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Poll on Impeachment; Kushner Defends Trump on Racism; Estranged Husband of Connecticut Missing Mom Arrested; Remembering Victims of Virginia Beach. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 3, 2019 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Lockhart, former Clinton White House press secretary and CNN political commentator, and John Avlon, CNN's senior political analyst.

It just so happens we have some new numbers which show where the American people are on impeachment. Forty-one percent now say they favor impeachment, 54 percent against. That's slightly up, John, since April. A slight change. Not huge, but maybe some movement.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: There seems to be some movement. What's really extraordinary is that the number of -- percentage of people who want him impeached is almost equivalent to his job approval rating. I mean this is a deeply polarizing president and country.

The problem is, is when you dig into those numbers. Seventy-six percent of Democrats, but only 35 percent of independents and 6 percent of Republicans. But unless that independent number goes up significantly, it's a non-starter in national politics. So while Democratic presidential candidates are going to feel a lot of pressure from the base, it doesn't reflect where the majority of the country is.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So, is Nancy Pelosi watching those polls?


CAMEROTA: But, I mean, if she's watching the polls and they're going to decide on the polls, what about what they keep saying, that they think it's their duty --

LOCKHART: No, that --

CAMEROTA: That it's Congress' duty to have oversight and it's Congress' duty --


CAMEROTA: To keep the president to be -- you know, held accountable. So if they're watching the polls then --

LOCKHART: There's a difference between watching the polls and deciding on the polls. She's not deciding on the polls. I think what she -- her view is, that more has to happen, more has to

come out. They have to build this public case. And there has to be -- that independent number has to move. And that Republican number has to start to move. And the way you do that is you bring Don McGahn. You bring Robert Mueller up to The Hill, have -- have a hearing. So right now the real action is in court, whether these things are going to get compelled or not.

I think the rub for her, and time is on her side right now, will be if the courts send the signal that unless they have an impeachment proceeding open, they won't compel these people to do those things. Then she'll have a very tough decision. My guess is she'll go forward with it then, but not until then. It's -- there's no reason to go politically. And, again, the Constitution is written in a way where it says this should be a political decision.

And the last -- the last point I'd make is, you know, if -- if they had focused in 2018 on Mueller and on impeachment, they'd be in the minority right now and none of this would be happening. So the politics actually -- saying politics are involved is bad, is not actually accurate.

BERMAN: All right, there was an extraordinary interview that Jared Kushner, who happens to be the president's son-in-law and a White House senior adviser did over the last week and it was with Jonathan Swan of "Axios." There -- there's a bunch of it that's getting a lot of play. I want to start with the issue of racism where Jonathan Swan really pressed Kushner on whether or not the president is a racist. And initially Kushner said no, no, no, he hasn't been racist his whole life, how could he be racist now. And then Jonathan Swan came back to him with the idea of birtherism. Listen.


JONATHAN SWAN, "AXIOS": Was birtherism racist?

JARED KUSHNER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: Look, I wasn't really involved in that.

SWAN: I know you weren't. Was it racist?

KUSHNER: Like I said, I -- I wasn't involved in that.

SWAN: I know you weren't.

KUSHNER: Uh-huh.

SWAN: Was it racist?

KUSHNER: Look, I know who the president is and I have not seen anything in him that is racist. So, again, I was not involved in that.

SWAN: Did you wish he didn't do that?

KUSHNER: Like I said, I was not involved in that. That was a long time ago. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Four times I was not involved with that, John.

AVLON: Yes, doesn't make it go away. It -- that is extraordinary because you could read that as a, yes, it was racist, but I can't say that because he's not only the president but my father-in-law.

CAMEROTA: How else can we read it? I mean the fact that he didn't -- he never said, no that wasn't --

AVLON: Because I think that gives him too much credit for the repeated dodge and unwillingness to confront the question from a position of conscience.

CAMEROTA: So -- but, I mean, nevertheless, he couldn't answer it, which I think is telling because sometimes people in the White House -- we hear it sometimes from Sarah Sanders and others, they adopt the president's language, they adopt the president's viewpoint. And the fact that Jared Kushner didn't say no, no, that wasn't racist, the president was --

AVLON: Some things --

CAMEROTA: Or Donald Trump was just confused about whether Barack Obama was born.

