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Interview With Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA); Virginia to Hold Special Session on Gun Control; Trump Doubles Down on Mexico Tariff Threat; Trump in London. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired June 4, 2019 - 15:00   ET



KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: In exchange, they gave Prince Philip a monogrammed specialized Air Force One jacket and an autobiography of a British Air Force general who -- of course, Prince Philip has a long and storied history in the military here in the U.K.

And for the queen, they gave her a Tiffany & Co. broach of silver and red silk. And it was encased in a wooden a jewelry box. And the wood, they say, is White House wood. Now, we haven't confirmed it, but we're speculating that perhaps the box was made from wood perhaps from the tree that the queen planted when she was visiting the Bushes in Washington at White House.

Now, that is a stretch. But it is the kind of gift that Melania Trump thinks about, these personalized touchstone moments that usually reflect the friendship between the two countries and have some very personal moments.

She also gave the empress of Japan in that trip last week a pen carved out of wood from a tree on the Harvard University campus because the empress had studied there years ago. So, again, these are the very special, very one-of-a-kind gifts that dignitaries give one another.

And those are also the things that Melania Trump gets very involved with. She works with the State Department on these things. She studies the history of them. She's open to the suggestions she's given from the Protocol Office. And then these things get into play. And there's the gift exchange. And it is a rather serious and important component of the relationship.

When the president and the first lady got their tour yesterday at Buckingham Palace, some of the items that have been given to the queen's through the years, they took that walking tour with the family, a lot of those gifts were things that they had received from other dignitaries, including the president and the first lady.

In their last visit, they were gifted a little sterling silver horse. And that was part of what they saw yesterday, their own gift that they had given. So these things are very, very important. They become part of the historical archives of these of these visits.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Sure. Sure. BENNETT: And I believe that that's sort of what you Melania had in mind.


BENNETT: Long red dress.

BALDWIN: We go from white yesterday to red today. You have clearly done all of your homework on that trip over here to London.

They're making them wait a little while. Why?

BENNETT: I'm sorry, making who -- I'm sorry.


BALDWIN: It just felt they were having to stand there, yes, the president -- yes.


So I think just...

BALDWIN: Oh, there's Prince Charles.

BENNETT: ... in terms of traffic and London and getting in and out -- yes, I was going to say that I think -- here they are arriving.

BALDWIN: Let's listen.

BENNETT: Again, it's the prince.

BALDWIN: And that was the moment we were waiting for. You have Prince Charles and then, of course, his wife, the duchess of Cornwall, Camilla, arriving in the car.

Perhaps traffic, as it is in many big cities, was what it was and the first lady and the president had to wait just a little while and then on they go to this black-tie. This is the reciprocal dinner, reciprocal, as in this is the way that the first family reciprocates back to the royal family for hosting them for this state visit there in London.

Kate Bennett, thank you very much.

President Trump also talking British politics today, as his counterpart, the prime minister, Theresa May, prepares to step down. At their final joint news conference this morning, the two leaders complimented one another, while paying tribute to the historic bond between their two countries.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Prime Minister May, it's been a true honor. I have greatly enjoyed working with you. You are a tremendous professional and a person that loves your country dearly.

Thank you very much. Really an honor.

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: For the past two-and-a-half years, the president and I have had the duty and privilege of being the latest guardians of this precious and profound friendship between our countries.

As with our predecessors, when we have faced threats to the security of our citizens and our allies, we have stood together and acted together.


BALDWIN: Kate Andrews is the associate director of the Institute of Economic Affairs and a U.S. political columnist. Peter Nicholas is the White House report for "The Atlantic."


So, good to see both of you there in London.

And, Peter, let me begin with you because you were in the room today for that joint news conference, where the president was quite complimentary of the P.M., after insulting her about Brexit just a year ago.

So were you surprised by a kinder, and, dare I say, more deferential President Trump?


