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CNN NEWSROOM

Biden To Eviscerate Trump In Iowa Speech Today; NTSB Investigating Helicopter Crash On NYC High-Rise; House Votes On Enforcing Barr And McGahn Subpoenas; Democrats Remain Sharply Divided Over Impeachment. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired June 11, 2019 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: All right, top of the hour. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.

Aides and allies say he is the rival the President fears most. And today in Iowa, democratic frontrunner Joe Biden will take aim directly at President Trump. He will call him, quote, an existential threat to democracy. This is in a campaign speech he will give.

Let me read you a little more from Biden. Quote, we can overcome four years of Trump, but if we give him eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation.

And what could be a 2020 preview, the President is also in Iowa, and he will likely hit back at Biden, you know he will, as the two fight for turf in this key battleground state.

Joining us now, Senior Washington Correspondent Jeff Zeleny joins us, also CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins is live in Des Moines.

So, Jeff, let me begin with you. What is most striking to you from the remarks Biden will give?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, good morning. There's no question that Joe Biden is trying to make this a race between him and President Trump. He wants democrats to see him as the strongest democratic candidate to take on the President and to unseat the President. So he is going after him on with an economic argument about restoring civility to the White House.

But what Joe Biden is also trying to do is distract from his primary race at hand. He has had a very rocky week, the past seven days or so, in his campaign, flip-flopping on the Hyde Amendment, some other matters. So he is trying to sort of brush that aside and say, look, I am the strongest candidate here.

So -- and some democrats, of course, their top concern is finding someone who is electable to defeat the President. But not everyone is sure, of course, that Joe Biden is that person. So we're not going to hear any new policy from him, any sort of new or bolder ideas. He is just saying, look, that President Trump is not the leader the U.S. needs.

The question is, though, do democrats want to hear that or do they want to hear policy proposals and ideas. So he is leading in our latest Iowa poll, Poppy, but it's not nearly as strong as he was before. So he's trying to make the argument against President Trump to help himself among democrats.

HARLOW: All right. And so, Kaitlan, interesting note in The Times this morning, they're quoting Sam Nunberg who worked for the Trump campaign last time around, who said the President views Biden as a failed Vice President who is going to be savaged by the left in the primary to the point of unelectability. Is that what we're going to hear from the President today?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've actually heard that a lot from the Trump campaign, because they think that Joe Biden is someone who is trying to appeal to those middle of the road voters that the President captured in 2016. And they think if he's in this democratic primary doing things like reversing his position on the Hyde Amendment that it's going to push him further to the left and help President Trump in the end.

Now, that's their argument, and that comes as the President sees Joe Biden as his biggest threat to those blue-collar voters. And that is why you've seen the President so consumed with Joe Biden, more than he has been with any other 2020 potential nominee in this race. And that's why he's focused on him so much.

So, of course, the feud that we've seen bubbling up between the two of them is going to loom over both of their visits here today in Iowa, even though, poppy, they're not going to come within 100 miles of each other as they make various stops throughout the state. That's because the President sees Joe Biden as a threat.

So, of course, you can't expect the President to go after him, because we've seen him do it from the South Lawn of the White House, while in Tokyo standing next to the Japanese Prime Minister at a press conference, of course, on Twitter. So you can expect to hear more of that today when they're both in the same state.

HARLOW: Okay, that starts very soon. Thank you so much, Kaitlan Collins and Jeff Zeleny.

Let's talk about this. CNN Senior Political Commentator John Kasich, former Ohio Governor and 2016 presidential candidate. Question mark if he will be a future presidential candidate as well. John Kasich joins me now. Good morning to you, Governor. I appreciate you --

JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning.

HARLOW: I'm not even going to ask you that question. We'll just leave it there. Let's talk about --

KASICH: I'm out here at Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio. It's a beautiful day.

HARLOW: There you go. Let's start with Joe Biden and how he's going to attack the President, a little more from his remarks he'll give. He'll says that cashiers at Target know more about the economy than the President. He'll say the President cares, quote, zero about farmers in Iowa and across the Midwest, no holding back. Is that the best tactic against President Trump?

KASICH: You know, Poppy, the day he announced, I listened to it all. I said that he was setting himself up to be running against Donald Trump, not to be pulled down by these other democrats.

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And he's pretty much stuck to that. And I think he has to be careful that he doesn't get yanked to the left, that he doesn't say, okay, yes, I have to change my position.

