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John Dean to Testify on Mueller Report; Highest Number of Measles in Three Decades; Wildfire Forces Evacuation of Six Flags; Trump Defends Mexico Deal. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 10, 2019 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: When I appeared before the -- before the Judiciary Committee in the House.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And today you'll be back there, all of these years later.

DEAN: I'll be back before the House.

CAMEROTA: So, tell us -- I mean you -- we have your prepared statements here but I would rather hear it from you. So tell us what your overarching message is to them.

DEAN: There's a little nostalgia because I worked for that committee at one point, too. It's the first government job I had and rose to be the minority counsel of that committee. So I spent a lot of time in that hearing room and know some of the fellows on the staff and -- but do not know any of the members anymore.

What I'm going to try to do with the committee -- I'm clearly not a fact witness, but I hope I can give them some context and show them how strikingly like Watergate what we're seeing now and as reported in the Mueller report is. So I've taken several examples from the Mueller report relating to obstruction of justice, which is their focus today, and looked at those and made the comparisons.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Care to give us a preview? Which do you think is the most apt comparison?

DEAN: The most apt? Wow, that's a tough question. Too many are too similar. But the fact that Nixon was hands-on very early is just like Trump, hands-on very early. The firing of Comey was certainly not dissimilar from some of the actions that Nixon took. Nixon waded in and tried to influence the FBI investigation, as did Trump. So there -- there are lots of comparisons.

BERMAN: Can I say, you say you're not going as a fact witness. There are those, and even our friends, Jeffrey Toobin, who have suggested that maybe this committee could be using its time in a better way than talking about Watergate. Maybe the time that this committee is holding these hearings should be used on witnesses who are part of the Mueller report.

What would you say to them? DEAN: Well, the problem is I think they'd like those witnesses, too,

but those witnesses, right now, are not available. They are stonewalling this committee. The Trump administration is making it as difficult as possible for anybody on the House side to do anything to learn about what their activities were or are.

So I think they have to start somewhere. So a historical base to understand what is going on is a good foundation for them.

CAMEROTA: Well, one of those witnesses, who you say is stonewalling, with whom you see lots of parallel, is White House Counsel Don McGahn. And so since you shared that role with him, what do you plan to tell them about Don McGahn's role?

DEAN: Don has said that he feels himself torn between two different branches of government. And that creates a conflict for him. And I -- actually it was my testimony that the ABA read during the Watergate hearings that rang a bell in Chicago and they decided to revise their code of ethics. And they solved a lot of the problems that used to exist in representing the organization. That's why Don today represents the office of the president and not Donald Trump. And I think his loyalty is to the office and not the man, and that lowers the conflict considerably. He's got some ethics issues that I try to address.

BERMAN: So you -- you do think he could testify. You don't think the privilege would cover him?

DEAN: No, I don't think the privilege would cover him. There are two reasons. First of all, there's something called the crime fraud exception. And when there's any criminal behavior, that is not covered by any privilege, not by attorney-client privilege, not by executive privilege, and some of these are crimes he's talking about.

The other is, there has been a general waiver. The waiver occurred when Mr. Trump released for public consumption the Mueller report. And all those things that are in the Mueller report that relate to Don McGahn, he is now free to talk about.

CAMEROTA: President Trump called you a nasty name over the weekend. How do you think you will be treated by his allies on Capitol Hill today?

DEAN: I haven't seen his tweet yet. I'm -- he's called me nasty names before. I like that small club actually that I'm in, so it doesn't bother me in the slightest. It's a queue to his admirers that I'm not on his team. But I think they knew that before today.

BERMAN: I think it is interesting, though, it's a good question, you know, the Republican allies that the president has on that committee I imagine will go after you. What for, do you think?

DEAN: It seems the theater of it all is what interests them. What I've tried to pay very close attention to are the rules of decorum of the House, where the House does not take the president's name in vain and/or accuse him of things that he hasn't done, to be very careful about that. And I have -- have gone out of my way to do that and was working on the statement last night to make sure that didn't happen.

