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CNN RIGHT NOW
Trump Falsely Claims "No Obstruction" after Mueller Declines to Clear Him of Interfering with Russia Probe; Trump Says Article 2 Gives Me "Powers That You Wouldn't Believe"; Trump Falsely Claims He Can't Be Impeached; Report: White House Wanted "USS McCain" Out of Trump's Sight; How Trump Has Politicized the Military; Rep. Madeleine Dean (D- PA) Discusses Impeaching Trump; Robert Mueller Statement; Mueller Report, Obstruction. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired May 30, 2019 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[13:30:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So he said, essentially, I'm innocent. I'm innocent of all charges.
And, you know, the thing that nobody brings up, there was no crime. They're saying he's obstructing something and there was no crime. And nobody brings it up.
Also, someday, you ought to read a thing called Article II. Read Article II. Which gives the president powers that you wouldn't believe. But I don't even have to rely on Article II. There was no crime. There was no obstruction. There was no collusion. There was no nothing.
And this is from a group of people that hate me. If they only found anything, they would have had it. He knows that better than anybody.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: He didn't say you were innocent.
TRUMP: There was no crime and there was no charge because he had no information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: We're going to play what Mueller said about that.
But, first, I do want to correct my characterization of one of the things I said, which was that -- whether Russia helped him win the election. There was no proof that Russia was able to actually help him win the election, but clearly wanted to. Just to be clear, that has not been able to be proven.
Listen to what Mueller said, really the opposite of what the president said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL: If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.
Under long-standing department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office.
The opinion says the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Can you help break this down for us, because if Robert Mueller is saying, if we had confidence he hadn't committed a crime, is that him saying, we don't have confidence that the president didn't commit a crime because some of this is such legalese, you know?
GLENN KESSLER, EDITOR & CHIEF WRITER, THE FACT CHECKER, WASHINGTON POST: Right, right. There's several parts to that section there. But he was saying we can't clear the president. There's evidence that suggests there was behavior that would be considered criminal.
But at the same time, we, under Justice Department guidelines, cannot charge him with a crime because that's not -- we don't believe that can be done to a president. So, therefore, it's up to Congress to decide whether or not they want to launch impeachment proceedings.
But the -- but he's saying, if he hadn't committed a crime, we would have said so, but we're not going to say so. So he did not clear the president.
KEILAR: Let's talk about his last claim that all of this was one big scam and that he cannot be impeached.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don't see how they can. Because they're -- although I can't imagine the courts allowing it. I have never gotten into it. I never thought that would be possible to use that word. To me, it's a dirty word, the word "impeach." A dirty, filthy, disgusting word. And it had nothing to do with me. So I don't think so because there was no crime.
You know, it's high crimes and, not "with" or "or." It's high crimes and misdemeanors. There was no high crime and there was no misdemeanor. So how do you impeach based on that?
And it came out that there was nothing to do with Russia. The whole thing is a scam. It's a giant presidential harassment. And honestly, I hope it goes down as one of my greatest achievements.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: What do you make of that claim? Also considering you have a database of, how many disproven claims?
KESSLER: Ten thousand.
KEILAR: And he's talked about the courts before.
KESSLER: Right, right. He's suggested that somehow the courts would prevent an impeachment. That's not the way the Constitution works. He was talking about Article II before. I think he needs to study the Constitution a little more carefully.
Impeachment is a process by which Congress removes the president. They can define high crimes and misdemeanors however they want.
In the case of Nixon, the articles of impeachment that were passed had nothing to do with the underlying crime of the break-in. It had to do with Nixon's efforts to cover up the -- the crime, to obstruct justice it, you know, prevent the investigation from going forward.
One of the articles actually had to do with the fact that he wasn't answering subpoenas from Congress.
KESSLER: And you know, right now, the president's administration is not answering dozens of subpoenas.
So if Congress wanted to, they could ignore the whole Russia thing and simply focus on that.
KEILAR: Very interesting.
Glenn Kessler, thank you so much for --
KESSLER: Thank you.
KEILAR: -- coming in and spending so much time with us as we fact- check this.
KESSLER: Your welcome.
KEILAR: What President Trump has to say about a report that the White House asked the "USS McCain" to be out of view during his trip to Japan.
[13:34:45] And the calls for impeachment growing. A number of Democrats, the number is growing.
