Return to Transcripts main page
Trump On Brexit, Will Happen And Should Happen; Trump Says, It's Foolish For GOP Lawmakers To Fight Mexico Tariffs; House To Vote Next Week On Holding Barr, McGahn In Contempt; Rep Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Tells Democrat Leaders She's Still Opposed To Impeachment. Aired 10- 10:30a ET
Aired June 4, 2019 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In this country.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: Listen, China has sought to erase history with the massacre in Tiananmen Square, and they've had a lot of success to the people who were born since then 30 years ago.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Yes, millennials in China who have never seen coverage over in the country or read about it.
SCIUTTO: A massive effort. Alex Marquardt, Matt Rivers, thanks very much.
HARLOW: Thank you.
Top of the hour here this Tuesday. I'm Jim Sciutto in New York.
HARLOW: I'm Poppy Harlow. The business portion of the President's state visit to Britain is now behind him. He and the First Lady are right now visiting Winston Churchill's underground command center, the so-called war rooms, after a morning spent with U.S. and U.K. business leaders and the soon-to-be former British Prime Minister, Theresa May.
The President and Ms. May just wrapped up a news conference reaffirming what the President called the greatest alliance the world has ever known. They talked a lot about Brexit and a future potential trade deal and future potential Prime Ministers and the U.S.-Mexico border.
On Britain's fitful separation from the European Union, the President is decidedly bullish. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I think it will happen. And I believe the Prime Minister has brought it to a very good point where something will take place in the not too distance future. I think she's done a very good job. I believe it would be good for the country, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SCIUTTO: Not only is the President lavishing praise on a lame duck leader, he is bluntly criticized in the past. He went on to pay her, perhaps, the ultimate compliment while joking he might have taken a different tack regarding negotiations with the E.U.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I would have sued, but that's okay. I would have sued and settled maybe, but you never know. She's probably a better negotiator than I am. But, you know what, she has got it in a sense, John, the deal was teed up. I think that is -- it really teed up. I think they have to do something, and perhaps you won't be given the credit that you deserve if they do something, but I think you deserve a lot of credit. I really do. I think you deserve a lot of credit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: With us now is David Gergen. He's former presidential adviser to four U.S. presidents, Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief of the Toronto Star, and Abby Phillip, CNN White House Correspondent. Thanks to all of you.
David Gergen, with your experience in particular, this was a trip that I don't want to say rife with landmines, but there were some real difficulties, there is tremendous political division in the U.K. over the Brexit question, of course, an outgoing Prime Minister here, but I think you could pronounce it something of a success, at least in terms of highlighting the closeness of the relationship between the U.S. and the U.K., and at least the willingness to try to get over some of the real differences.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I would think this White House would be very pleased with the results so far. This is one of the warmest receptions the President has received anywhere in the world. The issues that they discussed, they seem to be in harmony with the May government and that sort of thing.
At the same time, Jim, of course, there was also a surreal feeling about this press conference. After all, we've got a prime minister now he's lavishing praise on someone who is widely seen as having badly failed in trying to get a deal before leaving the European Union, and a president who is being mocked on the streets of London, is one of the most unpopular presidents in Britain, in my memory. So it's weird.
It's on the surface, I think it's a very positive trip, and the President obviously loved, loved, loved the time with the royals. He did very well with that. So on the surface, this is all between this in light, but underneath, there are some really serious political problems.
HARLOW: Look, she also is on the way out. I mean, Abby Phillip, Theresa May, literally, at the end of this week, will step down as leader of the conservative party. So she doesn't have a political price to pay for showing warmth to President Trump as she did when she made that visit to the U.S. shortly after his election. And there was that moment of sort of an embrace in the rose garden that she took heat for back home, right?
She doesn't have that political price to pay, but she did not hesitate to note where there are significant policy differences between the two, namely on Iran, right, the U.K. staying in the Iran nuclear agreement as the U.S. has yanked itself out, and on the Paris Climate Accord as well.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. And I think Theresa May has been careful to just make the point that even while she wants to work with President Trump, even while she tries to have a good relationship with him, they do have differences. And the United Kingdom remains a sovereign country, where they have their own views on some of these foreign policy issues. And President Trump often in these settings can seem as if he will only take his answer as the answer that he gets from other countries. And I think that she just reiterated that she stood her ground in this relationship. And even President Trump, I think, acknowledged that little bit too.
