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Trump Slams Biden Ahead Of Competing Events In Iowa; Trump Slams Pelosi For Attacking Him While In Europe But He Attacked Pelosi At The D-Day Ceremony; Report: Kim Jong-un's Poisoned Half-Brother Was A CIA Source; Biden Speaks In Iowa As He And Trump Trade Jabs. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired June 11, 2019 - 13:30   ET


[13:30:00] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: That's the whole point. And then the health. Let's be honest, both of these guys are older. Both of these candidates are up in years. And Trump himself has some vulnerabilities when it comes to health, elevated cholesterol levels, issues looking at his heart health, where it could be a lot better.

What do you think when you hear him making this argument?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Well, the first thing -- the first thing I hear is, despite what he's saying about his concern about Joe Biden's challenge to his re-election effort, you don't do this about someone that you don't think has a legitimate shot at being a true competitor.

I mean, this is -- it's -- it's a giveaway. It's a total tell, right? He can say until he's blue in the face that he thinks he could beat Joe Biden easily, but all evidence to the contrary from the president himself, you do this against somebody that you're trying to frame because you see them as a real formidable foe.

KEILAR: Yes. Thou doth protest too much.

CHALIAN: Exactly.

KEILAR: That he's saying he isn't worried about him.

ELIANA JOHNSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. There's clearly project going on from the president talking about things he's worried about himself. We know he's told campaign aides that he's tired. He doesn't want to be dragged across the country to do lots and lots of rallies which is something he said four years ago.


JOHNSON: Right. The president has said this.

So when he says Biden is weak, he doesn't have the mental capacity to do this, trump himself is flagging after three years almost as president.

But also, when he says Biden is the weakest of these 23, 24 candidates, that is not true. You don't hear the president talking about Marianne Williamson and John Delaney the way he's talking about Joe Biden because he's concerned about Joe Biden. He considers him a real competitor.

You don't hear him talking about the other strong contenders, like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg the way he's taking about Biden.

Biden is clearly I think the person the president is most concerned about right now because of his strength in the Rust Belt and in some of the Midwest states that President Trump won unexpectedly in 2016, but won for Democrats in the midterm elections.

KEILAR: We saw, in 2016, this approach by President Trump, which I think you could -- you could describe as below the belt, labeling candidates, raising questions kind of out of thin air about things when there's no evidence to support what he's saying. But when he says it over and over, it's something that starts to take hold. And you see it in dark spots of the Internet and it bleeds into sort of mainstream areas.

With what we're seeing him talk about, David and with Joe Biden having to figure out a strategy to combat this, how -- how does Biden do that?

CHALIAN: See, I think you raise -- I think you raise such a fundamental question that all of these Democrats are grappling with right now, which is how do you best effectively counter Donald Trump?

What we see from the remarks that Joe Biden's campaign released today he's planning on calling back and saying that he's an existential threat to the country, that he employs childish tactics, that the cashier at Target knows more about the economics in the country than does Joe Biden (sic). That's an approach that Hillary Clinton tried as well. Maybe Joe Biden will have more success with it. I don't know. But it's one approach.

I'm curious to see how other Democrats sort of take their moment against Trump and size them up because it's not entirely clear that Joe Biden's approach will be the best approach.

What we saw in 2018 from Democrats that won back the House was to not to enter the Trump vortex too much, to try to avoid talking about Trump, because he's everywhere in a constant presence in voters' minds and, instead hone in on some issues that were really important to voters, health care, and what have you.

And is Joe Biden falling into a trap by going so hard after Trump? I don't know the answer to that.

KEILAR: That's a really good point. Maybe he'll start to change his strategy quickly. That will be the question. If it isn't working, does he change it quickly?

JOHNSON: He's ready to get into the mud and wrestle with the president. It's so interesting because I think you see Nancy Pelosi is taking a

different strategy, where's she acts like the president isn't worth her time and attention. He's beneath contempt. She doesn't want to waste her time on impeaching the guy. That's a pretty effective strategy.

You saw when Manu Raju was pressing her to talk about Trump, she said, I'm done talking about this. I don't want to talk about him. That's not the approach that Joe Biden is taking.

And I think it will be interesting to see if his approach works on the presidential campaign trail. But you saw what happened to Republicans who tried to do that in 2016, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, some of the early candidates who called him a cancer on the Republican Party. Rick Perry and Rand Paul both did that.

