Return to Transcripts main page


CNN Poll: Biden Tops Democratic Field, Tight Race for 2nd Place; Democrat Hopefuls Descend on Iowa, Take Aim at Biden; Hickenlooper: GOP's Most Effective Attack Against Democrats is Socialism; Trump Defends Mexico Deal as Criticism Intensifies; Trump Threatens More Tariffs If Chinese President Xi Jinping Doesn't Meet with Him; Mexican Foreign Minister: No Secret Agreement Exists with U.S.; Wildfires Force Evacuations in Northern California; Report: Trump & Macron Symbolic Friendship Tree Has Died. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired June 10, 2019 - 13:30   ET


[13:30:00] DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: We asked, how enthusiastic are you about your support. And among Biden supporters, for these likely in-person caucus attendees, 29 percent of Biden supporters say they are extremely enthusiastic. But everybody else, non-Biden supporters, of other candidates, they feel, 39 percent of them feel extremely enthusiastic about their choice. So there is an enthusiasm gap there.

And I talked to one voter this weekend from Ames, Iowa. He says he's seen 20 candidates already this cycle. And he's so eager to defeat Donald Trump so his choice today would be Joe Biden. He says he likes Joe Biden. But then he said, it's kind of pissing me off that he's assuming that this is going to be his, meaning sort of advancing to the general election already.

So I think that that is indicative that folks here in Iowa are eager to see Joe Biden on the ground here regularly, and we know he'll be in the state tomorrow

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: You better show up in Iowa. Right? That's what we all know.

You had 19 Democratic candidates in Iowa this weekend, Nia. Biden was not one of them.


KEILAR: He had a very good reason, to be clear. He was at his granddaughter's high school graduation so that's a big deal.

But that doesn't mean he wasn't on everybody's mind.

Let's listen.


PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D), SOUTH BEND MAYOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're not going to win by playing it safe or promising a return to normal. We are where we are because normal broke.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are people who are ready for big structural change in this country.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I understand there are well-intentioned Democrats and candidates who believe that the best way forward is a middle-ground strategy that antagonizes no one, that stands up to nobody and that changes nothing.


KEILAR: There's some Democratic observers, voters, operatives, who are saying, why is there this circular firing squad on Biden. And more importantly, they are worried that this is something that would injure him for the general if he does turn out tonight nominee. What do you say to that?

HENDERSON: That's right. You look at 2016, right. That's one of the arguments that Hillary Clinton and Hillary Clinton's supporters made about Bernie Sanders. And she was weakened going into the general elections and why she wasn't able to get it over the finish line against Donald Trump. That's one argument.

The other argument is, listen, you want to have a nominee, whoever it is, is somebody who has fought a lot of battles, fought a lot of fights with different wings of the party and emerged ahead. And certainly, that's what we see from Biden at this point.

Everyone attacking him, primarily from the left, essentially saying this sort of small-bore change isn't in order. It's more like big change. I think their big challenges is trying to argue for their own electability because that's Biden's big, big claim among a lot of these voters. There's urgency to get Donald Trump out of office. There's fear among many Democrats.

So I think that's where these challengers really need to go, really try to undermine the electability argument.

KEILAR: The flip side is, the candidate will only be weakened if they are already weak, right --


KEILAR: -- sort of the flip side of it.

And there's another candidate who has been getting attacked from the left. Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. Let's listen to what he said about Democratic Socialism.


JOHN HICKENLOOPER, (D), FORMER COLORADO GOVERNOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump is the worst president in the history of America.

(APPLAUSE) HICKENLOOPER: But defeating him is far from guaranteed. We have to take the right approach. We must be progressive but also pragmatic. We need a dreamer but also a doer. We must present a bold vision for the future, but we must also acknowledge that the most effective attack the Republicans can level against us is one of Socialism.


KEILAR: I mean, David, this is the thing. Running for the general election during the primary election does not always work, and vice versa.

CHALIAN: It doesn't always work, you're right about that, although we do have to constantly remind ourselves about the makeup of the party overall, right? The Democratic electorate doesn't look like it does on Twitter or with the most progressive voices. That's a piece of the Democratic electorate.

And someone like Hickenlooper or even, frankly, Joe Biden, counting on some more moderate conservative older voters coming out who may find that kind of message appealing.

But the activists, the people that are most engaged, that is not really an appealing message to them yet that we've seen so far. Obviously, Hickenlooper not getting much traction. In fact, last weekend, in California, that message was met with boos by some activists -- Brianna?

KEILAR: That's right. Very good point.

Even though we see Biden doing very well, Nia.


KEILAR: Second place, second place is very important at this point in time. It had been so distant. The race is tightening a little bit. You have Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders are fighting right now. She, of course, has a plan for everything. Buttigieg has a generational argument that he's been putting forth. What does their various strategies to take the lead look like?

HENDERSON: It's getting out in front of voters as often as they can and having something to say.

