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Biden Reverses Abortion Stance Amid Intense Criticism; Nadler & Pelosi Clash Over Trump Impeachment Inquiry; Trump Faces Deadline Today to Impose Tariffs on Mexico; U.S. Navy: Russian Destroyer Almost Collided with Cruiser; More Rain to Hit Southeastern U.S. Aired 6- 6:30a ET
Aired June 7, 2019 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can't justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need.
[05:59:22] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Biden, is, in fact, going to support repealing the Hyde amendment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a clear cave to the pressure that he was getting.
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): It may very well come to a formal impeachment inquiry. We will see.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Behind the scenes, he has made multiple pitches to the House speaker. The two Democrats are at odds.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are more focused on undermining this president than they are to solving major problems in the United States.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Friday, June 7, 6 a.m. here in New York. And we begin with Democratic front- runner Joe Biden reversing his stance on federal funding for abortions.
After days of criticism from his Democratic rivals and women's rights groups, the former vice president says he no longer supports the Hyde amendment, which bans the use of federal health care dollars to pay for abortions. The about-face is sure to be an issue on the campaign trail as a majority of the Democratic hopefuls head to Iowa this weekend.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We have new developments this morning in the debate over impeachment. CNN has learned that the House judiciary chair, Jerry Nadler, is privately lobbying Speaker Nancy Pelosi to begin an impeachment inquiry against President Trump. Sources say he's offered two new arguments. Will they persuade her?
Also, today is the manufactured deadline on Mexican tariffs. If the president is serious about imposing new tariffs on Mexico starting Monday to force action on immigration, he would have to sign the order today.
U.S. and Mexican negotiators have been meeting. Both sides claim some progress, but so far, no deal.
We have it all covered. We want to begin, though, with this huge reversal on a huge issue for Democratic voters. CNN's Arlette Saenz live in Atlanta, where Joe Biden just flipped, Arlette, on federal funding for abortion. Why?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. This was a major reversal for Joe Biden. This measure bans the use of federal dollars on most abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, or for the life of the mother. And it's one that Biden has supported for more than four decades.
But last night here in Atlanta, as he spoke to Democrats, Biden, after he had faced swift pressure from his Democratic colleagues, decided that he is now reversing his position and is against it. Take a listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I make no apologies for my last position and I make no apologies about what I'm about to say. I can't justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and the ability to exercise their constitutionally-protected right. If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone's ZIP code.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAENZ: Now, over the past two days, Biden had faced intense criticism not just from his Democratic rivals, but also from abortion rights groups that had said said the former vice president was wrong in supporting this amendment.
And right now, abortion is really an animating issue for many Democrats, especially as you're seeing more states try to implement legislation that creates abortion restrictions in their states.
Now, while most of the Democratic field is going to descend on Iowa this weekend, Joe Biden won't be there, but he is heading to Iowa next week and, in fact, will be in the state the same day as President Trump -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, Arlette, very interesting. Thank you so much for that.
Meanwhile, CNN has learned that House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler is privately pushing for an impeachment inquiry to begin into President Trump. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not yet buying that pitch.
CNN's Lauren Fox is live on Capitol Hill with more. What have you learned, Lauren?
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, new details in closed-door meetings. We've learned that the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, has been pushing Nancy Pelosi to move forward with impeachment as sort of a way to try to coalesce the investigations that have been going on for several months now.
FOX (voice-over): House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler making his pitch to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a private meeting. Again, laying out why he believes it's time to begin an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
A source tells CNN Nadler told Pelosi the inquiry will help centralize House Democrats on growing investigations into the Trump administration and make it easier for lawmakers to discuss allegations against the president on the House floor and within committees.
NADLER: When that decision has to be made, it will be made not by any one individual. It will be made by the -- probably by the caucus as a whole. Certainly, Nancy will have the largest single voice in it. Our various committee chairmans [SIC] and rank-and-file members.
FOX: The California Democrat explaining her reluctance earlier this week.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): When you're impeaching somebody, you want to make sure you have the strongest possible indictment. Because it's not the means to the end that people think. All you do, vote to impeachment, bye-bye, birdie. It isn't that. It's an indictment.
