Return to Transcripts main page
Biden Calls Trump a Threat to America; Parallels between Trump and Watergate; Trump Focuses on Biden; Kim Jong-un's Half-Brother was CIA Source; U.S. Envoy on West Bank; Jim Acosta is Interviewed on His New Book. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired June 11, 2019 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[06:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Exclusively about the president.
RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, this -- this can help sort of cement his potential frontrunner status. This is good for Biden, you know. he doesn't wants to be seen as somebody out there trying to get attention from these other 20 Democratic candidates who are also running. He wants to look like the front runner. And, you know, today, he's going to be out there blasting Trump, as if he is the frontrunner.
And, of course, we know he's leading in the polls. And so I think, you know, the next two days, they have the potential to be good for actually both men. You know, "The New York Times" is reporting this morning that the Trump campaign has had a problem getting the president to focus on his own campaign. But actually going after an opponent like Biden and being in a state at the same time as him gives him this opportunity to really rejuvenate his energy and focus on 2020. And so this could help him, as well. And so both men could really benefit from this in their own very different ways.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Carrie, it's interesting, he's also talking about values. That's something that Joe Biden has been talking a lot about on the campaign. He's bringing up again Charlottesville, of course. He's bringing up, again, the family separation, ripping children from their parents at the border. This is really interesting because yesterday, of course, we watched John Dean, the sort of star witness from the Watergate hearings, testify on -- to Congress about -- I mean I -- the Democrats, as you know, are trying to sort animate the Mueller report. And it wasn't that effective for a series of reasons, primarily because breaking news sort of squashed it all, but it's getting mixed reviews. So Joe Biden is just taking it directly to voters and, you know, telling them how he sees the president.
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, yes, sorry, I didn't realize you were coming to me, Alisyn. I thought we were going to video. I can't see you.
CAMEROTA: I'm sorry. My mistake. I should have just -- I should have said your name. I'm -- I'm out of it.
BERMAN: It's the allergies.
CORDERO: Sorry about that.
BADE: It's 6:30 in the morning.
CORDERO: He should be taking it to voters. And, you know, in terms of the -- in terms of the hearing yesterday, what the Democrats -- my understanding, what they're trying to do on the committee is they are trying to tell the story of the Mueller report. They haven't been able to get the special counsel to come testify before them. They haven't been able to get the witnesses, the actual fact witnesses that they want to have from -- who were actually involved in the activities in the White House. So a Don McGahn, an Annie Donaldson, his counsel, Hope Hicks, former adviser to the president. So they haven't been able to get these people in.
And so what they're trying to do is they recognize that most Americans haven't had time to be able to sit down and digest the 400 plus pages of this report and so they're trying to bring in people who have read the report, who have been thinking a lot about this report and what's in it and what the consequences are, both in terms of volume one, the national security issues and foreign influence, and both about volume two, the obstruction issues.
BERMAN: Do you think it's effective, Carrie, because much of the hearing was spent with the Republicans going after John Dean, in some ways for Watergate, you know, attacking John Dean for (INAUDIBLE) guilty to obstructing justice in Watergate?
BERMAN: And also, I wonder, Carrie, if you think they're trying to send a message to Robert Mueller himself, who is reluctant to testify, if they're trying to say to him, you know, Mr. Former Director, if you come up here, this is what you're going to get?
CORDERO: I don't know that they're trying to send that message directly, but certainly someone who observes the hearings -- you know, you sort of come away with it thinking, boy, I wish I was really more hearing from the people who were directly.
I do think that John Dean provided sort of a foil for the Republicans to be able to just attack him based on his history and -- and sort of take things back to the Watergate. But I do think that the former prosecutors -- there were two other witnesses who are former U.S. attorneys and they were able to methodically go through elements of obstruction and how the facts laid out in the report, some of them at least constitute instances of obstruction. And I think that piece was informative.
CAMEROTA: So, Jim, back to how President Trump is feeling about all of this. What he saw with John Dean, as well as what he's about to see with Joe Biden.
Maggie Haberman, our friend at "The New York Times," has an interesting article out today about President Trump's mindset and what he's been doing behind the scenes. He's apparently been calling, using his old, private cell phone, his old advisers, to talk about some of the internal polling that has -- that the White House has that we have not seen yet that show that in about 17 states Joe Biden poses a real threat to President Trump.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and that hasn't really changed, that the president reaches out to this outside team of advisers. You know, he does this all the time. And it's one of the things that drives his own team crazy.
But, you know, one of the things that I picked up on, talking to my sources, is that, yes, they are concerned about Joe Biden. They see Joe Biden as somebody who is potentially going to cut into Trump's base of support. He could speak to people in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and Michigan and those blue wall states that crumbled in 2016.
