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President Trump Makes State Visit to U.K.; President Trump and Outgoing U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May Meet about Possible Trade Deal Post-Brexit; London Mayor Sadiq Khan Writes Op-Ed Criticizing President Trump; Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) is Interviewed About New Hearings On Mueller Report and Antitrust Probe of Big Tech. Aired 8- 8:30a ET
Aired June 4, 2019 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Let me read it to you again. Here is the source, Trump called Boris Johnson and offered a one-to- one meeting. The call was friendly and productive. It lasted about 20 minutes. Boris thanked him but declined the invitation as he had to focus on the Hustings event that was happening at the same time as the One Nation meeting today. Johnson said he looked forward to catching up with the president at a later date."
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Translate, this is probably not so great for me to have a meeting with you, Mr. President, as much as I adore you and welcome your almost endorsement endorsement before you came over here. There's no other way to see that. And it's probably really smart politics for Boris Johnson, maybe a little bit surprising given -- for the president -- given where the president has perceived the politics in Great Britain given the fact that he -- give him credit -- predicted Brexit would pass way back when. It did, and he kind of got the feeling that the winds were going the same way there with his brand of politics and worldview as they had been here.
And I don't know, maybe things are changing, or maybe it's just so volatile that Boris Johnson said, you know what, let me just do this on my own.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I want to bring back in Clarissa Ward, our senior international correspondent, who of course has spoken to Sadiq Khan the London mayor. But first, Clarissa, just to get your take on this, because this is a significant development. And, again, ITV is reporting here if in fact the president offered to meet with Boris Johnson but Boris rejected him, I imagine that could come up with a press conference a little bit too, and the president might have a little bit of a different take on it.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, Boris Johnson has a lot of different criteria that he needs to keep in mind here. On the one hand, of course, he has a base of support, particularly among the arch Brexiteers who might welcome an endorsement from President Trump, but there are plenty of people in the U.K., John, who would not welcome such an endorsement. And so it becomes almost a little bit of a political gamble here, how much capital does one actually gain from getting some kind of an endorsement.
Now, we know from experience that President Trump has never been one to necessarily take that sort of into account. If he wants to endorse Boris Johnson, then that is exactly what he will go ahead and do. But you can easily understand why politicians here on this side of the pond, John, are twisting themselves into pretzels trying to look into the crystal ball, see exactly what the president might have in store, what he's planning, and try to prepare themselves appropriately. And it's no easy thing to do because these whims can change so often, John.
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that's a polite way of saying it. Trump's own advisers can't predict what the president is going to do on any given day. So I wouldn't spend too much time looking into that crystal ball.
Obviously, the other factor here is, look, Trump is part of an international nationalist movement. Farage is a key player in that, Boris seems to be the person in pole position coming in. But don't forget how unpopular Donald Trump is in the U.K. Pew Survey Research did a study about the percentage of people who say you can trust the president to do the right thing, it's done it over time. In the U.K. under Obama it was averaging around 70 percent. It's been down around 20 plus percent under Trump. This is not somebody who is a political asset in Britain for Boris Johnson.
CAMEROTA: But John, does President Trump meeting with Boris Johnson undermine whatever he's doing today with Theresa May.
AVLON: No, I don't necessarily think so. He is not going to get a trade deal done in the next 48 hours. But I think he's clearly shown a willingness to meddle in foreign politics in a way that past President Trump have not. Bill Clinton was very tight with Tony Blair after he won. But here you see the President Trump of the United States playing in open contests is the one we are going to see. And I do think Boris is somebody -- Boris has said some harsh things about him in the past, but generally they are of a kind. And certainly, Farage is not going to be the next leader of the U.K.
BERMAN: So now this lace the groundwork for this joint news conference which will happen about 40 minutes from now with President Trump and the British Prime Minister Theresa May. You can bet the president will be asked about this phone call with Boris Johnson. And Clarissa Ward, again, our chief international correspondent, you spoke to the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, who has been in the middle of this controversy with President Trump, and I think some comments he made to you will also be a focus of this news conference coming up. What did he tell you?