FOX: According to Politico, Pelosi told her colleagues behind closed doors, "I don't want to see him impeached. I want to see him in prison."
President Trump firing back at Pelosi in an interview with FOX News Channel, while sitting in front of tombstones of World War II heroes in Normandy.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think she's a disgrace. I actually don't think she's a talented person. I've tried to be nice to her, because I would have liked to have gotten some deals done. She's incapable of doing deals. She's a nasty, vindictive, horrible person.
FOX: In addition to the House speaker's resistance, a source telling CNN Nadler is also receiving pushback from House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, who's also a key figure in leading Trump investigations.
But Pelosi's spokeswoman writing that she and committee chairs, quote, "agree to keep all options on the table and continue to move forward with an aggressive hearing and legislative strategy," something Nadler told House Judiciary members in a conference call according to multiple participants, offering alternative solutions to keeping the pressure on Trump after unsuccessful negotiations with Pelosi.
[06:05:21] Nadler pledging to ramp up on growing obstruction of justice investigations into the administration, by issuing more subpoenas and holding more officials in contempt of Congress, if necessary.
And this question about whether or not it is time to open up an impeach inquiry, of course, has divided Democrats for several months now, but we're starting to see a bit more pressure from leading committee chairman like Nadler. And of course, the question is how many more Democrats will come out in support of an impeachment inquiry in upcoming days or weeks -- John.
BERMAN: The number has been rising day by day, but slowly and certainly not yet, a majority. Lauren Fox for us on Capitol Hill.
President Trump heads back to Washington this morning, following his five-day trip to Europe. As you heard from Lauren, he faces new questions about the political attacks he hurled just feet away from gravestones of U.S. service members.
He also faces a deadline if he's serious about slapping new tariffs on Mexico to force immigration -- action on immigration. If he wants the tariffs in place by Monday, he'd really have to sign the order today.
CNN's Abby Phillip traveling with the president. She joins us live from Limerick in Ireland, with the very latest on this. Abby, what have you heard about the negotiations?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, President Trump is expected to head back this morning for the United States, where he's going to face, potentially, a revolt among Republicans over his stance on tariffs.
According to White House officials, the talks have been ongoing for the last two days; and they have been positive, characterized by both sides as positive. But there has been no breakthrough yet, and most officials believe that the first round of tariffs expected to go into place Monday will go into place, because they won't be able to get anything nailed down by today, which is really the deadline for President Trump to sign the order in order for those to go into effect.
But President Trump is defiant this morning. He's telling Republicans that they really should love what he's doing with tariffs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tariffs are a beautiful thing. It's a beautiful word, if you know how to use them properly. Republicans should love what I'm doing.
Because I view tariffs in two phases. No. 1, it's great to negotiate with, because people don't want to be tariffed for coming into the United States. They don't want that. And No. 2, frankly, if they go in, you make a fortune, because all the companies are going to move back into the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: What has made Republicans so uncomfortable with this move from President Trump is because it's intended to deal with an unrelated issue, immigration. It's not to do with economics, really. And we may have reached a high-water mark. If President Trump does go forward with this plan, there could be enough votes in the House and the Senate to potentially block him, setting up a major fight for the president, as he goes forward, trying to put into place tariffs against Mexico and also China in the future -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: We will see. Of course, he doesn't think it's unrelated, but we will talk about a lot of that in the program. Abby, thank you very much.
The Trump administration insists that tariffs on Mexico are needed to slow the overwhelming flow of migrants attempting to cross into the U.S. So why has the situation at the border become so much more urgent recently?
CNN's Dianne Gallagher is live in El Paso, Texas, with more. What's the situation, Dianne?
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Alisyn, look, we had more than 130,000 people who were apprehended by Customs and Border Protection just in the month of May. The majority of those were families and unaccompanied children.
Now, here in El Paso, at least when you're looking at fiscal year comparison, we're looking at almost a 1,500 percent increase in the number of people that are being taken into custody.
Now, the reason why they're coming is, of course, due in part to what's going on in those northern triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. You're talking about violence, extreme poverty, and weather conditions coupled with food and things like that.
