and giving it to a person who has become -- you know, has this political reputation, a lot of even Republicans say that he's been a top defender of the president's, Bill Barr. And that's creating a lot of concern.

And you know, Michael, you just mentioned selectively leaking things out. But if you look at the grander scheme of things, that's already happening, right? Because you're seeing the White House has exerted executive privilege over the entire Mueller report. They're keeping a lot of that information, part of the redacted report, from lawmakers and from the public.

And so what you're seeing right now is the president use his authority to allow some things out, but not others that he thinks could potentially be damaging. Just the things that he thinks, for some reason, could clear him or make him look like the victim in all of this.

BERMAN: Yes, with the right hand, we're going to block the release of everything. And with the left hand, we are going to choose selectively what comes out. Or not.

I mean, Michael, I'm with you. Look, as a journalist, I want to see everything I possibly can. But Jeremy Bash was quoted in one of these pieces. He was the former chief of staff over at the CIA. He said, if you -- if one person is choosing what to declassify, that's selective. You're selectively choosing what to release and what not to release, and that's an awful lot of power.

The third point I'll make, Mike, is that the timing of this, to me, is very interesting. It's the Thursday night of a week where the president has lost some court cases about what information is going to become public. It's the Thursday night of a week where the president has been a little bit beaten up by Nancy Pelosi in the back and forth. It seems to me that this was part of an effort to re-take the offensive.

SMERCONISH: I have no doubt that that's the case. And look, I did word the use "selective." I don't want this to be a selective release. I'm mindful of the fact of what the impact of Bill Barr's four-page letter was. For about a three- or four-week time period, that was the conclusion that was allowed to bake in with the public, relative the Mueller report, that in retrospect, was not the full story. So I totally get this.

I'm simply trying to say, I want to know everything. You know, in similar fashion to wanting to know the origin of the Russian probe. I wanted to know, what were the Russians up to concerning the meddling. And I feel like there are these alternative universes out there of people who never meet somewhere in the middle. So let's get to all of it. I, too, have more confidence in the Horowitz I.G. report than I do what might come from this declassification.

CAMEROTA: Rachael, I want to move on to what we've seen this week between President Trump and Speaker Pelosi and this kind of strange ratcheting up of schoolyard taunts.

Speaker Pelosi has said that the president -- she prays for him. She suggests a family intervention. And she thinks that he suffers from a lack of confidence. I mean, these are just some of the hits. And your great reporting is that this is intentional. This isn't just sort of, you know, off-the-cuff speaking. She's doing this intentionally to upset him? What? That's a curious strategy. Why?

BADE: Think about it. This was a tough week for Pelosi before the headlines, obviously, moved to Trump and Pelosi taunting each other. The speaker had a bit of a headache this week when a lot of her rank- and-file members started pressing her and going public doing so, to say it's time to start impeachment proceedings.

Pelosi feels that this is Trump specifically trying to goad her members to break from her to start impeachment proceedings. She thinks that the president and Trump's allies -- and they have even said this -- think that if the Democrats impeach him, it will backfire and help him in 2020. She was mad. And you know, she -- she had the first comment about the president engaging in a cover-up.