[08:35:26] CAMEROTA: It will be fascinating to watch all of these years later, John Dean, making an on encore performance -- a return.

DEAN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much.

DEAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, people at Six Flags in southern California forced to evacuate as a wildfire burned dangerously close. We have a live update on these fires, next.


BERMAN: The number of measles cases in the U.S. this year has now topped 1,000. That is the highest number in nearly three decades. New York state alone has seen more than 800 cases since October.

CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has much more on this outbreak.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: John, this has been going on for so long that some are now wondering, should authorities try something different to get it under control?

[08:40:04] (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COHEN (voice over): Anti-vaxers in New York, they've fueled the largest outbreak of measles in the United States in more than 20 years. Now, the state's response to this enormous outbreak coming under fire.

BRAD HOYLMAN (D), NEW YORK STATE SENATE: Our state's inaction in the face of such an overwhelming public health emergency is appalling.

COHEN: In New York, parents are allowed to send their unvaccinated children to school. In other states, like California, schoolchildren must be vaccinated. Also under fire, health authorities for not bringing in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The New York City health commissioner says it's not necessary.

DR. OXIRIS BARBOT, COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK CITY DEPT. OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE: I have more than 400 people working on this outbreak, and we are working hard, day and night, to make sure we bring this to an end.

COHEN: Another issue, an anti-vaccinate group circulated this booklet filled with lies to the state's ultra-orthodox Jewish community, which has now become the epicenter of the outbreak. The state health department countered with these posters in Yiddish, but badly botched the translation.

Avi Greenstein runs the largest community center in Boro Park, Brooklyn.

AVI GREENSTEIN, CEO, BORO PARK JEWISH COMMUNITY COUNCIL: They've got to do this right. And they clearly were not doing it right.

COHEN: He says the botched ads are part of a larger problem.

GREENSTEIN: They have to reach out in a way that shows that they truly get how this community works, the uniqueness of this community.

COHEN (on camera): And have they done that?

GREENSTEIN: I think they could do a better job of that. I think it's clear, it's evident that they could do a better job on that.

COHEN (voice over): Now one group of Orthodox Jewish women are taking matters into their own hands, holding a first of its kind event aimed specifically at mothers.

COHEN (on camera): The women who organized this event, they're trying to do something different than what state officials have done. They've set up these stations because they know what moms in their community are worried about, do vaccines cause SIDS, do vaccines cause autism? The answer to both of these questions is no.

COHEN (voice over): The organizers hope it makes a difference.

COHEN (on camera): Could women, could moms be the key to ending this outbreak?


COHEN: Why is that?

BERNSTEIN: Because women are passionate about their children. And if there's enough understanding, the correct decisions will be made.

COHEN (voice over): With dozens of new cases every week, they're decisions that need to be made soon.


COHEN: Now, perhaps a positive sign, the number of new cases in New York, both in the city and the state, went down from April to May. But, still, when I asked the New York City health commissioner if she thought this outbreak would be over by the fall, she didn't answer.


CAMEROTA: Fascinating, though, Elizabeth, to see your story and see how they are now trying to tackle the information and misinformation.

Thank you very much.

So wildfires are spreading across parts of California, forcing hundreds to evacuate a Six Flags amusement park in northern California.

CNN's Dan Simon is in Rumsey, California, with more.

What's happening there, Dan?


As we all know, these fires are the new normal in California. We are covering the Sand Fire. This is the biggest wildfire to impact the state this year. And you can see some of the charred landscape behind me. At this point it's charred about 2,200 acres.

But what was especially noteworthy is over the weekend PG&E cut off power to about 20,000 customers because the area was under a red flag warning, which signals fire danger. Obviously the utility is under tremendous pressure after its transmission lines were found to have caused the Camp Fire, which destroyed the town of Paradise this year. I think you can expect to see PG&E taking this action throughout the summer.