But the Republican who represents this El Paso border area -- in fact, Will Hurd, represents more border than any other representative, 800 miles worth -- says that part of these increases might be due to the Trump administration and its interpretation of asylum laws.
Now, Will Hurd has created a proposal to narrow down asylum laws himself, but he says that the Trump administration is treating everyone they apprehend as if they are seeking asylum. And that's creating some of this backlog we're seeing.
Both the Department of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services have requested emergency funding to kind of catch up with this, because there are so many women and children and families who are coming right now. We're seeing this backlog. We're seeing this overcrowding situation in shelters and in these processing centers, so much so that even the charity organizations that have been doing for this decades, like here in El Paso, they're sending them to other places, John.
Now Mexico has said that they are sending 6,000 National Guardsmen to the border with Guatemala to hopefully appease President Trump and the administration when it comes to those tariffs.
[06:10:08] BERMAN: All right. Dianne Gallagher for us in El Paso. Thank you for being there and telling us what's actually going on. Appreciate it.
We do have breaking news. Local media here in New York City reporting that a man has been arrested in an alleged terrorist plot. Sources tell the "Daily News" the man was looking into buying grenades to try to set them off in Times Square.
Police then arrange an undercover operation to catch the suspect, who they believe acted alone. Officials have not yet released his name. We are told he is expected to appear in federal court in Brooklyn today.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
CAMEROTA: We have just gotten this breaking news into our newsroom. The U.S. Navy tells CNN that a Russian destroyer almost collided with one of its guided cruisers in the Philippine Sea. The ships came so close together, that the Navy says they had to throw the vessel into reverse and hit the gas to avoid a crash.
CNN's Fred Pleitgen is live in St. Petersburg, Russia, with all of the breaking details. What happened, Fred?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Alisyn.
Well, apparently, all this happened in the morning hours of this morning in the East China Sea, and the ship involved was the USS Chancellorsville.
And apparently, what they're saying that this Russian destroyer, the Admiral Vinogradov, came at the Chancellorsville so quickly as it was trying to recover a helicopter that, indeed, the Chancellorsville had to hit full throttle reverse to try and avoid a collision.
Now, the U.S. obviously extremely upset about this, calling this maneuver unprofessional. I want to read to you the statement the navy has put out. They're saying, quote, "We consider Russia's actions during the interaction as unsafe and unprofessional and not in accordance for the international regulations for preventing collisions at sea, the rules of the road, and internationally recognized maritime customs."
In fact, an official is telling our own Barbara Starr, Alisyn, that the U.S. is so angry and taken aback by this incident that they're actually thinking of and trying to declassify both images, as well as video of this incident to show just how dangerous this interaction was from the Russian side. Now, the Russians, for their part, are also lodging a complaint about
this incident. They came out a little earlier today with a statement saying that it was the U.S. ship that they believe acted unprofessionally. They put the distance at a little bit bigger. The U.S. side is saying 50 to 100 feet. The Russians are saying it was about 50 to 100 meters. So that's a little bit of a larger distance.
All of this, of course, coming as the relations between both the U.S. and Russia and the U.S. and China continue to very much deteriorate with that trade war going on between Washington and Beijing. And at the same time, right here where I am, at the St. Petersburg economic forum, the Russians and the Chinese really cozying up to one another. Vladimir Putin meeting with Xi Jinping in just a couple of minutes from now. And both of them have already said, of course, of one another that they are each other's best friend. And both of them, of course, very critical of the United States at this point -- John.
BERMAN: All right. Frederick Pleitgen for us in St. Petersburg. Fred, thank you very much.
I have to say, a hundred feet, a hundred meters, and it's still incredibly close for vessels of this size. And if the Russian vessel did get that close, you have to wonder what they were trying to do. It was obviously some kind of, if not a provocation, at least game playing that was very dangerous.
CAMEROTA: Well, we just don't know if it was incompetence or intentional at this point. And as Fred said, they're trying to declassify those photos. Maybe that will reveal something. But obviously, we'll be following this story, because that is much too close for comfort. And the timing is also interesting, as Fred just pointed out, because of what's happening there in St. Petersburg.
BERMAN: Generally speaking, you can't get that close by mistake, is sort of the problem, is what they're going to have to explain, the Russians.