KEILAR: President Trump says he knew nothing about efforts to keep the "USS John McCain" out of sight during his visit to Japan but he says whoever was behind the decision to hide the destroyer bearing the McCain family name probably meant well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don't know what happened. I wasn't involved. I would not have done that. I was very angry with John McCain because he killed health care. I
was not a big fan of John McCain in any way, shape, or form. I think John McCain had a lot to getting President Bush, a lot to do with it, to go into the Middle East, which was a catastrophe.
To me, John McCain, I wasn't a fan. But I would never do a thing like that.
Now, somebody did it because they thought I didn't like him. OK. And they were well meaning, I will say. I didn't know anything about it. I would never have done that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[13:40:10] KEILAR: Two Navy officials confirmed to CNN that the White House military office communicated with lower-level Navy officials about moving or obscuring the ship ahead of the president's visit. There were actually e-mails about it.
The "Wall Street Journal" reports a tarp was placed over the name because it couldn't be moved because since it was undergoing repairs from a fatal collision.
But one Navy officials tells CNN the tarp was removed before Trump's arrival. And multiple Navy officials say the ship and its name were viewable during the president's visit.
When Navy higherups heard about the plan, they had stopped it.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters that he was not aware of the controversies surrounding "the USS John McCain."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATRICK SHANAHAN, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY (voice-over): I never authorized, I never approved any action around the movement or activity regarding that ship. Furthermore, I would never dishonor the memory of a great American patriot like Senator McCain. I also think it's important that I'd never disrespect the young men and women that crew that ship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: This is just the latest example of the politicization of the military by the president or in his interests.
During the president's trip to Japan, some sailors wore patches on the image with the patches on their uniforms with Trump-like images and the slogan "Make Air Crews Great Again." The Navy is currently investigating that.
And over Christmas, the president visited the troops in Iraq and, instead of just thanking them for what they do and acknowledging that, to do it, they're away from their family on an important holiday, he held a campaign rally railing against Democrats. The Trump administration has sent troops to the U.S. border with
Mexico to enforce had a highly partisan immigration policy. And it issued a memo that allows them to use some force, even though the law is clear, the military is not to engage in domestic law enforcement.
So why are these things a problem? Just ask experts on civil military relations. Sure, these actions are inappropriate. They will also tell you they are dangerous. The Navy, which is stretched so thin on resources and deployments, that many experts think that's to blame for recent fatal accidents, like on the "McCain," at sea, is dedicating manpower to deal with this "USS John McCain" controversy.
As a whole, the president's politicization of the military actually undermines how other countries view U.S. military action abroad. U.S. involvement in conflicts looks like the policy of a minority faction of the U.S. Navy instead of the whole.
The military is supposed to serve America, the Constitution. They are yours, not the president's. If the military is seen as supporting a particular president, then Americans who don't support that president, may not want to serve.
And then it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Then the military is the riff to become weaponized by one party and that's not supposed to happen in America. That's what happens in Venezuela, Iran, China, Russia, North Korea.
And back to the "USS John McCain," the fact that the president never authorized this move to obscure the name of the ship is actually worse than if he did. Because it means that some officials in the Navy are catering to the president's political vendetta against John McCain. It means that not only is the president politicizing the military, the military is politicizing itself.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller suggesting only Congress can hold the president accountable in a crime.
My next guest is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and she says she is ready to act.
[13:43:38] Also, Actor Ashton Kutcher is taking the stand, testifying in the Hollywood Ripper serial killer trial. What he says about the day he discovered his girlfriend was murdered.
[13:48:43:] KEILAR: How will members of Congress respond now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has tossed the ball back in their court? And was this Mueller's last word on the Russia investigation, or will he be subpoenaed to testify before Congress?
We have Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, of Pennsylvania, she's a member of the House Judiciary Committee, joining us now from Philadelphia.
Thanks for being with us.
REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): Thank you. It's a pleasure to be with you, Brianna.
KEILAR: What was your reaction when you heard Robert Mueller speak, and what was the thing that stood out to you the most?
DEAN: I was pleased that he spoke. And what stood out to me was that he chose to speak. We know the behavior of Robert Mueller. He's been very careful to do his duty and to not speak beyond the report.
I believe that if he did not see any Attorney General Barr and all the people around this president, including this president, covering up what actually happened and lying about the contents of this report, he would have gone quietly into his private life. But that he chose to speak, to me, speaks volumes.