But these campaigns go up and down. And I think the Biden campaign probably needs a little bit of oil to get him going again, to be smoother. But, you know, his campaign is going to be about Donald Trump is not good for this country. He tears it apart. That's what you're going to hear. And he's going to set himself up against Donald Trump and try to stay out of the trap of taking the bait from other democrat candidates.

HARLOW: But is it a misstep, Governor, for him to talk so much about President Trump, as if this were already the general?

KASICH: That's what I would be doing. I'd be acting as though it was a general election. And, frankly, look, the strongest candidate in my opinion, and I'm not here to do anything other than to give you my analysis, the strongest candidate right now is Joe Biden. He has to watch if he has gas, they're starting to attack him that he's too old, but you know what, Donald Trump is three years younger. It's not like he's 20 years younger, and age is different today. So I think for Joe Biden to be presenting himself as the standard bearer against Trump, I happen to think it's really smart strategy.

What I found interesting here from the Trump campaign is they are talking about running a campaign in Oregon.

HARLOW: Yes, so that's my next question. This is Dana Bash's great reporting. Let me lay it out for people who haven't read it. She just broke this news, the Trump campaign not relying on the 2016 playbook. Apparently, they think that the Midwest rust belt is not a lock for them. So they're looking at states like Oregon, where Clinton beat Trump by 11 points. No republican presidential candidate has won there since 1984. Is this a Hail Mary desperation move or smart?

KASICH: It may be a faint. It may just be something they say they're going there but they'll never go there. Look, the problem is they have deep trouble in Pennsylvania and in Michigan. I'm beginning to believe those states could be out of reach for Trump. Wisconsin, still leaning against Trump, but maybe winnable, and they're talking about a couple other states. They're talking about New Mexico, they're talking about New Hampshire.

When you look at the numbers, you talk about New Mexico. Okay, they have, I think, the most federal workers in the country, heavy in Hispanic vote. I don't see how they win New Mexico. I don't see how that happens.

So I think they're looking around trying to figure out what's the right path, which tells you that they recognize the fact that they have trouble in Pennsylvania and in Michigan. These are critical states for the Trump campaign.

HARLOW: Can I ask you about China? Because that is something that Biden is going to hit hard in the speech today. He got a lot of grief, not only from the Trump camp, but from some fellow democrats and these voters, when he said a few weeks ago, you know, China is not, quote, competition for us.

Today, he's going to try to re-explain that. He says he doesn't want anyone to misunderstand him. We need to get tough on China, et cetera. Do you think that the Biden camp or Biden himself just misread the bipartisan support for going very tough on China?

KASICH: I don't know what he was thinking. First of all, if you look at the protests in Hong Kong over the weekend, you had like a million people saying -- so here's what's going on for the viewers that are watching here. They want to be able to move trials from Hong Kong into China. Why? Because they want to be able to stop dissent.

If you're a political opponent of the Chinese government, they want to take you to the mainland and lock you in jail forever. And they cheat, they steal our secrets. And this is a problem not just for the United States but the entire free world, the western world. And so to say that this is not a competition, I think, is wrong.

Look, what Biden has to got to be careful of is that he might want this too badly. When you want something too badly, sometimes you're willing to say things or give things up, and it will work against you. Look, people want authenticity.

HARLOW: Do you mean on the Hyde Amendment?

KASICH: I'm talking about on everything. I'm talking about the fact that you cannot want to get elected so badly, because people will smell it. They will say, oh, that authenticity that you used to have, you don't have any more.

And he's got to be very careful that he doesn't try to sell out to those people who scream the loudest in the Democratic Party. Because I think those who scream the loudest, Poppy, are not center left. I think they're farther left. So pay attention to him. But don't begin to flip-flop all over the place, or you'll lose, and then we'll see who emerges.

HARLOW: That's interesting analysis. All right, Governor Kasich, thank you for joining us, always a joy. I appreciate it.

KASICH: Always a pleasure. Thanks, Poppy.

HARLOW: All right. So let's get to that devastating breaking news out of New York yesterday afternoon. The helicopter crash that killed an experienced pilot, shook a Manhattan high rise and terrified thousands about the only thing authorities know for sure is it could have been a lot worse.

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The chopper went down on the roof of a 54-story building in rough weather, in restricted air space. No one else was injured, if you don't count some heart-stopping flashbacks of that September morning 18 years ago.