And to your point, Poppy, this visit was a lot less perilous for her than even the last visit that he did last year when he frankly threw her under the bus. He gave an interview during that visit and criticized her sharply for her handling of Brexit. You know, he -- so much so that he actually apologized to her, which is not something that President Trump does very often.
So they have had some serious ups and downs in this relationship. I think President Trump at the end here seems to be trying to do as little damage as he could to her and to her party in these final days, trying to downplay. You know, he did talk about Boris Johnson. He did talk about the other contenders for her role, but he didn't speak about it as declaratively as he might have in the past. He spoke to Boris Johnson by phone, not in person.
So there have been some small gestures that seem to indicate that President Trump is trying not to do too much damage by delving too deeply into her domestic politics.
SCIUTTO: Daniel Dale, you covered this president for some time and noted the many times when he has said things that aren't backed up by the facts, and of course, he did that in this press conference again, claiming protests that are taking place, as we speak, in London against this president, fairly well attended protests, that they're fake news. Just -- I want to play that comment for you and get your reaction.
(BEGINN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don't see any protests. I did see a small protest today when I came, very small. So a lot of it is fake news, I hate to say. But you saw the people waving the American flag, waving your flag. It was tremendous spirit and love. There was great love. It was an alliance. And I didn't see the protesters until just a little while ago, and it was a very, very small group of people put in for political reasons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Well, in fact, that's not true. But our Nic Robertson, Daniel Dale, has been said that, on purpose, U.K. police have kept those protests at bay to some degree so the President did not see them.
DANIEL DALE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, TORONTO STAR: Yes. So it is true that he hasn't spent much time observing these protests personally. So that's not false. But the suggestion that this is fake news is yet more evidence that the President uses the phrase fake news to mean news that he doesn't like. These protests existed, period.
I think another notable part of that statement was something he slipped in at the end, which is that these protesters were, quote, put in for political purposes. This is sort of a casual conspiracy theorizing we have come to know from Trump and it's a staple of his rhetoric, almost always baseless.
You know, the diversity immigrant visa lottery, foreign countries are putting in their bad apples to dump them on the United States. Mexico and China are sending us drugs. And so he's constantly making these suggestions of a hidden hand behind various phenomena, and there very rarely is a hidden hand.
These, by all accounts, are authentic protests. You know, people in the United Kingdom, many of them don't like Trump. And so there's simply no basis for the claim that these people were put there for some nefarious political purpose.
HARLOW: He also didn't hesitate to lambaste, you know, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. I know they've been (INAUDIBLE) back and forth, but he called him negative and hurting the people of London and also called Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition, the labor party, leader, negative as well.
Let's go to the protest. Let's go to our Nick Paton Walsh, our colleague who's down on the ground in Trafalgar Square. What are they saying?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I've got to tell you the numbers have really far down from what they were about three hours ago. And even then at their peak, they were nothing compared to what we saw a year ago. Yes, it's fair to say they were kept reasonably far away from President Donald Trump, but certainly, I think, he could have heard some of the chants. But, you know, to be straight with you here, we're not seeing numbers we saw a year ago.
Here we have just in the last half an hour or so seen a couple pro- Trump supporters who have periodically been walking into thus substantial crowd of anti-Trump protesters and shouting I love Trump, I love Trump, seemingly trying to ferment some sort of situation. We don't know what sparked it but the police moved in and on two separate occasions moved those individuals out. They both seem to have some kind of milky substance on their rear. I don't know what that initially came from, maybe something was thrown at them. They were moved fast away.
But that is really all we have seen so far today in terms of confrontation, but no doubt, there were thousands, possibly 10,000, it's always hard to tell, protesters out on the streets, nothing like a year ago, but certainly clear in their message, and repeating many of the themes we sought last year. The Trump baby blimp up behind me for a brief period of time, that was up last year, that personally offended Donald Trump. He said so himself.
Actually strangely now, it's become kind of a historical relic of this era. The Museum of London asking for it, and the repost (ph) done by Trump supporters of the London, Sadiq Khan, dressed in a bikini, that was also be flown here too, that's also going to be in the museum here. But, essentially, the message, as it always has been, against what those who dislike Donald Trump here say is his message of Islamophobia, Xenophobia, against certain minorities.
These protests will continue in the background here. Much down on numbers, you can see because of the rain, frankly, always kills the crowds on the streets. Jim, Poppy?
SCIUTTO: Before we go, David Gergen, where does this relationship go from here? Because it was a positive moment, the fact is Theresa May is leaving, and fact is there are very serious issues of negotiation and disagreement between these two allies. What happens next?