WARD: I cannot imagine that they will not because President Trump was clearly very offended by Mayor Sadiq Khan's editorial that he wrote in which he compared him to some of the worst fascists of the 20th century, to the point where he was writing nasty tweets about the mayor being a stone cold loser just as he was landing here in the U.K. And Mayor Khan from my conversation with him is showing no signs of backing down from this feud, either. He believes he did the right thing.
[08:05:02] We asked him whether it was appropriate for him to pen this editorial ahead of a state visit from the U.S. president, but we started out by asking what exactly his reaction was when he first read that tweet from President Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SADIQ KHAN, LONDON MAYOR: That's sort of what you would expect from an 11-year-old, but it's for him to decide how he behaves. It's not for me to respond in a like manner. I think it's beneath me to do childish tweets and name calling.
WARD: What made you decide to write what you wrote about him, though, because some people will say, hold on, you were egging him on?
KHAN: I'm quite worried about what I'm seeing across Europe, across my country where you've got far right parties, a far right movement that in previous years was on the fringes, that's now been normalized and mainstreamed, and they see Donald Trump as the poster boy.
WARD: Some people will say, though, the U.K. is in a moment where it needs to be pragmatic, it needs to look ahead to a bilateral trade deal. Do you worry at all that your comments could potentially jeopardize the U.K.'s working relationship with the U.S. in the future, particularly if President Trump is reelected?
KHAN: For those people who say it's wonderful for us to leave the European Union even without the deal because we'll have a good deal with the USA, this demonstrates why putting all your eggs in the Donald Trump basket is unwise, because we know his mood changes from hour to hour. He can be upset by an article in a Sunday newspaper to the extent where he resorts to name calling from Air Force One.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Interesting, Clarissa.
WARD: Mayor Sadiq Khan also did underscore the importance of the relationship between the U.S. and the U.K. He said, listen, we love America, but because America is our best friend we have to be able to say when we disagree with some of the things that your president is doing. I'm not sure whether Donald Trump will appreciate that answer, though.
CAMEROTA: So, Dana, other leaders have taken a different tact with President Trump and not taken the Sadiq Khan tact, but rather, we were talking about it this morning, the subtle messaging that Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth have been doing. This is all of this Churchill iconography that they keep showing him that suggests that out of wartime you can promote peace, and these international organizations such as the U.N. and NATO that stand for peace. And I just think that it's interesting that they have made a point of showing him the alliance and the agreements that have been signed, and handing him the books about it. BASH: Yes, there is no subtlety to that whatsoever. It will be
impossible for him to not get what the message is that they're trying to send to him to, please, please, stick with the alliances, especially for somebody like Queen Elizabeth, who has been queen for so long that she has lived through all of this.
CAMEROTA: Eleven presidents she's met with.
BASH: She's lived through all the presidents and lived through time after time the alliances that were formed after World War II, again, that she lived through, helped protect not just Great Britain but all of Europe and the U.S.
AVLON: That's the lesson that's in danger of being discarded. Her first prime minister was Winston Churchill.
AVLON: This is personal history. And so it is a reminder of the importance of these alliances, the enduring ties between our country and how we should not and cannot take them for granted. But Donald Trump is not somebody who really cares about history or precedent. And England and Europe is very rightly concerned that if NATO falls away, if the U.S. takes away their support for international alliances, as Vladimir Putin would want him to do, that would be bad for world peace among other things.
BERMAN: Clarissa, it's a thing inside the British political class to wonder whether in a joint U.S./British news conference whether the prime minister will have a "Love Actually" moment. I'm not trying to make light of this.
BERMAN: This comes up every time there is a joint press conference. If the British prime minister, the Hugh Grant character, will turn to Billy Bob Thornton, the U.S. president, and take issue with U.S. policy. And it never happens. And there is a reason it doesn't happen. So as contentious as this all is, and as politically fraught as it all is, people shouldn't expect fireworks in 35 minutes, should they?