I'm joined by Brynn Gingras. She's on Seventh Avenue. And from Denver, FAA Safety Inspector and CNN Safety Analyst, David Soucie.

So, Brynn, just update us, if you would, on where the investigation stands. Any sense why the chopper was flying there in this weather?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And that's the big question right now, Poppy. We know that NTSB officials are on the roof of this high-rise, looking over that wreckage. Remember, this is a roof when firefighters arrived, the entire debris field was on fire.

So you can imagine it's going to be a pretty extensive investigation that might prove some difficulties. But what we know is that the pilot took off during horrible weather here in New York City. It's unclear why he thought he might have some visibility once he was up in the air. And 11 minutes later, he had the crash landing here in midtown.

And, yes, the big questions are why did he choose this building, if he tried to choose this building? How did he end up in midtown? Again, this is restricted air space because of Trump Tower being really close to this area, in general, is restricted air space in the middle of Manhattan.

But this was an experienced pilot. His name, Timothy McCormack. By all accounts, he has been a pilot for about 20 years experience. He got his commercial pilot's license in 2004. He most recently was certified as a flight instructor. Unfortunately, he probably has a lot of these answers that officials are looking to get answers to.

HARLOW: Okay. David Soucie, to you. One thing that strikes me is that you point out there are no flight data recorders. So in an airplane crash, if they're able to retrieve that, they can learn a lot. They're not going to have that ability in this, right?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: No, they're really not. Unless there was some direct communication that he had to someone on the ground about why he was where he was and what was going on, there's going to be a lot of questions that need to be answered, and only Tim had those answers, I believe.

HARLOW: Also, it does not appear, David, that the pilot was ever in contact with ATC. Does that strike you as odd?

SOUCIE: Well, it sort of does for midtown but not really. I mean, if you're experienced and you've been in that area in visual flight rules, which this obviously was not, but in visual flight rules, it's very common for someone to be able to take off and move through there. You get pre-certified or the aircraft is preregistered to be operating in those areas and you just look out for each other. It's not really the best of situations. But it is the way it's been operating safely for many, many years.

HARLOW: You know, Brynn, it was back in the 1970s that New York City banned those rooftop helipads, right, on those buildings. So now, you've got three different heliports around the city, about half as many choppers leave from there as used to when the city cracked down. There are officials, including members of Congress, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, for example, who want to ban non-essential helicopters, right? So police, et cetera, maybe journalists would be given that right, want to ban them completely from Manhattan. Is that gaining traction?

GINGRAS: You know, it always gets sparked up again.

HARLOW: Sorry, David, just to Brynn quickly on that. Brynn?

GINGRAS: Yes, Poppy. I think it's sparking up again. You know, every time there is sort of a non-commercial helicopter that goes down, whether it's a sightseeing helicopter or in this case, an executive helicopter, it does gain voices. It's certainly a very dense populated area. And this, as you pointed out to your viewers in the beginning, it could have been a lot worse. I do think it will spark up once again.

HARLOW: Finally, David, are there rules and actual regulations for when a helicopter can and can't take off from a heliport in New York City?

SOUCIE: Yes, there are. There's not -- there is some gray area but not much. I mean, every other operator in the area had stopped flying that day, yesterday. And so it was very surprising that he decided that he would take off. I'm still confused about that.

HARLOW: Okay. David Soucie, thank you for the expertise. Brynn, thank you for the great reporting. Keep us posted.

Still to come, one-on-one with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Our Manu Raju is about to sit down with her. You will see that interview live here in just minutes, where she stands right now on impeachment and her response to the latest attacks from the President. That is straight ahead.

Plus, House Democrats and the Justice Department strike a deal to give congress some of the key evidence underlying the Mueller report. Will it be enough though to keep their battle out of the courts?

And legendary baseball slugger David Ortiz is in a Boston hospital this morning after being shot in the Dominican Republic. [10:15:06]

We'll give you an update on his recovery ahead.

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HARLOW: I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.

And there is a looming court battle between House Democrats and the Department of Justice over the Mueller report that is now at least on hold for a little bit. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler says he has struck a deal for Attorney General Bill Barr to hand over some of the Mueller report's underlying evidence, some of what Nadler calls the most important files related to obstruction of justice.

Despite the agreement, the House will still vote later today on a resolution that would enforce subpoenas on Barr and former White House Counsel Don McGahn.