Elsewhere in California, Alisyn, as you mentioned, you did have that dramatic fire in southern California impacting the Six Flags Amusement Park, a dramatic brush fire there, as all of the guests had to be evacuated. Crews seem to have that fire under control because the park will reopen this morning.

In the meantime here, with the Sand Fire, containment about 20 percent at this point. The fire has destroyed about nine or so buildings, no residences, about 100 or so people evacuated and crews seem to be gaining the upper hand.

John, we'll send it back to you.

BERMAN: All right, some good news there. Dan Simon for us. Thank you very much.

Now here's what else to watch today.


ON SCREEN TEXT: 10:00 a.m. ET, SCOTUS issues opinions.

10:25 a.m. ET, Warren Iowa plant tour.

2:00 p.m. ET, House Judiciary Mueller hearing.


[08:44:50] CAMEROTA: OK, now to this. President Trump insists that the deal his administration struck with Mexico is a major victory. So what was actually accomplished? We'll have "The Bottom Line," next.


BERMAN: President Trump very much on the defense this morning after reaching a trade deal with Mexico on immigration. The president has been trying to explain the reasons he threatened to impose tariffs.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I spoke with the president of Mexico. I get along with him very well. And we made this deal. But this is very -- this is something the U.S. has been trying to get for over 20 years with Mexico. They've never been able to do it. As soon as I put tariffs on the table, it was -- it was done. It took two days.


BERMAN: That's not altogether clear. "The New York Times" reports that a lot of the things that were agreed to have been in discussions, or already agreed to months previously.

Let's get to "The Bottom Line" with CNN's senior political analyst John Avlon.

The fact the president's explaining, what does that mean?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, Roy Cohn, his former consiglieri, would say when you're explaining, you're losing. Never -- never explain, never complain.

I think the president's been frustrated in a series of tweets over the weekend at "The New York Times" reporting, which basically portrays him as an arsonist who's also the fireman, creating a problem, then putting it out and declaring victory. The reporting showing that Mexico had already agreed to some of the provisions, particularly sending national guards up to their northern border to help stop the flow of migrants, one of the key things the president is touting.

[08:50:20] But I think writ large, if he can conquertize (ph) some of these gains with Mexico, that's something that will resonate with his base. It will certainly resonate with the economy better than the alternative. But he feels acutely frustrated that he's not getting the credit he feels he deserves.

CAMEROTA: Well, I don't know that any credit needs to be bestowed yet. The problem hasn't been solved. So he's focused on the negotiation. And I do -- OK, I think that we should give him a win in the negotiating category because it was either this -- it either happened on Friday or two months earlier, which was also his administration. So that's a win for the negotiating, but is it a win for the outcome and the problem? We don't know if this will actually stem the tide of migrants at the border.

AVLON: That is one of the real sort of contradictions of the Trump administration. Often they'll declare a win in negotiations, but we don't see the actual implementation. The real questions about the actual details. Remember, the USMC, something he's incredibly proud of, renegotiating NAFTA, hasn't gotten through Congress yet. And that's one of the reasons that the threat to raise tariffs on Mexico seemed so out of left field, sort of adding insult to injury.

So, again, don't look at the press release. Look at what actually happens after the fact.

BERMAN: And the question is, did he get something out of this tariff threat, which rattled markets and has shaken the confidence of the business community in a way that may not stop now that the deal is made. Did --

CAMEROTA: And I submit --


BERMAN: Well, hang on.

CAMEROTA: He got -- he got Mexico's attention.

BERMAN: OK. But did he get more with the tariff threat than he would have otherwise? What he did not get was the safe third party agreement, which was, if you were reading the press and the leaks leading up to Friday night, that's what the White House wanted. That was the big concession they wanted. And at least, as of now, they didn't get it.