It's hard to -


CHALIAN: -- in his cabinet. But, yes.

JOHNSON: Well, it's hard to be dirtier than Trump in this kind of back and forth. And so it tends to be a losing game for those who play it. But it will be interesting to see if Biden can beat Trump at that game.

KEILAR: Can you out-Trump Trump?


KEILAR: It's a very good question.

And Trump did go after the House speaker. He went after Nancy Pelosi.

Let's listen to that.


[13:35:06] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Pelosi attacked me. She was here and she made a horrible statement that I'm sure she wishes she didn't make. She made a horrible statement while I was with the queen of England, while I was with -- while I was with the president of France. And you're not supposed to do that, OK. But the ones that committed the crimes are the Democrats and others.


KEILAR: All right, Manu. Manu Raju, just to lay out the double standard for an important fact-check.

We saw the president before the graves in Normandy attacking the House speaker during an interview. So certainly, this is some advice that he's giving the House speaker that he's not taken himself. But what did you think about what he said? MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right.

He launched that broadside on national television sitting at the American cemetery in Normandy during a very solemn occasion, the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

Nancy Pelosi, when she was overseas, she side-stepped questions about the president. The comments about her saying that she would rather see the president in prison rather than being impeached, those were made in a private meeting on Capitol Hill with leadership staff and first reported by "Politico." That's how it got out there.

But today, when I had a chance to directly ask her about that, the first time that we've had to directly ask her about those reported comments, she made very clear she did not want to say that publicly. She sidestepped the comment.


RAJU: You actually say that the president, you would rare see them in prison.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: When we have conversations in our caucus, they stay in our caucus. Do people think there's impeachable offenses that the president committed? Yes. How serious are they, are they criminal? Many people think they are.

RAJU: Do you think they are.

PELOSI: That's not the purpose -- I'm here to talk about --

RAJU: And we will get into that, I'm not saying that.

PELOSI: I'm not going to that place of what happens within our caucus.


RAJU: So she didn't want to talk about whether the president committed crimes, whether or not she believes that the president is in jail. And she pushed back at the notion of opening up an impeachment inquiry saying that, instead, there's a current round of investigations and fight things in court. That's the best way to go forward.

She did say every time the president attacks her she said, quote, "my stock goes up every time he attacks me." And called him the diverter in chief trying to distract from the issues.

And as you heard from the president, that set him off again and attacked Pelosi for those comments, saying she's, quote, "a mess." So he is still ready to go after Pelosi even as she tries to sidestep a lot of criticism, keep it behind closed doors and tamp down talk of impeachment.

KEILAR: Trying to some project unity.

Manu Raju, on Capitol Hill, thank you so much.

It's really interesting to listen to that interview of Manu's, having watched the president on the South Lawn. He's criticizing Nancy Pelosi about her behind-closed-doors comments to the committee chairmen who are in charge of these investigations of President Trump on the Hill where she would rather see the president in prison than impeached. She's dealing with these competing pressures, for sure, within her caucus.

What did you make of it, Eliana, that she did not want to talk about it, and President Trump said, I think she regrets it, is essentially what he said, that I bet she wishes she hadn't said that.

JOHNSON: It seems to me that Pelosi, she's walking a difficult line trying to fend off the left wing of her connection but also let them know that she sympathizes with their feelings. And I don't think it's an accident that that comment that Pelosi made to her chairman leaked publicly.

But she also wanted to be able to say she didn't make this comment publicly, she made it behind closed doors and didn't want to expound on it to the news media and otherwise. And that's what you saw her hiding behind, because the president was oversees when she made the comment. The president, then overseas, criticized her publicly and she was able to say what he did was really inappropriate.

She sort of got caught off guard and I think she was able to protect herself by saying, what I say to my members is private and that's that.

[13:39:20] KEILAR: Let's take a quick break. So much going on today as we saw President Trump speaking for many minutes, about 20 minutes, on the South Lawn.

We'll be back in just a moment.


KEILAR: The CIA is not commenting on a stunning report that Kim Jong- un's half-brother was an agency defector, a defector from North Korea, who would have had some interaction with the CIA at the time of his death.

According to a the "Wall Street Journal," Kim Jong-Nam met with CIA agents in Singapore and Malaysia. A "Washington Post" journalist also claims hotel security footage shows Kim meeting with a man reported to be a U.S. intelligence agent shortly before Kim's death in 2017. CNN has not independently verified those reports, however.