I'll play on that word. It speaks to the two volumes that he prepared with 19 other dedicated public servants that revealed many findings that the president is lying about, that Giuliani is lying, that Attorney General Barr has mischaracterized and lying about.
It spoke volumes to me that he chose to speak and to say, remember what happened here. Russia interfered with out elections to the benefit of Trump. The Trump campaign welcomed it and wallowed in it.
[13:50:13] And then when we investigated that, there's ample evidence that the president obstructed justice. Now Congress, it is up to you.
I thought it was powerful that this man, of few public words, chose to speak.
KEILAR: And so when he was saying what he was saying very straightforward, in a sort of a legalese kind of way, I think part of what he didn't say is what was so important. It is very interesting to hear your translation of that in the message that you were taking. So I just want to make that clear.
But I also want to talk about how you had reserved judgment on impeachment. And now you've said enough is enough. Tell us how you got to that point?
DEAN: Well, as you pointed out, I'm a member of the Judiciary Committee and I prize that duty and that role to do both substantive legislation but also the important duties of oversight.
And so you saw the stonewalling and the obstructing of our oversight capacity by this administration directly by this president and his attorney general and his personal counsel.
So when lawful subpoenas to Attorney General Barr for documentation and his presence and testimony were stonewalled and ignored, when lawful subpoenas for McGahn's documents and testimony before our committee were again stonewalled and obstructed, enough is enough.
I don't think that we, as the front line in the work of oversight in the Judiciary Committee, could just sit idly by and allow lawful subpoena after lawful subpoena ignored. We do have to uphold the rule of law. So what I have said to Chairman Nadler and to our leadership is I
believe we should open an impeachment inquiry. That is just a more robust version or robust name and direct name to the oversight that we were already involved in.
KEILAR: Your chairman had previously said he would subpoena Mueller to testify. He has been reticent to -- after hearing from Robert Mueller yesterday, he's been reticent to move forward, or say that he's going to move forward. We don't know exactly where he is on this. Do you want to see the committee subpoena Mueller to testify?
DEAN: I would like to hear the testimony of Robert Mueller, if that comes way of subpoena. I believe he will honor our subpoena and come forward.
But I also take him at his word. He's not going to elaborate or speculate beyond the contents of the report. That is what he said to the American people. Read this report, it speaks for itself, in terms of the criminality and the evidence of criminality by Trump world.
It speaks to the welcoming of Russia's interference in our election. You saw, at the end of the testimony yesterday or statement yesterday, he reminded the American people of the serious problem of Russia's interference in our elections.
So I certainly hope he comes before the committee. They're still in conversation, the chairman and Mr. Mueller's team, as he pivots to private life.
The American people -- and I had a town hall last night to share with you the reaction there. It was a terrific town hall at our local Montgomery County community college. In terrible weather, more than 100 people came.
And very quickly, among the questions was, A, what are you doing substantively about legislation around health care, prescription drug pricing, Social Security, infrastructure, those kinds of things.
But very quickly, came up the question, what are you doing about this president. And when I said to the audience, this is the most indecent president of my lifetime, if not the history of our country, the entire room applauded. They agreed. We have to do address the indecency.
KEILAR: If Robert Mueller isn't going to share anything beyond what is in his report, why, then, do you think it is important to hear from him in person testifying before Congress.
DEAN: Well, I think Americans have busy lives. I don't think everybody is going to have the chance to sit down and read a 448-page dense report with damning information it that is important to the American public. So who better to hear from than -- as I said, the report are his words. It is his testimony.
I think it will help the American people understand exactly what happened here and the extraordinary lengths to which this president went. There's evidence of serious lengths of obstruction of justice by this president.
I think the American people need to have the story painted for them in some ways so that they understand the bad acts that were going on, both on the campaign side, and then in the obstruction side.
The American people are busy. And they need to hear from this public servant, who so faithfully upheld his duty to investigate very serious things.
KEILAR: Congresswoman, thank you so much. Congresswoman Madeleine Dean with us.
DEAN: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
[13:55:05] KEILAR: Just ahead, "Jeopardy" host, Alex Trebek, says he has mind-boggling news about his battle with pancreatic cancer. Hear what doctors are telling him.
Plus, she's known at the world's tiniest surviving baby, weighing less than nine ounces at birth. Hear her amazing story about going home.
[14:00:06] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: You are watching CNN on this Thursday. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me.