I think we saw the president on his best behavior today, because, before the trip, he gave an interview to the British press where he was pretty critical of Theresa May. And he said that she had mishandled the Brexit situation, and he would have done it differently.

He's been critical over in the past. He's tweeted negative things about her. But at this press conference, which happens just a few days before she formally steps down, he could not have been more gracious towards her. And he kind of elided their differences.

He said, yes, he would have done Brexit differently. Maybe he would have sued the E.U., perhaps gotten a settlement. But it was all done in kind of a light, bantering tone, which she no doubt appreciated.

So, there was some question about whether he was going to take one last dig at her before she leaves office, but he really didn't do that. He was the gracious guest today.

BALDWIN: Saying that she was perhaps a better negotiator, this coming from Mr. Art of the Deal.

I mean, Kate, how did this land with the Brits, this exchange? KATE ANDREWS, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE OF ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: It was definitely noted how polite he was, considering that when he was touching down in London, he was tweeting out real criticisms of London's mayor, Sadiq Khan. They have had a bit of a back and forth this week.

And having been so critical of the prime minister before and having said that she was blowing an opportunity to get a free trade deal with the USA, this was a real change in tone. He was extremely polite. He recognized the hard work that she's put in. Agree with her or disagree with her on the Brexit views and the path that she's pursued, it was the kind of language you would expect from a U.S. president to a prime minister.

It does seem so far that the special relationship has very much held intact with Donald Trump in the Oval Office, and depending on who the next Tory leader is, we see an even closer relationship. He has suggested that people like Boris Johnson, a potential candidate, are people he would very much like to work with.

BALDWIN: You took the words right out of my mouth, I mean, the fact that he extended an invitation for a meeting to Boris Johnson, who could become the next prime minister.

Johnson said no. He has met with Nigel Farage. President Trump continues to insert himself in U.K. politics, which just want to remind everyone, Peter, this is not typical behavior for a U.S. president.


BALDWIN: The term special relationship was first coined by Winston Churchill back in the 1940s.

What did Trump's words and actions mean for that relationship today?

NICHOLAS: Well, Trump's instinct is to meddle, frankly, in British politics. I mean, he obviously has a horse in the race, and that's Boris Johnson. I mean, that's the candidate he likes.

And Johnson is of a conservative, pro-Brexit temperament that appeals to Trump. And I think the relationship, if Johnson were prime minister, would be even more special than it is today.

But why this is dangerous for American presidents to do this is because, what if Johnson doesn't win? What if there's another candidate who emerges? And then Trump has already shown that he's partial to Johnson and not that winner, and that makes relationships more difficult.

So the advice that Trump got from his own staff before leaving for this trip was really to stay out of it, to not get too deeply involved. But as students of Trump that we all are, it's just impossible for him to resist that temptation.

BALDWIN: And when he was asked about the protests, Kate, right -- we talked to the woman who was one of the women behind that big baby blimp -- he called it all fake news.

And the truth is, they happened. We saw the blimp. We have seen the signs, the chants, the whistles. We just heard the loud -- the big horn over the two of them over at Winfield House.

So, organizers say there were fewer people then in 2018, 75,000, instead of more than 100,000, but still, Kate they turned out for the second straight year.

ANDREWS: They did. There was certainly a movement in London today. The blimp was back in action.

I have to say it all seemed in good spirits, very much part of the democratic process and in line with the free society here in the U.K. and also represented in the USA. It's part of a healthy society to be able to protest in this way.

It was definitely smaller. Many people will probably feel like one time was enough. They made their statement. And -- but also I think this trip was bigger for the president. He had an actual state visit, had the opportunity to go through many of those ceremonies that are so treasured I think by people in the U.K. and the USA.

And to a quick point about the meddling, I agree that Donald Trump picking a favorite to be the next prime minister definitely has its dangers. But we can't forget that President Obama did something similar when he came over in 2016 and made comments about the U.S. being at the back of the queue for a free trade deal if they decided to Brexit.



ANDREWS: And that went down quite poorly as well.