AVLON: Yes, I --

CAMEROTA: He didn't even try -- attempt to do that.

AVLON: I think some things are too sickening to swallow, even for the (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: I guess, with him, I also heard him trying to protect his legacy somehow. Like -- like the --

AVLON: Sure.

BERMAN: The Jared Kushner legacy needs to be separate from birtherism. I'm not going to touch this at all.

AVLON: Yes, it's going to be very tough to separate the Kushner and Trump legacies. I think that train has sailed.

BERMAN: All right, Joe, go ahead.

CAMEROTA: I think you're mixing metaphors.

AVLON: Intentionally.

LOCKHART: Yes. I do think it underlines one of the extraordinary parts of this administration, which is they don't subject themselves to daily briefings where these questions are going to -- they do -- the president does things on the fly when there's 15 reporters all jostling and yelling questions, he picks the ones they want. And the president will only sit down with people who work for Fox. The president would have the same problem Jared Kushner had if he was pushed. He's never pushed because he's able to manipulate the media in a way where he just picks and chooses and never gets the follow-up. So --

[08:35:05] BERMAN: Let's --


BERMAN: Let's -- he was pushed on another thing, too, here.


BERMAN: Jared Kushner was asked directly about the Trump Tower meeting where Donald Trump Junior was promised dirt from the Russians on Hillary Clinton. Jared Kushner was invited by e-mail to that meeting and went. This is the exchange.


JONATHAN SWAN, "AXIOS": Does it not set off at least some alarm bell when you see an e-mail saying that the Russian government wants to help the campaign.

JARED KUSHNER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: Like I -- like I said, the e-mail that I got on my iPhone at the time basically said, show up at 4:00. I didn't scroll down. I never would have thought about that --

SWAN: It had Russia in the -- in the subject line.

KUSHNER: Again, I would get about 250 e-mails a day. And so I literally saw, show up at 4:00. I showed up at 4:00. But --

SWAN: Would you call the FBI if it happened again?

KUSHNER: I don't know. It's hard to do hypotheticals. But the reality is, is that we were not given anything that was salacious.


BERMAN: To which he was disappointed.

AVLON: Yes. Yes.

BERMAN: He was disappointed at the time they were not given anything salacious, but his answer, John?

AVLON: The stunner there is, I don't know. Zero percent learning curve whether he would raise it to the FBI knowing what he's known now, what the country has gone through, because, at the end of the day, he still sees the entire investigation as apparently kind of a hassle that wasn't really relevant and they were apparently so numb to outreach from the Russians that it wasn't particularly notable.

CAMEROTA: Hard to do hypothetical. This was a real scenario, actually. LOCKHART: Yes, you know, it's -- I remember the Twinkie defense. We

now have the, I didn't scroll down defense. There's always something new.

But, you're right, it was not a hypothetical. He said -- whether he knew what he was going into or not, let's give him credit for that. He sat in a meeting where a bunch of Russians talked about getting dirt to help his father-in-law defeat Hillary Clinton. And he didn't think to pick up the phone and call someone and call the FBI.

CAMEROTA: And he doesn't know if he'd do it again.

LOCKHART: And he doesn't know if he'd do it again.

AVLON: That's the -- that's the --

LOCKHART: Because he doesn't think it was wrong. The president doesn't think it is wrong. Donald Trump Junior doesn't think it is wrong. That says it all.

BERMAN: The last line of Robert Mueller's news conference, you know, we were attacked by the Russians. That's the important thing here.


BERMAN: Joe Lockhart, John Avlon, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Gentlemen, thank you very much.

Now to this story. The estranged husband of a Connecticut missing mom has been arrested, along with someone else. All this is connected to her disappearance. She's a mom of five and we are getting new information from a CNN affiliate about why she feared him.

So CNN's Jason Carroll is live in Norwalk, Connecticut, with more.