WARD: No. I don't think there's going to be fireworks of any sort. I think what you can expect to see is outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May with the very few days that she has left as prime minister trying to cobble together some kind of a modus vivendi with the U.S. that will provide a roadmap moving forward. She will perhaps be willing to concede on some issues potentially regarding the whole Chinese company Huawei helping the U.K. build their 5G network. She will have to capitulate on some issues undoubtedly in order to secure that crucial bilateral trade deal. President Trump has said in a tweet yesterday that he is willing to go ahead and negotiate a big deal once the U.K. is free of the shackles, by which of course he is referring to the European Union.
[08:10:04] But I can't really stress enough how crucially important this is for the U.K. as it looks down the barrel at a post Brexit world, and it is a very cold, lonely, and potentially economically unsound world for the U.K. So we're not going to see a "Love Actually" moment, but I also don't think we are going to see any explosive fireworks, either.
BASH: But she is a lame duck. If anybody could potentially just say, you know --
BERMAN: You're holding out for "Love Actually."
BASH: Screw it, I'm going to do it. I think it's possible she's dancing around 10 Downing Street to the tunes of "Jump."
CAMEROTA: We're looking at live pictures right here. This is a garden party, you can see the first lady, Melania Trump, holding bouquets that are being given to her from children there. They look beautiful. She is with Theresa May's husband. This is what spouses do while the leaders of their countries are trying to cobble together some sort of agreement. It has been pleasant weather in London, remarkably, for this entire visit. So John, what should we expect when they come out today?
WARD: It's miserable out here.
AVLON: Thank you for clearing that up for us, Clarissa.
BASH: It looks so sunny.
WARD: Gale force winds.
CAMEROTA: I must say the backdrop behind Clarissa has gotten decidedly more London with its shroud of fog there. Thank you for the reality check on that. But John, when Theresa May and Donald Trump come out, what should we expect?
AVLON: Look, as much as I and everyone would love to see a "Love Actually" moment, and a lame duck prime minister should be in a position to actually deliver it, and by the way, it might do her legacy some good in terms of domestic politics, don't expect it. I think they will be talking about their commonalities, facing the future, the unshakeable Atlantic alliance which is bigger than any president or prime minister. That's the key thing, that this alliance between the United States and the United Kingdom has made the world stronger and safer for decades. And it is much bigger than any personalities whoever it happening to be at 10 Downing and the White House.
BERMAN: And Dana, I will say, this is the first official news conference the president will have given in some time as opposed to just some rolling statement on the way to a helicopter. What domestic issues could he be confronted with?
BASH: Where do we even start? First of all, just the notion that he is going to potentially start a trade war in six days with Mexico, which he has been asked about a little bit but not really in an intense way, and that's no small thing, especially since the Senate is coming back from recess and his fellow Republicans are talking about trying to find a way to legislatively stop him from doing that. And then of course, all the questions about investigations that House Democrats are doing and whether or not they are going to be able to get things, I don't know, like his financial records since they keep winning in the courts.
CAMEROTA: Dana, John, and Clarissa in foggy London, thank you very much for all of the reports reporting there.
BERMAN: House Democrats have scheduled the first hearings related to the Mueller investigation next week, but most of the key players not on the schedule. So what exactly are the Democrats hoping to accomplish here? We're going to speak to a key member of the House Judiciary Committee next.
[08:16:54] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I want to show you live pictures from London right now. This is the commonwealth office, a short walk from 10 Downing Street. Very shortly, the president and British prime minister will walk here and hold a joint news conference. We will bring that to you live the second it happens.
In the meantime, the House Judiciary Committee announced it will begin hearings on the, quote, alleged crimes and other misconduct described in the Mueller report, those hearings will begin next week. Witnesses include Richard Nixon's former White House counsel John Dean, former U.S. attorneys and legal experts. Not mentioned as a witness, Robert Mueller himself.
Joining us now is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, Democratic Congressman David Cicilline.
Congressman, thank you very much for being with us this morning.
REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): My pleasure. Good morning.
BERMAN: When are you going to explain what you're trying to do? What are you trying to get out of these hearings next week with a former Nixon White House counsel?