Lauren Fox is on Capitol Hill with more. So this is, I suppose, a little crack in the stonewalling.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, absolutely, Poppy. But they are still moving forward with this vote today, and that's for a couple reasons. One, they need to be able to enforce that subpoena against Don McGahn in court. They also need to be able to enforce the subpoena to get grand jury information related to the Mueller report.

And then there's one other key piece in this, which is that it would allow committee chairmen to take future subpoenas that are unanswered and go directly to court without having to go to the house floor. That's important. It empowers chairmen and it codifies that into law.

Now, you know, one of the things about this deal that was struck with the Department of Justice yesterday is Nadler says, you know, no further action will be taken against Attorney General Bill Barr if he proceeds in good faith. But Nadler did warn yesterday, quote, if important information is held back, then we will have no choice but to enforce our subpoena in court and consider other remedies.

I would just want to remind everyone that tomorrow in the House Oversight Committee, there's another contempt vote against Bill Barr and Wilbur Ross, the Secretary of Commerce. That's related to another investigation into why there is a question about U.S. citizenship on the U.S. census. Poppy?

HARLOW: Okay, Lauren Fox, all important reporting. Thank you very much.

With me to discuss, Elie Honig, our Legal Analyst and former federal and state prosecutor. Good to have you, Elie.

So what do you make of this deal? Did the democrats contempt threat work or did this just allow the White House Department of Justice to delay for two and a half months?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it's a smart deal. And I think to an extent, the contempt threat did work. It has all the hallmarks of a fair and reasonable sort of deal that you come across in legal circles. Both sides get something.

Barr gets to sort of go against this appearance of stonewalling and he gets out from the threat of contempt. And Nadler gets at least some documents he's characterized them as the key documents. We don't know exactly what he means, but both sides get something and it keeps this from sort of going to the next level.

Now, there are other big disputes brewing, but at least for this issue, I think it's a fair resolution.

HARLOW: Okay. And what about some of those other big disputes, such as Don McGahn actually showing up and not leaving an empty chair to testify, or White House aide Hope Hicks or the Special Counsel, Mueller? You say there won't be a compromise with those folks.

HONIG: I don't see how there could be. They could negotiate around the edges of what those people will be testifying about, but, really, it's just a yes/no. Will they be behind the microphone and will they be giving testimony? And thus far, the answer has been no. And that's why Nadler needs to take strong steps.

And I think today's vote is related to that, to get authorization, to go into the courts and to force them to come in and testify.

HARLOW: Let's listen to a bit of the hearing from yesterday. The House Judiciary Committee held one in a series of hearings about the Mueller report. They called former White House Counsel under Nixon, John Dean, to testify. Dean said there were, quote, remarkable parallels between the Mueller report and the findings compiled in the Watergate scandal. Here's a clip.

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JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: In many ways, the Mueller report is to President Trump what the so-called Watergate road map, officially titled the grand jury report, was to President Richard Nixon. Stated a little differently, Special Counsel Mueller has provided this committee with a road map.

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HARLOW: You think that hearing was a dud. Your word, not mine. Why?

HONIG: I do. Look, they had Richard Nixon's White House Counsel there. I think the one they really need is Donald Trump's White House Counsel, Don McGahn. It's the difference between first-hand witnesses and second-hand witnesses, right?

John Dean said right up front in his testimony, I wasn't here for any of this. I can't tell you what happened sort of behind closed doors in the White House. It's just outsider sort of assessment, versus Don McGahn, the people they really need, that Nadler really needs to fight get in there.

HARLOW: The fact witnesses.

HONIG: Don McGahn, Hope Hicks, Robert Mueller is sort of a mix. But those are the -- that's where the rubber is going to meet the road. Those are the witnesses that will make a difference.

HARLOW: So why spend time on something like this, you're saying.

HONIG: Yes.

HARLOW: Okay. Elie, good to have you. Thanks so much.

After the break, you're going to want to stay around for this. Our Manu Raju sits down one-on-one with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a live in depth interview. That is next.

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HARLOW: Welcome back. So with the House set to vote later today on enforcing subpoenas against the Attorney General and the former White House Counsel, Don McGahn, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insists she feels no pressure to move faster toward impeaching the President. But according to reports, there is a growing split between Pelosi and House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler. Of course, that's where impeachment proceedings would begin in the House, in the Judiciary Committee.

So let's learn more.

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Lauren Fox, back with us from Capitol Hill. I mean, I think if you ask the two of them directly, which Manu Raju will do in just a minute live, I think they would.

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