Kim's murder was caught on camera. Two women smeared his face with a nerve agent in a Malaysian airport. South Korean, Malaysian and U.S. officials say North Korea was responsible but Pyongyang has repeatedly denied any involvement.

President Trump weighed in on the report just moments ago.


[13:45:09] TRUMP: I saw the information about the CIA with respect to his brother or half-brother, and -- and I would tell him that would not happen under my -- under my auspices. That's for sure.


TRUMP: I -- I wouldn't let that happen under my auspices.



KEILAR: Let's bring in former CIA operative, Bob Baer, to discuss all of this.

I want to ask you about his comments there. When he's saying that he would assure the dictator of North Korea that he wouldn't have done what, I'm sure from your perspective, would be very important necessary intelligence gathering from an American perspective, what does that signal?

BOB BAER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, first of all, he would have to deny it, you know. Admitting that we met the half-brother would be a compromise, so he's obligated to just lie about it. And that's what happens in the intelligence business.

But if the CIA didn't meet the half-brother, it would be completely negligent. He would have been gold scene of intelligence. Anything from using him for targeting against palace in Pyongyang to the psychology of his half-brother.

Because remember, Brianna, that country is a black hole. Anybody coming out, the CIA or our allies would want to sit down and talk with him. It's standard.

KEILAR: So he was a defector. But there's an issue with that, right, because he had fallen out of favor with the regime, and this was several years ago when this happened, two decades before his death.

What would the CIA have to gain from meeting with someone who is so far removed at that point in time from North Korea's inner circle?

BAER: Remember, Brianna, that the CIA agents or case officers cannot go to North Korea. I mean, very basic things.

For you and a lot of people, it seems like, is this really worth it. But is is. I mean, the names, the communications equipment, who his brother is close to, what -- it's -- getting inside that family, the Kim family, is virtually impossible. So this guy coming out, basic details, but very important.

And even though they are dated, they are still filling a lot of gaps. And for analysts to predict what Kim Jong-un is going to do next, the half-brother would be absolutely key. He would be a very useful source. KEILAR: Do you think it's possible that North Korea knew about those


BAER: That's the problem, is did they kill him for that reason? Did somebody in Singapore or Kuala Lumpur pass on that information? Did North Korean intelligence? That's always a possibility. Their intelligence service is very active and very aggressive.

And -- and, you know, if Kim Jong-un thought that he had defected or was talking to the CIA, that would be enough to get him killed.

KEILAR: You saw the president say that he had gotten a letter from Kim Jong-un. We don't know when that was. We know that this relationship has been strained. We know that there's not been progress at this point in time between the two nations -- between these two nations.

The revelations about his half-brother talking to the CIA, is that going to affect things here between the U.S. and North Korea and future attempts for more talks?

BAER: Oh, it's going to be hugely damaging. Kim Jong-un is paranoid. He may jump to the conclusion that there are other people in the regime, his relatives that are talking to the CIA. You know, I wouldn't be surprised there's some sort of crackdown, you know.

Yes, this will make relations very much worse, this revelation.

KEILAR: Bob, thank you so much for your expertise. We appreciate it.

BAER: Thank you.

KEILAR: And moments away from a news conference at this point in time by national transportation safety officials about that deadly helicopter crash in New York City. We're going to have that live.


[13:52:40] JOE BIDEN, (D), FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: would be a clarifying event because Iowa farmers have been crushed by his tariff war with China. And no one knows better than the folks in Iowa.

He thinks that being tough is great. But really, it's easy to be tough when someone else absorbs the pain, farmers, manufacturers, the automobile industry.

The fact is, he backed off this threat on tariffs with Mexico lately because he realized that he was likely to lose Michigan, Ohio and Iowa. All of a sudden, he is, as we say in southern lingo, had a recall. He's seen the Lord.

But make mistake and, in fact, things get tough again, he's going to start to threaten tariffs again. And to him, America workers, in my view, are just a pawn. They're pawns in his game. And let's talk a little bit about China. Because China poses real

challenges to the United States. And in some ways, a real threat to the United States. But Donald Trump is only exacerbating the threat and the danger.

But the reason I find myself optimistic is that --

KEILAR: You're listening there to the former vice president, Joe Biden, who is in Ottumwa, Iowa. And this is the battle between Joe Biden and President Trump today.