In general here in Britain, they don't really like hearing U.S. presidents weigh in on a democratic decision, whether that be Brexit or electing the next leader.

BALDWIN: Right, whether that be Barack Obama or Donald Trump. I'm so glad you brought that up.

Kate Andrews and Peter Nicholas, thank you both very much.

And perhaps the biggest headline domestically from that news conference, President Trump standing there doubling down on his threats to slap tariffs on Mexico, unless they help curb illegal immigration. The president says the tariffs will go into effect next week.

But he's reportedly already getting pushback from members of his own party. Republican lawmakers are talking about blocking the tariffs, which could, in turn, block billions of dollars in border wall funding.

Just remember, the wall is President Trump's number one campaign promise. Here's how he's responding to those concerns.


QUESTION: And what do you think of Republicans who say that they may take action to block you imposing those tariffs?

TRUMP: Oh, I don't think they will do that. I think, if they did, it's foolish.


BALDWIN: Foolish, he says.

Sunlen Serfaty is our correspondent up on Capitol Hill.

And so he says foolish. What are lawmakers saying?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Republicans up here on Capitol Hill, Brooke, Senate Republicans especially, are very concerned about this. And they do not like it. They don't want the tariffs to go forward. They don't like the policy.

And they certainly don't like this new threat from President Trump today. And they essentially told the White House so in this closed- door meeting that's just wrapping up on Capitol Hill at this hour. Senate Republicans huddled with members of the White House, members of the DOJ who came up here to brief them about this potential move.

And Republicans leaving that meeting said that the officials basically were laying out what they saw as their legal arguments, what their authority would be to potentially make this move and impose these tariffs.

And very clear Republicans leaving that meaning are essentially trying to line up their response, what Congress can do to potentially block the president, block the tariffs from going forward.

And many Republicans today essentially saying that they gave White House officials an earful about what they think about these tariffs. Senator Portman, he's very against the tariffs, and he said there was no one in the room that did not express concern today. Here's more of what he told me.


SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R-OH): This time, the vote won't be on shifting resources that have been appropriated from one account to another, in that case, from military construction to a border fence or wall. This time, it will be about whether to impose tariffs, which for many of us Republicans is about increasing taxes, and specifically on consumers, and also the retaliation that is likely to come from Mexico, which would affect our farmers and our workers and our service providers.

So it's a tough vote. And my hope is, we can avoid that by working something out even over the next couple of days.


SERFATY: Now, Senator Portman going a few steps ahead, basically saying, Brooke, that this potentially if it goes forward sets up a very hard vote, where you potentially have a lot of Republicans up here on Capitol Hill having to vote against and move against the president's move on tariffs to try to alleviate that.

And, certainly, Portman and many other Republicans up here hoping and holding their breath to see if tomorrow's big meeting between the U.S. and Mexico will potentially resolve a lot of these issues. It certainly takes them out of the hot seat if it does, but no indication it will -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: We will talk about that tomorrow. Sunlen, thank you very much.

Meanwhile, with this threat of tariffs, some American business owners in Arizona are afraid they will lose millions, millions of dollars as a result of President Trump's move.

Vanessa Yurkevich is live in Nogales, Arizona.

And, Vanessa, you have been talking to some food importers who could be affected. And what are they sharing with you?


Well, today, they have been meeting on this very issue, business leader leaders here in Nogales, Arizona, preparing for how they make tackle these tariffs, which they're calling unprecedented.

Many of these importers rely exclusively on trade with Mexico through this port right behind me. And they say, if these tariffs go into effect, each business could be affected by millions of dollars.


YURKEVICH (voice over): This month, Jaime Chamberlain is expecting truckloads full of grapes from Mexico. But he wasn't expecting to pay tariffs.

JAIME CHAMBERLAIN, PRESIDENT, CHAMBERLAIN DISTRIBUTING: So 5 percent for now is absolutely horrible. Going to 10, 15 percent, 20 percent, I can't even -- I can't even imagine.