[13:35:00] You mentioned Elizabeth Warren. She's certainly doing that. She has a plan for everything. She's been on Twitter talking to people about their dating lives and having a plan for that. So this is her strategy.

Buttigieg is making that generational argument. It's a good argument for some and not for others.

And I do think that both of these folks -- we talked about the whole electability thing. They do have challenges. There's sort of a Hillary hangover for Elizabeth Warren. The idea, can a woman actually beat, you know, a Donald Trump in the general election. And then for Pete Buttigieg, can a gay man beat Donald Trump in a general election?

These are things that voters don't want to necessarily admit to pollsters but it is in their minds, who can actually beat Donald Trump.

KEILAR: Thank you guys for the discussion.

And, Nia, if we take a look at David, David Chalian in Iowa.

HENDERSON: That's right.

KEILAR: It makes me feel like it is happening. It is happening.


KEILAR: That's how we know it's on, even though it's so far away.

David Chalian and Nia Malika Henderson, thank you so much.

CHALIAN: Thanks, Brianna.

KEILAR: Coming up, the president with a new deal to avert tariffs on Mexico but then threatens they could still happen, so which is it going to be?


[13:40:40] KEILAR: President Trump is touting the power of tariffs today. On TV and Twitter, he declared his immigration deal with Mexico a triumph.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (voice-over): If we didn't have tariffs, we wouldn't have made a deal with Mexico. We got everything we wanted. And we're going to be a great partner to Mexico now because now they respect us. They didn't even respect us.

They couldn't believe how stupid we were with what's going on, where somebody comes in from Mexico and just walks right into our country and we're powerless to do anything.

Whereas, they have very strong immigration laws. They don't have to take anybody. They can say, "out, you get." So we're going to be essentially using, to a large extent, the very powerful immigration laws of Mexico.


KEILAR: Now there's some skepticism about how much impact tariffs had on this deal. The "New York Times" reports that part of the Mexico deals were hammered out months ago.

I'm joined by CNN national security analyst, Sam Vinograd, who served as senior adviser under the national security adviser for President Obama. What do you think about the role of tariffs considering this report?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: When I was at the White House, tariffs were used to punish battle bad behavior. There had to be a legal basis for implementing tariffs. I don't think Mexican avocados and beer represent a national security risk.

So the president made it clear he's willing to intermingle economic policy with a political agenda, which is to make progress on immigration. But this not-so-new deal he's gotten with the Mexicans is, at best, Brianna, a Band-Aid.

This deal does nothing to mitigate the causes of immigration from Central America. Funding hasn't been restored.

And it's unclear how much the 6,000 National Guard members that the president -- the 6,000 National Guard members that Trump is focused on can do. The Mexican National Guard was just created in February. They are a civilian force so it's not as if this deal is going to solve the immigration crisis.

And at the same time, we're making clear that all of these migrants have to stay on the Mexican side of the border. And the Mexicans do not have the capacity to provide for their safety or just basic services that are required.

KEILAR: So you think the tariffs may have helped but that obviously that's not the best method, is that a fair way to characterize your assessment?

VINOGRAD: I think this is rewarding bad behavior. It's positive for the U.S. economy and Mexican economy and the global economy that these tariffs are not going into effect.

But President Trump acted like a bully and the Mexicans agreed to do something so that he could say he got a victory. He'll likely use this as a tool down the road because he can say he got a reward from it.

KEILAR: Speaking of this idea of co-mingling these different spheres, economic, immigration, let's talk about national security as well, right? Because China, he's talking about a tariff threat there. We've seen from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, he's saying, look, there's not going to be intel -- sharing with countries who use Huawei. OK, paging China, right?


KEILAR: So the president is trying to get a meeting with Xi here, other upcoming, and what does this mean when the president is saying this isn't about national security, this is about trade. What is, from your perspective from the expert perspective, the problem with that?

VINOGRAD: Well, in the CNBC interview, President Trump said the whole Huawei thing is just a bargaining chip in the trade war. Pompeo has launched a global campaign threatening to cut off their intelligence- sharing partners if our partners don't stop using Huawei as a 5G network.

The president is willing to sacrifice intel sharing and national security in the name of trade. That tells me nothing is off the table when it comes to the president to achieve his political agenda, even if that means risking the safety and security of the American people.

KEILAR: Let's go back to Mexico because we have something just in. The Mexican foreign minister says no secret immigration deal existed between his country and the United States, directly contradicting President Trump's claim on Twitter that a fully signed and documented agreement would be revealed soon.

VINOGRAD: Trump lied. How strange. But even if this was figment of President Trump's imagination, this is President Trump interfering with Mexican politics. He said, if this deal was not signed, by the Mexicans or ratified, he'd put more tariffs on. He's tried to bully our Congress into doing his bidding on immigration. Now he's turned his ire to Mexico and making up facts again to pursue a political agenda.

KEILAR: Sam Vinograd, thank you so much.

VINOGRAD: Thank you.