I want to bring in Brianne Pfannenstiel. She is the chief politics reporter for the "Des Moines Register."

And it is really interesting to watch this dialogue going on. We just heard from President Trump, on the South Lawn, and he hit Joe Biden so many times and you hear Joe Biden firing back from Iowa.

But he's also, Brianne, making this appeal to farmers there, to growers there, when it comes to tariffs.

And this was a similar appeal that President Trump made to farmers in Iowa, saying, we gave them this money, which was really a way to make sure they weren't hit by tariffs.

What is your assessment watching this appeal that both of them are making?

BRIANNE PFANNENSTIEL, CHIEF POLITICS REPORTER, DES MOINES REGISTER: Well, I think he's trying to tap into this discontent that Iowa farmers are feeling right now. Certainly, the tariffs have been difficult for them. But on top of that, there has been flooding across the state. It is just been one thing after another for Iowa farmers.

And so for Joe Biden to speak to them and say, look, the president is using you as a pawn is something that could be resonating here. A lot of farmers told us over and over again, look, we're Republicans and we support the president and we hope this works out in the end. But we don't know how much longer we can keep this up. It is really hurting our bottom line.

[13:55:22] And so now Joe Biden, to be here physically present, making this appeal to them could resonate.

KEILAR: And I want to play, as well, a moment, there was a moment where there was a heckler. I believe it was an anti-abortion rights heckler at Joe Biden's event.

Let's listen to this moment.



BIDEN: No, no, no. that's OK. No, no, no! This is not a Trump rally. Let them go.


KEILAR: That was interesting to see him. He's trying to draw this contrast between -- you know, President Trump eggs on sometimes his supporters at rallies. We've seen even some hecklers be injured at rallies.

What is -- is he appealing to Iowa nice here? What is this?

PFANNENSTIEL: Iowa nice is definitely a thing. And I think we saw this from the very beginning. His first speech here in Iowa, after declaring his candidacy, he said, look, we're better than this and we can rise above and restore the moral clarity of this country. And that is a message that we'll be seeing throughout his campaign and this is an opportunity for him to demonstrate that here and contrast it with President Trump.

KEILAR: And obviously, the president's trade war with China has been hitting Iowa, because this is one of the top producers of soybeans, a big exporter to China.

You talked about the farmers and how -- actually hold on just a moment, Brianne.

Let's listen to the former vice president.

BIDEN: That is how we got to where we are.


BIDEN: So, folks --


BIDEN: Folks, we got to build an economy that rewards work, not just wealth. We have to return the dignity of work.

You know, I think that -- look, I believe that the president is literally an existential threat for America for three reasons. One, he is a genuine threat to our core values. And if you wondered about that, remember what happened in Charlottesville. I never thought I would see that happen in my lifetime again.

You had people climbing out of the fields and from under rocks carrying torches, contorted facing, changing the same anti-Semitic bile chanted in Europe and Germany in the '30s, the same exact language, carrying Nazi flags accompanied by white supremacist and Ku Klux Klan. And confronted by decent people who said, not in my city.

And what happened? When he was asked to comment, he said, quote, "There were very fine people in both groups."

No Democrat of the United States, Democrat, or Republican, has ever said something like that. Never. And it was a response heard around the world. Around the world. But most importantly, it is a response heard by our children. Our children were listening.

The idea that we give credit -- look, folks, America was built in the way, we were built with basic core values, decency, honor. Leave the known behind and realizing there are things bigger than you in America and we have to get together and we have to cooperate.

But this is a guy who does everything to separate and frighten people. And it is about fear and loathing. And it is about what he calls people the names them. No president has done something like that for god's sake. I mean, it is bizarre and it's damaging.

And so I think he's genuinely a threat to our core values and he's a threat to our standing in the world.

On the D-Day ceremonies, the D-Day ceremonies, it was astounding to me that he was tweeting a text on everybody, from the mayor of London to Bette Midler. He found time to go after Bette Midler, for god's sake, in the middle of the D-Day ceremony. For real. Not a joke.

And instead of repairing the relationships with our allies, he's continued to damage them. Think about this, no president of the United States has ever, ever, every, since the end of World War II, we built that Atlantic alliance and NATO, never threatened to leave NATO.

Never got after our allies, embracing dictators and thugs, from Putin to Kim Jong-un, calling them my friends, sending love while he's poking the finger in the eye of our allies. What is going on here? This is really dangerous stuff. And it is not easy.