And so, yes, it's no surprise to me that he's hyper focused on Joe Biden. And I suppose, as you were seeing in this -- these remarks laid out by Joe Biden later today, you're going to see Donald Trump go after Joe Biden big time later on as well, I think, because of the way this campaign has focused in on Joe Biden. You're seeing some of these whispers. And they're sort of shameful whispers out there about Joe Biden's health and so on. It's some of the same stuff that they tried to do to Hillary Clinton back in 2016.
[06:35:22] But as the president demonstrated out in Normandy on D-Day when he talked to Fox News and he was referring to Nancy Pelosi as "nervous Nancy" and so on, he is going to be talking about, quote/unquote "sleepy Joe" for days on end now because he really sees him as perhaps the most existential threat right now in that huge field of candidates for the Democrats.
BERMAN: I have to say, I think the Biden campaign knows this and is trying to stir the pot a little, trying to maybe perhaps egg the president on to say even more when he goes to Iowa today.
ACOSTA: I think that's right.
BERMAN: And, Rachael Bade, you know, we've all covered campaigns. I haven't seen a full speech released at 6:00 a.m. for a long time.
BERMAN: And it's been a long time since we've been given a full speech --
ACOSTA: You won't see one from Trump, you know.
BERMAN: No, you never do.
ACOSTA: That's right.
BERMAN: But it's because the Biden campaign wants this out there and wants the president to know when he arrives in Iowa what he's facing. BADE: Yes, that's exactly right. Again, it just goes back to making
himself look like the frontrunner. He's really ahead of the pack. The president -- he's the threat to the president. He's the one that Trump is worried about. And that's, again, what we're seeing reflected in the reporting. I mean I think we got a little bit of a preview of this a couple of weeks ago when the president was in Tokyo and basically was like, you know, I agree with Kim Jong-un, the dictator, who said he, you know, was making fun of Joe Biden and he has a low IQ. That was so rare to see a president attack a political foe on foreign soil. But, again, it just speaks to the president seeing Biden as a threat.
BERMAN: I will say, if you're willing to do that on foreign soil, willing to say what he said in Normandy, Iowa, all bets are off.
ACOSTA: That's right.
BERMAN: You're allowed to say stuff in Iowa.
ACOSTA: And they will.
CAMEROTA: Katy bar the door, as Joe Biden would say.
BERMAN: All right, Carrie, Jim, Rachael, thank you very much.
A nerve gas was used to murder Kim Jong-un's half-brother. U.S. officials say Pyongyang was responsible. But now a new report gives a shocking clue as to why.
[06:41:04] CAMEROTA: "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting that Kim Jong-un's murdered half-brother was a source for the CIA. He was poisoned in a nerve agent attack at Malaysia's airport two years ago.
CNN's Paula Hancocks is live in Seoul, South Korea, with more.
What have you learned, Paula?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, according to "The Wall Street Journal," they are saying that there was a connection between the CIA and Kim Jong-nam. Although they admit that there are many details about this relationship that they simply don't know about at this point.
Now, we do know, when the cold case was ongoing for those two women who smeared the VX nerve agent on Kim Jong-nam's face back in February 2017, in that international airport in Malaysia, the defense lawyer actually brought this up in court. He did say that he believed Kim Jong-nam had met with what he suggested could be an intelligence agent. But we didn't have confirmation at that point from the police. They weren't keen to make comments on that in public. So, certainly this is something that has been around for a while, the
suggestion of it. And it's also something that "Washington Post" reporter Anna Fifield has mentioned in her book about Kim Jong-un, "The Great Successor," and certainly it's something that officials would be looking at.
Some experts we've been speaking to today say they would be surprised if the CIA hadn't spoken to the half-brother of Kim Jong-un.
John, back to you.
BERMAN: All right, what a story. New twists every day. Thanks so much, Paula.
The U.S. ambassador to Israel facing a major backlash this morning after saying that Israel has the right to annex parts of the West Bank.
CNN's Oren Liebermann is live in Tel Aviv with the details on this.
Oren, what have you learned?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, it's the word you used right there that has raised eyebrows and infuriated Palestinians, that Israel has the right to annex parts of the West Hank. He made the comments in a long and wide-ranging interview with "The New York Times." But if he said nothing other than this line, it would have made headlines on its own. He said, under certain circumstances, Israel has the right to annex parts, but unlikely all of the West Bank.
It's known that Friedman is right-wing. He's openly pro-Israel and an ardent supporter of Jewish settlements on the West Bank. In fact his name is even on a settlement building. But this bucks some five decades of U.S. foreign policy and goes against the position of the international community and international law, which holds that the West Bank is occupied territory and part of a future Palestinian state.
Palestinian leaders were infuriated. PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat said on Twitter of the Trump administration, their vision is of annexation of occupied territory, a war crime under international law.
The timing of these comments also can't be ignored. It's just two weeks before the Bahrain conference where the Trump administration will unveil economic parts of this peace plan. And one has to wonder, Alisyn, if this is part of that peace plan, annexation of parts of the West Bank.