CAMEROTA: In 1976, Congress outlawed federal funding for most abortions. Joe Biden backed that plan, and he backed it until yesterday. Why he changed and what it means for his campaign. That's next.
[06:18:32] BERMAN: So new overnight, former Vice President Joe Biden reversed his decades-long stance on federal funding for abortion. He now says it should be allowed.
This major shift comes after days of criticism from his fellow Democratic candidates.
Abby Phillip is back with us. Also joining us is former Clinton White House press secretary and CNN political commentator Joe Lockhart.
And Joe, Joe Biden held this position for decades.
JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right.
BERMAN: Firmly. Not casually. This was something he talked about when asked, and he explained. He felt that this was something that his faith wouldn't allow him to support federal funding. He said occasionally, he was looking for that middle ground, in so many words.
And last night, he said, as he was explaining his shift, that he's not apologizing for his past answer. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I make no apologies on my last position, and I make no apologies for what I'm about to say. There's this enormous pressure and even threat to close down clinics that are available in the past for women who do not have the funds but are able to have them paid for privately, as we've been able to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: I guess there are two issues here, Joe. Why the shift and then the way he made it this week? Let's start with the why first. Why did he feel he had to do this?
LOCKHART: Well, I think it reflects a new reality in American politics. First off, I mean, he has separated over the years his faith from his position, but this was a middle ground for him.
But the debate over abortion has become very polarized on both sides. I think in talking, you know, to pro-choice leaders, there was a certain complacency within that movement that has now been exploded by Trump and the move towards judicial, conservative judicial appointments, the Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade being overturned.
And what's going on in the states. So when you have a state like Missouri that is trying to close down the last remaining place where people, either with funds or without funds, can get an abortion, so I think it reflects where the debate is. And I think, you know, Biden understood that. It was a political decision, but it was the right political decision.
CAMEROTA: Does he pay any political price for changing?
LOCKHART: You know, I think there's always, you know, some price when you change your position, but I think it would have been a much higher price if he had stuck to his guns on where he -- where he has been.
I think it's -- this is a little bit of a messier issue for the rest of the Democrats, because they've all voted for it. I mean, you take almost anyone who's been in the House or the Senate, they've voted for it every year.
CAMEROTA: Because it's been snuck in the spending bill.
LOCKHART: Because it's -- because it's been put in the spending bill. So maybe not as high a price as -- as he might, but this really does reflect where it was. And if you -- as you saw in the sound bite, there is a rationale for
this, which is, when Planned Parenthood is under attack, and Planned Parenthood provides abortion services for people without funds, and they're being put out of business in some states, that is changing the facts on the ground. So I think there is some justification for it, but politically, I think he's in -- he's in a place where it was just unsustainable.
BERMAN: And it used to be overturning the Hyde amendment wasn't even part of the Democratic Party platform, until 2016. It just became an issue.
But, Abby, I have to say, I was surprised, as someone who's covered a lot of campaigns, I was surprised twice this week by Joe Biden and his campaign. No. 1 that they didn't see this coming and were somehow surprised by this, because it has been an issue in the Democratic primary to date. So I was surprised they didn't anticipate it.
And then, after they came out earlier this week and said that the vice president's position hadn't changed, that he still supports the Hyde amendment, the campaign was whispering behind the scenes that he just feels this way, that this is his conviction and he wasn't going to change. And then within hours, he did change. So there was a back and forth and back and forth all in the same week. I was surprised twice by it.
It reveals to me a little bit of a lack of organization. What do you see?
PHILLIP: Yes, and I think that it also seems to reflect a lack of understanding of this particular moment that the Democratic Party is in.
Joe is right. The conditions probably have changed on the ground for Democrats and how they see the -- the stakes on the abortion issue. But I think those conditions have been there for at least several months now, if not over a year, since the Trump era began.
And so for the Biden campaign and for his aides to not recognize that, I think is a little bit of political malpractice. And it's a bit stunning, because it only took a matter of days for him to realize that the backlash was so strong that he needed to reverse himself.
And it's really problematic for a candidate to say, "I'm standing on my convictions in one way," and then completely flip-flop just a couple of days later. I think it really undermines his entire message.