Tell us about this mystery, Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, a lot of developments in this case. It turns out that Jennifer Dulos had warned officials about her estranged husband. In court documents, she said that he was dangerous, that he might retaliate against her, that he had purchased a gun and that he had revenge fantasies about harming people.


CARROLL (voice over): Last night parishioners filled St. Mark's Episcopal Church with their prayers for Jennifer Dulos, the mother of five has been missing now for more than a week.

AARON COOPER, HEAD, NEW CANAAN COUNTRY SCHOOL: As a community that shares a set of common values, we're heartbroken, and yet we stand together.

CARROLL: Attention focused on these two, her estranged husband, 51- year-old Fotis Dulos and 44-year-old Michelle Troconis, both now under arrest and charged with tampering with or fabricating physical evidence and hindering prosecution. The two taken into custody on Saturday. They have not been charged in her disappearance.

Jennifer lived with her five children at this home in New Canaan, Connecticut. Police pushing back on reports of evidence connected to the case found at the home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was nothing found and they're just continuing with their ongoing investigation. I cannot -- that's obviously state PD (ph) ongoing investigation so I can't comment at this moment.

CARROLL: Jennifer was last seen on May 24th while dropping off her children at school. Police later found the black Chevrolet Suburban she had been driving. Court records show Jennifer Dulos filed for divorce in 2017. A hearing in that case was scheduled for this Wednesday.

Police have been searching throughout the area since her disappearance. Her friends and family say she is a devoted mother who would never disappear and leave her children.


CARROLL: And a little bit more about what Jennifer Dulos said in court documents about her estranged husband. Let me read part of it to you, John. It says, I know that filing for divorce and filing this motion will enrage him, again referring to her estranged husband. I know he will retaliate by trying to harm me in some way.

Her estranged husband and his girlfriend will be appearing here in court later this morning. Investigators expect more charges to be brought forth at a later time.


BERMAN: All right, Jason, please keep us posted on that troubling story.

Here's what to watch today.


ON SCREEN TEXT: 10:00 a.m. ET, SCOTUS issues opinions.

2:00 p.m. ET, Buttigieg California meet and greet.

2:40 p.m. ET, Trump U.K. state banquet.


[08:40:22] CAMEROTA: All right, 12 people were murdered at a government office building in Virginia Beach. What was the motive? One of the co-workers, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CAMEROTA: Hundreds of people in Virginia Beach coming together to remember the 12 victims killed in Friday's massacre at a government office building. One of those victims was Richard Nettleton. He was the shooter's boss. CNN has learned that hours before the attack, the gunman handed in his resignation to Nettleton. But police have not figured out a motive.

Joining us now is Bob Sciacchitano. He's Nettleton's long-time friend. Also with us is Robert Cameron, an associate pastor at Wave Church, who's visited victims at the hospital.

[08:45:00] Gentlemen, thank you both so much for being here.

What a -- what a horror, what a mystery since police have not figured out what was going on with this gunman.

And, Bob, I don't want to talk much about the gunman, other than to ask you if you knew him because you had worked with Richard, one of the victims. Did you know the gunman at all?

BOB SCIACCHITANO, FRIEND OF SHOOTING VICTIM RICHARD NETTLETON: I knew him a little bit. We worked on a program together for the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission and he was on one of the committees that I served on. It's been five years, though, since I've seen him.

CAMEROTA: Well, I know that's a long time, but any -- I mean only because there's no motive and this seems to be a real mystery for police, were there any sort of personality red flags or anything that you saw when you worked with him?

SCIACCHITANO: Not to me, no.

CAMEROTA: Tell us about your friend, Richard Nettleton.

SCIACCHITANO: Richard I guess was -- when I started out in this profession as a professional engineer, I had a certain image of what a professional engineer should be. And that was really rich. He was somebody who was very comprehensive, soft spoken. He thought things through. He was a good mentor to others and he was a good friend.

CAMEROTA: You said that he was the perfect public servant. How so?