YURKEVICH: Chamberlain imports 100 percent of his fruits and vegetables from Mexico to his warehouse in Nogales, Arizona. If the president's tariffs take effect next week...

CHAMBERLAIN: We have red peppers coming out of Sinaloa.

YURKEVICH: ... Chamberlain, who voted for Trump, will pay more to bring his produce across the border.

CHAMBERLAIN: These are not good ideas and this is not the way I would do things. But this is the way the president is choosing to do things because of the Congress that we have. You know, I'm not always going to be on the side of the president.


YURKEVICH: The U.S. imports $26 billion of agricultural products from Mexico each year, and manufacturing dwarfs that.

RICHARD RUBIN, PRESIDENT, JAVID LLC: We're shipping $450 million annually across the border. For my customers to pay an extra $100 million, I'm not sure that they're going to stick around.

YURKEVICH: Richard Rubin owns 26 factories in Mexico, importing materials for American companies which he says provides millions of U.S. jobs.

RUBIN: Mexico is our friend, right? Mexico deserves the respect and the dignity. It's not a business, it's a country. And this should be solved through diplomacy.

YURKEVICH: Guillermo Valencia brokers trade deals between U.S. and Mexican companies.

GUILLERMO VALENCIA, PRESIDENT, VALENCIA INTERNATIONAL: We're throwing punches in the dark because we don't know what to expect. We know that we have to take this president serious. Some people are saying he's just threatening. But we can't just assume he's just threatening.

YURKEVICH: As the broker, Valencia ensures tariffs are paid. His company imports and exports products to Mexico.

VALENCIA: This is a component for a major U.S. manufacture that's producing electric cars.

YURKEVICH (on camera): So this could be in someone's back seat one day?

VALENCIA: Absolute -- it will be in someone's back seat one day. So if you haven't bought this car yet, there's going to be an increased cost to this car.

YURKEVICH: Because of the tariffs?

VALENCIA: Because of the tariffs, right. And it could be up to 25 percent. And it could be more because if this product went back and through a couple of times, depending on the amount of times, it could be 50, 70 percent. Tariff, upon tariff, upon tariff, upon tariff.


YURKEVICH: Everyone we have spoken to here it says one thing is clear. The extra costs will get passed down to the American consumer. So that means things like your refrigerator, your car, and even beer could cost more -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Even beer, you say.

Vanessa Yurkevich, thank you very much.

She knows everything and was there from the start of the campaign to the Oval Office. And, today, Hope Hicks is defying a subpoena from Congress at the direction of the White House.

Plus, Virginia's governor is calling a special session on gun control after the workplace shooting that killed 12 people in Virginia Beach.

And some Democratic lawmakers say they have set a new threshold for supporting impeachment, and it's tied to whether special counsel Robert Mueller testifies.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.



BALDWIN: Today, the governor of Virginia says that he will be seeking -- quote -- "votes and laws, not just thoughts and prayers," as he announced he's calling a special legislative session in the wake of Friday's mass shooting in Virginia Beach.

A city employee murdered 12 people at the Municipal Center. And it's not still clear why. The rampage is the third in the nation that we have witnessed in the last five weeks alone. And now a new federal law hopes to make an impact on American gun violence.

In the last hour, Georgia Congresswoman Lucy McBath announced her new bill called the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act. This bill mimics a Senate bill introduced last year that would allow law enforcement to remove guns from individuals deemed an extreme risk to themselves or others.

Congresswoman McBath became a gun control activist after her son Jordan Davis was killed in 2012 by a shooter who complained about loud music.

And Congresswoman Lucy McBath of Georgia is with me now.

Congresswoman, welcome back.

REP. LUCY MCBATH (D-GA): Thank you, Brooke. It's always so good to be with you.

BALDWIN: So, you tell me, how would this work? Let's say -- let's use an example. Let's say there's an individual who is showing signs of extreme violence, and perhaps a family member or a co-worker is concerned.