And I think you're already seeing a lot of Republicans saying, "See? This is why we told you Joe Biden is an undisciplined candidate." And that may very well be the case. I think we still have to see how much it's going to hurt him with Democrats, given how far ahead of the pack that he is.
But what -- what should really trouble the Biden campaign is that they -- they are clearly not calibrated to the Democratic primary the way that they need to be at this stage in the campaign, if he wants to remain the front-runner.
CAMEROTA: It's interesting, Joe, because we -- I think we had talked about how that was a good position for the general, because public polling suggested that people were still opposed to federal funding for abortion, but not for the primary, when all of his opponents did not support the Hyde amendment.
But I'm just wondering, has President Trump's ever-changing moods, to quote the style of counsel made it -- that has that allowed Democrats to flip more easily?
LOCKHART: Well, I don't know if it's his ever-changing moods. I think the speed at which the president changes the subject allows anyone to move on quickly from a decision like this.
So I don't expect this to, you know, have a lasting impact in the primary race.
And I think you saw most of the leaders in the pro-choice movement yesterday lauding the change. They could have taken a more cynical approach and said, "You know, we don't think you're a true believer." But he received across-the-board support for this.
It's just the whole landscape of abortion politics is changing, and it's changing right in front of us. It used to be, as you said, that the independents in the middle wanted a more moderate position.
[06:25:05] This is really now splitting more on gender lines and, even if you look at the numbers, even those in the middle are taking a more -- a stronger position towards pro-choice and a woman's right to choose and control their body, because of the attacks, you know, that are coming from individual states, from Republican lawmakers.
So I think this -- this position reflects something that works for Biden in the primary. I actually think it's going to work for him in the general, too.
And that's -- that's the sort of political shift that I think went on in their minds, recognizing that the facts on the ground have radically changed politically.
BERMAN: I was thinking the same thing you were, though. Has President Trump so shattered the rules of politics, flip-flops don't matter anymore? We know that is the case -- was the case in the Republican primary. Will that be the case in the Democratic field this time?
CAMEROTA: I mean, voters have gotten accustomed to it over the past two and a half to three years, so maybe there is no political price anymore.
LOCKHART: Yes. But I do think people, particularly women voters in the primaries, will look at this. And there's a lot of people who, you know, Biden is at -- is the front-runner for a reason. Because more people support him. And they look at this as just something where they say, "Well, it took him a while to get there, but he's there, so I'm OK with that."
BERMAN: I think Abby's right. The debate stage will be the place where this all plays out before our very eyes in just a few weeks.
Abby, we'll talk to you again in a little bit. Joe, thank you very much.
One person is dead after flash floods in Louisiana. Thirty-seven- year-old William Jackson drowned trying to escape his stranded vehicle. In Baton Rouge, firefighters came to the rescue of a driver stuck in a sinking car. Look at that.
CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh!
BERMAN: The driver did make it out.
Floodwaters in St. Louis continue to reach near historic levels. More than 10 million people are under flood alerts this morning. CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has the forecast.
Chad, oh, no, that doesn't look good.
CHAD MYERS, CNN AMS METEOROLOGIST: This is what's already come down, John. I mean, some spots here, 6 to 8 inches of rain and more still to come. That is the problem. And no, that does not look good.
This weather is brought to you by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, packed with goodness.
More days of rain to come. Here's the latest radar right now, but watch the next three days. It is one storm spinning here that just won't move. And we know what happens when storms don't move. The rain's in the same place.
That's exactly what we will see over the next few days. Four to 6 inches of rainfall right across the Southeast.
Now, that being said, there is a huge drought going on down here, the low country of South Carolina under severe drought conditions. So we'll take the rain where we can get it. Temperatures this weekend are going to be fairly nice, not too bad. And for you guys up there in New York, hey, happy Donut Day.
CAMEROTA: Wow. Thank you very much, Chad.
BERMAN: How does one celebrate that?
CAMEROTA: I'm not sure. But back at you.
All right. So they are arguably the most important constituency in the country: women who voted for Donald Trump. Will they do it again? We talked to Pennsylvania women, next.