CICILLINE: Well, we're going to begin hearings to examine the contents of the Mueller report. We will first hear from a number of attorneys, former U.S. attorneys, DOJ officials who will talk about the elements of the crimes of obstruction of justice. These are part of the group of more than 1,000 attorneys who have said that were the president not the president of the United States, he would have been indicted and charged with obstruction of justice based on the evidence.
BERMAN: But --
CICILLINE: We will also hear from John Dean who obviously knows something about cover ups and about a criminal administration. And so, this is really going to help set the context of the Mueller report as we begin to kind of dig into the findings of the report and bring those before the committee.
BERMAN: But none of these are people who worked on the Mueller investigation, none of these people are witnesses listed inside the Mueller report or in any way are connected to this, correct?
CICILLINE: Yes. This is just the beginning. Don't forget, we have subpoenaed Don McGahn and William Barr, we will proceed checks week with contempt votes on the House floor to compel their attendance before the committee, we are still in negotiations with the special counsel's team in the hopes of bringing him before the committee.
So, this is just part of the ongoing work. We expect to have those other witnesses before the committee as well. We don't want to waste any time so we are going to begin to set the context for our review and for our investigation of the findings in the report.
BERMAN: You say you are in negotiations with the special counsel. Can you give us a status report on those negotiations about whether or not you've convinced him to appear voluntarily?
CICILLINE: Well, I know that the Judiciary Committee staff and his team have been in conversations, I think most members of the committee believe it's very important that the special counsel come before the committee and before the American people and really walk us through the findings in the report. The judgments he has made, the decisions he made during the course of the investigation.
I think everyone knows from his own words at his press conference that he would prefer not to do that, but it's important. I think this is a question of a duty to the country to really walk through the contents of the report that he developed after 22 months of an investigation, answer questions from members of Congress about the decisions he has made and the judgments he has made.
So, my hope is that we will eventually reach a resolution where he will come voluntarily but I think most members of the committee believe if he doesn't, that we should issue a subpoena to compel his attendance.
[08:20:06] But, hopefully, that won't be necessary and he will come before the committee and come before the American people and walk them through the contents of his very important report.
BERMAN: How long are you willing to go I have at this point? Are we talking days, weeks, months?
CICILLINE: Well, that's a decision of the chairman. But, look, we should remember, his report details 10 --
BERMAN: What would you prefer? What would you prefer at this point? I mean, you know, weeks?
CICILLINE: I would prefer that he comes before the committee and so I think it has to be done as quickly as possible. I think it's long overdue. I think the American people have a right to hear from him directly. They paid for this investigation.
We should never lose sight of the fact that this investigation began because our democracy was attacked, a presidential election was attacked by a foreign adversary of the United States in a sweeping and systematic way, according to the Mueller report. He also provided evidence of ten specific instances of misconduct of the president, obstruction of justice, including encouraging people to make up fake documents and be untruthful.
These are serious, serious allegations and I think it's important that he come before the committee as quickly as possible and so my hope is that he will. If it was up to me, it would be immediately.
BERMAN: I understand, but you do hear from Democratic activists, what's the hold up at this point? I understand you would rather he come voluntarily but you could issue a subpoena. There are those wondering why not call witnesses who have no claim of privilege, a guy like Corey Lewandowski, there is not a single privilege he could claim to come and testify before your committee. He is listed in the Mueller report.
Why not have him this week?
CICILLINE: Oh, this is -- this is just the beginning of what will be many hearings before the committee in the context of the review of the Mueller report. You will see a number of additional witnesses, many of whom will not have a privilege. We've obviously issued subpoenas for Hope Hicks and others.
So, you know, this is going to be an ongoing responsibility of the committee to be issuing subpoenas, attempting to enforce those subpoenas and also hearing from other witnesses who will come voluntarily.
BERMAN: So --
CICILLINE: So it's going to be a combination of those.
BERMAN: Congressman, you are in the middle of and in fact at the point of a fascinating development from Capitol Hill which is you want to lead antitrust investigations into big tech and we're talking about Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple. What are you hoping to achieve here?