If the bill becomes law, what could that person do?

MCBATH: Well, basically, it empowers the family members, along with law enforcement and also the judge, to determine, ascertain whether or not this individual, the loved one, poses an extreme risk to the themselves or to the community. Most definitely, if a person is suicidal, this also gives the family

and the law enforcement and the judge the ability to determine whether or not this person is extremely that -- I mean, that much of a risk.

So what it does is, it puts in checks and balances...


MCBATH: ... allowing families to be able to really advocate for their loved ones.


We know that, over on the Senate side, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal are saying first it would give law enforcement 14 days to remove the guns. So, in your bill, what's the time frame, because I know, in some of these cases, they need to be removed immediately?

MCBATH: Well, it's basically the same language, Brooke, that...

BALDWIN: Fourteen days?

MCBATH: Fourteen days.

It's basically the same language. But there again, I also want it known too that we want to make sure that we're looking at the behavioral risks that are assessed as well in my bill, making sure that we're looking at the behavioral risks, such as people that might be domestic abusers, or people that might be suicidal.


I mean, those kinds of risks need to be determined as well. I think this is a far more organic way to making sure that those individuals that are exhibiting these kinds of dangerous or risky behaviors, that we're determining for them whether or not they should have access to guns.

BALDWIN: Now, I know, for example, in California, the first state to have a law similar to this, the red flag law, for example, that the firearms can then be removed for up to a year.

With your proposal, how long could someone's guns be taken away? And how could he or she fight to get them back?

MCBATH: Well, basically, that would be determined by the judge and this group of individuals ascertaining or making those decisions.

And so it would be -- it would vary basically from case to case.

BALDWIN: Vary from case to case, meaning could be gone for weeks, months, a year? Would there be a cap at a year?

MCBATH: Exactly. I guess I would advocate a cap at a year.


I want to move on. Just the White House has directed former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson, a former deputy White House counsel, not to turn over documents to the House Judiciary Committee, of which you are a member.

How will your committee respond to that, another example of stonewalling from this White House?

MCBATH: Well, of course, we have been very dissatisfied with the lack of information that's being disbursed to us.

But, of course, our job in congressional oversight is to get as much information as we possibly can -- we possibly can. We will continue the process. This is a process, getting the redacted information, getting as much of the resource information from other investigators that we're also tasked with getting the information.

So we will continue the process. There's always a process to get the end result that is desired. We want to make sure that we -- nothing falls through the cracks. We want to make sure that there are no loopholes, because the American people deserve to have access to all of the information. And so that's what we're tasked to do.

And then we will continue to do that.

BALDWIN: Speaking of things that are a process, Congressman McBath, impeachment, I have to ask you, because we now -- by CNN's count, there are 59 House Democrats now in favor of impeachment. You are not one of them.

I know Representative Ruben Gallego said that if Robert Mueller doesn't testify, for example, then that would be the breaking point for him and others to call for impeachment.

Would that be the breaking point for you?

MCBATH: Well, I can't honestly tell you what my breaking point will be.

But, once again, I want to make sure that we have done everything that we possibly can to get access to the information. And, at the end of the day, as I said before, let the chips fall where they may.

But I just want to make sure that there are no loopholes, there are no gotchas. I want to make sure that we use all of the tools and resources that we have been given for congressional oversight to really get to the truth.

And that means that subpoenas that have already been submitted, bringing forth those individuals that we need to have to testify. That still has not happened yet. So let's follow the process. Let's make sure that we're bringing people...

BALDWIN: But the White House keeps fighting it. The White House keeps fighting it.

MCBATH: I know the White House keeps fighting it, but we -- our responsibility and accountability is still to keep trying to get the information at all costs.

BALDWIN: OK, Congresswoman Lucy McBath, good to see you. Thank you very much.

MCBATH: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Just in to CNN, we are getting word that a former resource officer during the Parkland school shooting has just been charged for his actions in response to the attack.

Stand by.