KEILAR: Coming up, the raging wildfires in the west. Evacuations ordered in California as the forecast shows little relief for firefighters trying to beat back those flames.

[13:45:03] And it was meant as a symbol of friendship between the United States and France, but this tree planted by Trump and Emmanuel Macron is no more. We'll talk about why.


[13:50:08] Right now, multiple wildfires are burning in two western states. In Arizona, the Mountain Fire has burned nearly 75 acres in a national forest.

Meantime, some residents north of Sacramento, California, are being told to leave their homes ahead of a rapidly spreading wildfire that has already burned more than 2000 acres.

CNN's Dan Simon is joining us from Yolo County, California.

Dan, tell us how firefighters there are trying to get the upper hand.

DAN SIMON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, I can tell you the fire did not grow overnight, so that is a good sign. But it is hot today. It's going to be windy. Tough conditions for the firefighters. Right now it's at about 30 percent containment.

But what's particularly noteworthy about this fire and in terms of what happened over the weekend is that PG&E, the utility, shut down the power for 20,000 customers. That's unprecedented. They've never done anything like that. In fact, no American utility has done anything like that to prevent a wildfire.

What they're concerned about is with the heavy winds that the wind could knock over a power pole and cause another wildfire, and that's precisely what happened about a year ago with the fire in Paradise, California, the deadliest wildfire in California history.

I can tell you the power is now back on. That concern seems to be evaporated.

But that's something we'll be seeing more and more of this summer. And it looks like this could be another difficult wildfire season. Of course, we had a lot of rains this spring. You have a lot of fuel. And with these hot temperatures and with climate change, according to the science, you could be seeing more and more of these as the months wear on -- Brianna?

KEILAR: And how hot is it going to get there today in the next little while?

SIMON: Well, we're expected to hit triple-digit temperatures today. So very difficult for these firefighters who, by the way, are battling the blaze in very steep, rugged terrain. We're at the commander post. And you really can't access where this fire is burning at the moment. But it's also being fought from the sky. And I know that the helicopters made a big difference in terms of getting that containment number up -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Yes. We're looking at the pictures alongside your report there.

Dan, thank you so much, with us from Yolo County, California.

Coming up, his testimony helped bring down Nixon nearly 50 years ago. Now one of the key figures of Watergate, John Dean, is set to return to Capitol Hill to testify about the Mueller report and what it says about President Trump.


[13:57:23] KEILAR: The Friendship Tree -- do you remember this -- planted by President Trump and French President Macron to symbolize a century of friendship between the countries has reportedly died. The two planted this tree in a ceremony last year. It quickly got the name the Bromance Tree after the two leaders developed a close friendship.

The tree was actually put in quarantine after the ceremony was over, and it has been kept there since.

Kate Bennett is with me.

I love that arrow pointing right there.

So it's a certain irony because the bromance between Macron and Trump isn't what it used to be. Do we know what happened to the tree?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: The bromance has died perhaps as well.

KEILAR: Withered, at least.

BENNETT: Exactly. The roots didn't connect.

KEILAR: Correct.

BENNETT: So, typically, a tree like that -- it came from France, from the Belleau Wood of France to symbolize the relationship between the two countries and in World War I, and what the U.S. did to support the French during World War I.

The tree was then taken to a USDA facility for quarantine, which is normal. It could be put in quarantine for up to two years before it would be replanted. Somehow, in the quarantine process, it appears that the tree died.

The White House is not saying anything. We have not heard back yet confirmation from the USDA, but perhaps the isolation of the tree --

KEILAR: I see. The isolationism killed the tree.

BENNETT: There's an irony. Of course, Macron had said many times of Trump that -- or implied at least he's not supportive of -- said he's isolationist. He said it at the U.N. He's talked about Iran, climate change, the things that have been a big divide between Trump and Macron since the tree was planted. So it is that metaphor of the tree.

KEILAR: We don't know -- I mean, it's dead, right? But there's this sort of -- there a talking around it that happens. There's a diplomacy around the death of the tree it sounds like.

BENNETT: Exactly. No one wants to take responsibility for this dead, historic tree. The tree, like I said, traveled from France. There was a big ceremony. I happened to be standing right there with the golden shovels as they planted it.

KEILAR: Because it commemorates one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War.

BENNETT: Exactly.

KEILAR: It's supposed to be this symbol. And you would wonder, being in quarantine for two years, the idea probably was that it was supposed to get some care considering the meaning of it.

BENNETT: Right. Exactly.

And the USDA, the facility really does -- I mean, it does care for imported items that do need to stay in quarantine to make sure there's no parasites, no -- anything that's wrong with it, that's what we're looking for. Accidents and things happen.

KEILAR: Accidents and things. Maybe there was something the matter with it. We're going to work on this. Kate Bennett is all over this tree beat.

Thank you so much, Kate Bennett.

BENNETT: Thank you.

[14:00:07] KEILAR: That's it for me.

NEWSROOM with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.