AVLON: No. And that's, you know, they're going to try to move the attention away from that because there are open items on the to-do list.

But, again, you know, he was also facing major pushback from Republicans for really the first time. Here's a guy who's come in and contradicted all Republican orthodoxy on free trade, but folks have largely gotten away with it. Once you saw the potential of a trade war tariffs with Mexico, on top of the trade war with China, people, particularly a lot of border state, a senator (ph) said, this is unwise. This will be political and economic death for the country, at a time when things have been, you know, having a kind of a rocky patch for the past month. And the China trade war is far from resolved.

CAMEROTA: But to the larger issue, the numbers have spiked under President Trump. That's not what he promised on his campaign. The numbers of people showing up at the border, the U.S./Mexico border --


CAMEROTA: Have spiked, I mean, to record levels. And two of the senators, Democratic senators that we've had on, one on Friday, one today, Chris Coons and Merkley, actually laid the blame at President Trump's rhetoric and at his policy of cutting funding for Guatemala and Honduras and El Salvador.

So, in other words, I mean that -- if he really is the root of the problem for the numbers spiking, we should be exploring that.

AVLON: Well, this is one of the real paradoxes of this populist issue. Border crossings, as John Berman's favorite chart shows us, have actually been declining writ large since 2000. And they've spiked recently under President Trump. So raising the issue is sort of an answer in search of a problem that now has gotten worse under his watch. BERMAN: I do need to get a new chart because they have gone up.


BERMAN: They have legitimately gone up this last year. And there is a humanitarian crisis for the number of people seeking asylum.

AVLON: Correct.

BERMAN: Numbers we have not seen.

But there's something else going on that's been going on since Friday with the jobs report out which showed a revision downward from the previous few months and only 75,000 jobs created. And a real concern now in the economy that there's something going on out there. And the president has been doing an interview this morning where he's been highly critical of the Fed for raising rates before and not lowering them faster now. And I think this plays into the idea of maybe that the United States was willing to give Mexico more than they would have otherwise in this deal because the president may be concerned this economy isn't going to be where he wants it to be headed into the election. The markets are nervous. It might be losing steam. And he's on the attack on the Fed.

AVLON: And, remember, it was just May 3rd Larry Kudlow stood in front of the white House and said, we're killing it on the economy. Then the economy -- the stock market proceeded to tank.

There are real storm clouds on the horizon. The trade war with China is causing a lot of problems, as well as underlying numbers, not only those jobs numbers which dramatically underperform, but questions about manufacturing, not only at home but worldwide.

Look, the president understands his re-election prospects are directly tied to the economy. It's the economy, stupid. But I think what you're also seeing here, look at his comments on -- just a few seconds ago. He was talking about how, well, you know, China, who we're competing with, President Xi, he controls the Fed, speaking sort of wistfully about that kind of power for himself. But Jerome Powell, right now, the Fed chair, is the shock absorber for the larger economy, the administration, basically counteracting some of the president's more irresponsible actions with saying, look, we'll cut rates if necessary.

[08:55:08] BERMAN: Yes, if the economy slows down because of the trade war, he's going to cut rates. It's a really strange tail wagging the dog theory, you know, scenario going on here.

AVLON: That's exactly right. We've never seen wag the dog problems in re-elections, though.

BERMAN: Never before.

CAMEROTA: Thank you for that reminder. We'll do a "Reality Check" on that.

AVLON: Any time. CAMEROTA: John Avlon, thank you very much.

OK, Red Sox legend and Boston icon David Ortiz was shot in the Dominican Republican.

CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto picks up next.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good Monday morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Jim Sciutto in Chicago today.

We begin with Red Sox legend David, "Big Papi," Ortiz. He is safe, recovering this morning after he was shot in the back, this at a nightclub in his native Dominican Republic.

[09:00:05] HARLOW: We also have this new surveillance video in, it is from our affiliate, allegedly showing.