GERGEN: Well, there are very serious issues of governance in the U.K., and they have to overcome those before they can engage in broad- scale trade negotiations. But I think the interesting question now, Jim, going forward, the U.K. is coming out of the European Union. We know that's going to happen in October. And it may be a very, very bumpy ride then. And the question is whether the United States is then going to serve as a mediator between the U.K. and the E.U. to keep the overall alliance in good shape, or whether the U.S. will take sides with the U.K. and become further alienated from Germany and France. That would be extremely unhappy.
So I don't think we know yet. I think there are big choices to be made, big decisions to be made. We'll have to see how it unfolds. But do know this. The sweetness and light today was very encouraging, but beneath this, there are serious questions about democratic governance in the U.K. and indeed within the U.S.
HARLOW: Absolutely. And, Abby, just quickly, before we go, he was asked to weigh in on those who could possibly succeed Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt. He said he likes both of them and really sort of stayed away from showing any preference there.
PHILLIP: He did. He could have, I think, said more, but he didn't. I mean, he threw in Michael Groves, another contender, saying he doesn't know him. That's one of the other individuals who we believe that he might seek to meet with. So he's trying to say that he likes them all. And he's not using -- he's not using the word endorsement to describe how he feels about this.
And in a small way, I think sometimes our bar on these things can be quite low, but in a small way, I think that is him heeding what is a pretty clear, which is that it would not be helpful, I think, really to any of them for the President to get too deep into this, and to put his thumb on the scale in a way.
And I think particularly when it comes to Boris Johnson, who is a controversial figure here, I think it would be very controversial if President Trump had said more than he said today and has said over the last several days. But he's been very effusive in his praise.
HARLOW: You're right, he has. Maybe not on that, in front of that lectern, but he has. Abby, thanks so much. David Gergen, we appreciate it, and Daniel Dale. Thank you all.
Republicans in Congress could stage a revolt against the President's new tariff threat against Mexico, which by the way, he just said moments ago is going to happen, and any republican that opposes it is, quote, foolish in the mind of the President. We'll get reaction from Capitol Hill.
SCIUTTO: President Trump while in London sending what sounded like a warning to republicans back home, do not dare to go against him and his plans to slap Mexico with tariffs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What do you think of republicans who say they may take action to block you imposing those tariffs?
TRUMP: No, I don't think they will do that. I think if they do it, it's foolish. There's nothing more important than borders. I've had tremendous republican support.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Joining us now on Capitol Hill, Lauren Fox. This is really interesting because, you know, our reporting is some republicans are talking about this. Are they going to step in here and say the President, the executive branch, overreached? And then you have a bunch of other republicans who say no, he has got to do what he has got to do to stop this flow of undocumented immigrants. The President thinks it's foolish for any republican to think of countering him on this.
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, that's exactly right, Poppy. And, you know, part of the divide here is republicans are just waiting to see exactly how far reaching any executive order or proclamation from the President would be. They don't have that information yet. But like you said, republicans are divided on this. Some republicans, like Lindsey Graham, who is a republican from South Carolina, who has been closely aligned with the President, told my colleague, Alex Rogers, just a few minutes ago, I support exactly what President Trump is doing. Mexico needs to change. They are letting about a million people walk through their door. Then you have people like Pat Roberts who is on the head of the Agriculture Committee in the Senate. He basically is arguing that this is useless, that this tactic from the President is counterproductive.
But republicans are really divided here. They say that they understand the President's frustration with Mexico. But perhaps this isn't the best way to go about it. There's a big meeting today on Capitol Hill where Senate Republicans will meet with officials from the White House and the Justice Department, where the White House is hoping at least that they'll be able to, you know, quell any concerns from republicans on this issue.
Meanwhile, Senate leaders are telling members if they have concerns, they should go directly to President Trump, call him on the phone.
That's what they have done in the past, but you know, a lot still to be worked out today. Poppy?
SCIUTTO: Yes. And we're just getting in that Senator Lindsey Graham, who you mentioned, Lauren, said the following regarding President Trump's tariff plans. I support exactly what President Trump is doing. Mexico needs to change. They're letting about a million people walk through their country.
You know, it's interesting, Lauren, if we just fact check that, Graham using the term a million, the President in his press conference said millions, plural. Do we know where they're getting that high a figure? We know that there are record numbers per month, but millions?