SCIACCHITANO: Yes. Well, he always strived to find the best solutions to the problems to make the best use -- optimize the use of public funds, and he looked for ways of making projects last as long as they could. He was very efficient in that manner. He had the personality that would deal with the public, I think, very well. He never really got upset. And, we just -- like I said, he was -- he was a good friend. We had a great relationship.

CAMEROTA: I'm so sorry for your loss and for the loss of this man who you describe as being so helpful to people around him.

So, Pastor Robert, I know you had an opportunity to go to the hospital where some of the family members of the victims are sort of sitting vigil. And what did you tell them when you got there? ROBERT CAMERON, ASSOCIATE PASTOR, WAVE CHURCH: Well, my -- what we do

is we go and give them hope. These things happen, tragedies happen, but there is a hope. And, of course, our focus in our faith. So we -- I went down and just talked to the family, sat with the family and prayed with the family.

CAMEROTA: Final note, pastor. I think that after we've lived through so many mass shootings in this country in the past, I don't know, call it whatever you want, 15 years, it's hard to still have hope.

CAMERON: Is it. It is hard, but hope is there. And I often use the expression, God comes on strongest when you need him the most. And certainly as I prayed for those people, those families the other night, you could feel the presence of God in that room.

CAMEROTA: And how did they receive your message?

CAMERON: They received it well. You'll find that people in those situations, they're open to faith, they're open to prayer, they're open to that encouragement and comfort. And that's what we give.

CAMEROTA: Bob, it's very horrible obviously when something like this happens. It's also so frustrating and vexing when there's no sign, when there's no note, when there's no anything for police to hang on to at the moment that they're sharing with us of why this would happen. How do you make sense of why this gunman would go in and open fire and kill 12 of his co-workers?

CAMERON: Yes. It doesn't make sense to me. I know a few people that have met him and knew him, like Bob, and he was not that kind of person. Something snapped, obviously. But it happens. These things happen on a daily basis. And we've just get round about -- circle the wagons, get around the families and let them know we are there for them, we are there to help them and we are there to bring that help that I'm talking about.

CAMEROTA: And, Bob, what about you? What do you think happened here?

SCIACCHITANO: I really don't know. Like I said, it's been five years since I last saw the shooter. And I didn't really know him that well at the time anyway. I understand that maybe things have happened in the last five years. You know, people change. And, you'd have to go back and take a look at what's happened to his -- in his life recently. I don't know.


Well, three city officials say that the gunman recently cracked. That's their word. But, again, we don't have any information about what caused that or what that looked like. But, Bob, we appreciate you telling us about Richard Nettleton and why he was such a dear friend to you. I know you said it was really hard for you to watch the Red Sox/Yankees game without him.

[08:50:10] SCIACCHITANO: That's right. But I'd just like to say, you know, please pray for his wife Sarah. She's -- she needs all the help she can get right now.

CAMEROTA: Thank you for that message and for sharing your personal friendship, your long, 25-year friendship with him.

And Pastor Robert Cameron, thank you for your words of hope. We appreciate talking to both of you this morning.

CAMERON: Thank you, Alisyn.


CAMEROTA: "The Good Stuff," next.


BERMAN: It is time now for "The Good Stuff."

An Illinois woman is taking time out to help flood victims. Adrianna Plott (ph) lost everything in floods back in 2008. Now she wants to help others who are facing exactly what she went through. So, what is she doing? She's spending countless hours shoveling sand for area levees.

[08:55:06] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I definitely feel for the families that are going through it again. And you really want to just give everything you can to help them out.


BERMAN: Plott says helping people makes her feel good and says she has learned one big lesson.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not to take anything for granted. You never know what you're going to have, but you also never know how fast you're going to lose it.


BERMAN: Good for her. And there's such a need right now with all these floods affecting so many states.

CAMEROTA: What an angel because, I mean, obviously, she could have been traumatized by her loss in the floods, but she is going back to that same scenario to help other people. And it's not easy to get in there and start digging. That is wonderful.

All right, President Trump's meeting with Queen Elizabeth after attacking London's mayor and calling Prince Harry's life nasty, well, it's going to be a complicated day. CNN live coverage continues next.