CICILLINE: Yes, we announced yesterday the Judiciary Committee will begin an investigation, a broad investigation of the digital marketplace of these very dominant platforms. It will be led by the antitrust subcommittee that I chair.
It's really to look at the behavior of these big technology companies. Are they engaged in anticompetitive behavior? Are they respecting the privacy of users? Are they discouraging innovation and entrepreneurship?
And so, this is an area where there's a tremendous amount of concern about the largeness of these technology platforms. This is an opportunity to really in a very bipartisan way collect a lot of good data about what we need to do to respond to this very serious monopoly or duopoly moment, and what we're going to do to make these markets work right to protect the interests of consumers and the privacy and the fact that people have control of their own data and whether or not we can create a competition in this space and prevent kind of acquisitions that prevent real competition in the digital marketplace.
So. it's a broad investigation. It's not focused on any particular company but it's really on the marketplace and we'll do depositions and witness interviews and hearings and round tables. We will listen to some of the best technologists out there so that we can make informed judgments about how we respond to this very serious challenge.
BERMAN: How you respond? The big question here is, would you consider or entertain the notion of breaking up a Google or a Facebook or an Amazon?
CICILLINE: I think it's -- first of all, Congress doesn't have the ability to break up a company. Obviously, we would only be able to modernize our antitrust statutes that would require that. I think it's too early to know what the answers are. We're going to have to spend a lot of time understanding how the marketplace is working, how it's failing, and then we'll develop solutions based on what we collect during the course of this investigation.
But I think nothing is off the table in terms of the final resolution and it's a really important investigation that affects the daily lives of the American team.
BERMAN: One of the interesting things is when you're talking about antitrust and breaking monopolies up, generally speaking, you are talking about prices that are charged to consumers. What the consumer is paying here, a lot of legal decisions on antitrust have had to do with that.
But for a place like Facebook and Google, they're free, right? So, consumers --
CICILLINE: Well, they're not really free.
BERMAN: This is where it -- the law will get interesting.
CICILLINE: First of all, I think one of the things you pointed to here is a question we need to look at, whether or not our existing antitrust statutes are working for the 21st century. These are statues that were written mostly during the time of the railroad monopolies. It's a very different economy today.
So, one of the things we're going to have to look at is, do our antitrust statutes meet the needs of the 21st century economy? Is price the only relevant consideration? I think that's one of the things we have to look at.
But no one should think all of this is free. This is data being collected, used and sold, also preventing competitors from entering the marketplace which will drive down prices. So, the question about anti-competitive conduct and what it means to the consumer is a real issue.
[08:25:03] Privacy is a real issue, the misuse of the data, the sharing of data with third parties. So, we want a system where people have control of their own data, they have reasonable expectation that their data will be kept private when they want it to be, that other competitors will be able to enter the marketplace that will spur innovation.
So, there are a number of costs to the current system. A reduction in innovation, reduction of entrepreneurship, a loss of competition and we need to look at all those issues to figure out what are the long term consequences. One of them is in that news media.
You look at what's happening with local news, as a result of these two largest technology platforms they are crushing local news, using their content, generating -- taking most of the revenues and you're seeing local newspapers, online publishers going out of business virtually every week.
We have to look at the impact of these two dominant platforms on access to trustworthy, reliable, local news. So, there are a number of issues that are really significant, people understand that. The services they're getting, they're giving something in exchange for that. They're taking individuals' data. They're using it.
So, I wouldn't say it's free. They may not have to write a check for it, there's a cost to the consumer.
BERMAN: They're a product in some cases. Not, you know, not the customer.
CICILLINE: That's right.
BERMAN: Congressman David Cicilline, these are such important questions. Thanks so much for helping explain the significance. Appreciate it.
CICILLINE: Thanks for having me.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, John, we are standing by because in just minutes, President Trump and the British prime minister will hold a joint press conference. What have they been talking about? What, if anything, have they agreed to? We'll bring it to you as soon as it happens.
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