LAUREN: Well, obviously, there's a discrepancy there between what the Senator is saying and what the President is saying. You know, republicans largely on Capitol Hill have been longtime saying that what needs to happen on Capitol Hill is they need to come up with some kind of immigration plan. Of course, we have seen over the past year- and-a-half that any time they get close, the White House scuttles any kind of bipartisan deal on that issue. So a lot still up on the table on what's going to happen on tariffs and, of course, that bigger question of what they can do on the immigration front.
HARLOW: Okay. Lauren Fox, thank you very much.
I also want to note something that could be very big from the Fed Chair, Jerome Powell. He was just making comments, and he talked about the impact of tariffs, trade, et cetera, on the economy. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIR: I'd first like to say a word about recent developments involving trade negotiations and other matters. We do not know how or when these issues will be resolved. We are closely monitoring the implications of these developments for the U.S. economic outlook. And, as always, we will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion with a strong labor market and inflation near our symmetric 2 percent objective.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: All right, that's wonky. Let me tell you why it matters. It matters because he is essentially saying if we have a big trade war with Mexico, that's going to hurt global growth and the Fed may have to cut rates.
SCIUTTO: Well, it's interesting because the President has, of course, been publicly pressuring him to cut rates.
HARLOW: Well, that's exactly what I was thinking. JP Morgan just out with a note this week saying, if the administration follows through on tariffs on Mexico, it's going to be a headwind to global growth, and they believe that the Fed will cut rates by at least 25 basis points.
SCIUTTO: Well, Kevin Hassett from the White House told you that just yesterday, right? He told you there would be, I mean, in more mild terms, but the implications were dangerous to the economy.
HARLOW: But wouldn't it be interesting if that resulted in a Fed rate cut that the President wanted? Okay, for now, for the right reasons.
All right, so one week from today, the House will vote on holding Attorney General Bill Barr and former White House Counsel Don McGahn in contempt of Congress.
SCIUTTO: Meanwhile, sources are telling CNN that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding firm in her position not to begin impeachment proceedings against the President yet. Let's begin with that contempt vote though. CNN's Manu Raju is joining us now from Capitol Hill with the latest.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. Next week, both the former White House Counsel, Don McGahn, and Bill Barr will be held in contempt of the House after they refused to comply with the democrats' subpoena led by the House Judiciary Committee to turn over documents, provide testimony related to the obstruction of justice investigation. And from Barr's case, he did not provide the unredacted Mueller report, the underlying evidence, as democrats have demanded. McGahn, under instruction from the White House, did not comply either.
Now, at the same time, other committees are moving forward with their own efforts to hold individuals in contempt. The House Oversight Committee plans to vote to hold Barr in contempt as well, as well as Wilbur Ross, the Commerce Secretary, over their failure to comply with subpoenas dealing with their probe into the citizenship question that was added to the 2020 census. So you're seeing all these issues starting to get packaged together. We can see the full house vote on a number of people who are not complying with their subpoenas to hold them in contempt.
HARLOW: Manu, give us a sense of what Speaker Pelosi is telling democratic leadership about why she is still really maintaining, even after Mueller spoke last week, the same position on not moving forward right now on impeachment proceedings. How is she explaining that to the caucus?
RAJU: Well, I was told by sources who were in leadership meeting with her last night that she made it clear she's not moving off her opposition to moving forward with an impeachment inquiry, largely because she thinks it's going to fail in the Senate. She told her members, look, a lot of the people who believe that the House will impeach think that the President will automatically be removed from office even though the Senate controlled by republicans would have to convict by a two thirds majority to remove the President. She said people don't seem to realize that. And she even named checked Tom Steyer, who is a billionaire donor, someone who has been pressuring democrats to go the impeachment route.
But I can tell you this morning in talking to democrats, they are deeply divided, some want to move forward with impeachment inquiry, others agreeing with Pelosi.
HARLOW: Yes. They say that, you know, they're united on this, but, clearly, the caucus is divided on it. Manu, thanks.
SCIUTTO: A new poll out, and Joe Biden is still the frontrunner but not by quite as wide a margin as he was before.
We're going to have much more on that just coming up.
SCIUTTO: There's a new CNN poll out this morning relating to 2020, interesting results. Former Vice President Joe Biden still has a substantial lead there, 32 percent to 18 percent over the rest of the democratic field. But the size of that lead has shrunk a bit.
It was 14 percent in April. It is now -- well, it's 14 percent now, it was 24 percent in April. Get my math right there.