CAMEROTA: Oren Liebermann, thank you very much for that reporting.
President Trump's war with the press started during his campaign and never ended. CNN's chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, has a new book out today with insight into what it is like to work as a journalist in this White House. Jim Acosta is back with us next.
[06:48:02] BERMAN: All right, the breaking news this morning, we've just been given the full speech that Joe Biden, the former vice president, plans to deliver when he visits Iowa today. And it's a speech all about President Trump. Going through issue by issue and drawing a line between his candidacy and the current president.
And one of the things that the vice president will do is talk about the attacks on the press. Let me read you a little bit of this. He goes, enemy of the people, these aren't words to be laughed at or dismissed. Just look at what's happening around the world. Dictators and tyrants are using Trump's words to justify their own abuses of power in their countries. Trump's goal is simple, discredit the news, discredit the free press, and he gets to run rough shot over America.
It just so happens, there is a brand-new book out today entitled "Enemy of the People," written by our friend and colleague, CNN's chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta. "Enemy of the People: A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth in America."
And Jim is back with us this morning.
It was interesting to hear the former vice president highlight the very same thing you do in your book. Why is the book titled this? What argument are you making?
ACOSTA: Well, the book is not about me. It's not an autobiography. I don't consider myself to be the enemy of the people. I don't consider us to be the enemy of the people.
Really, the book is a call to the country to say, do we want to go down this road, where we refer to other people as our enemy? And, in this case, I'm talking about the press.
And we've all grown up in a country over the last couple of generations where, yes, both sides, Republicans and Democrats, they get frustrated with us from time to time, but they've never elevated their attacks on the press to this level. And as I write throughout the book, and as I detail in various episodes, you know, there's been an escalation in the volatility directed at us. We're receiving death threats and all sorts of things.
And, you know, reporters should not be going to Trump rallies with bodyguards. That is not the world we want to live in. And if we have an incident where a reporter is injured or, God forbid, killed in this country, I think we cross over into a new category of countries. You know, we're going to join another league of nations around the world where the press is not safe to do its job. And, my goodness, can we imagine a way of life like that? It's not like the one that we have right now.
[06:50:18] CAMEROTA: One episode that go so much attention, that continues to get so much attention between you and the president was in the aftermath at the tragedy at Charlottesville where an innocent woman who was going to protest was mowed down by someone who was sympathetic to the neo-Nazi side. ACOSTA: Right.
CAMEROTA: You tried to ask the president about that. And let's just remind people of what happened and what he said at that moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: They showed up in Charlottesville --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Excuse me.
ACOSTA: To protest the removal of that statue.
TRUMP: Excuse me. They didn't (INAUDIBLE) themselves down as (INAUDIBLE). And you had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: That has continued to, obviously, make news, the fact that President Trump thought that there were very fine people on both sides.
CAMEROTA: But already you could see that he was annoyed with you and your question.
CAMEROTA: And what was it? What was the moment where he started singling you out, where he started to think that you, in particular, were enemy of the people, as he says?
ACOSTA: Well, and we should point out in that moment there, I said right back to the president, Mr. President, there are no fine people in the Nazis. And as I write in the book, I didn't put that in the form of a question because I don't think there's a debate there. There aren't two sides to a story when it's a matter of right versus wrong. But a lot of this started, guys, and you guys remember this, at that press conference right before President Trump was sworn into office and he called all of us fake news. And what was the story about? What was he so upset about? It was the story that CNN broke that said that the intelligence community had gone to the president-elect and said, Mr. President, the Russians may have compromising information on you, this may be a problem for your presidency, and he blew up at us.
And what has happened since then? It's continued to be a legitimate story where legitimate questions had to be asked.
BERMAN: I'm going to ask you about this because you address it in your book. In fact, it's one of the themes of your book. You know there's criticism --
ACOSTA: Yes. BERMAN: Of the way you -- you do -- you personally have decided to do your job. People say, Jim, you shouldn't make yourself the center of the story. You make it too much about you. Grandstanding is a term that's thrown out there. And, again, I'm saying that because you write about it in the book here.
BERMAN: And the book is an answer to that. What is the answer?
ACOSTA: Well, I mean, I do want to mention, there is one funny episode during a press pass case, when Ted Olson, you know, of the Bush v Gore case, he was one of our attorneys representing us in that whole ordeal, and he came up to me at one point and said, grandstanding in Washington, Jim, I can't believe there was grandstanding going on at the White House.
CAMEROTA: He was shocked -- shocked.
CAMEROTA: He's shocked, yes, that there's gambling going on at the casino.
But, no, to deal with that question seriously, I mean, one of the things that we've been up against, you know, "The Washington Post" fact checker recently found that the president has made approximately 10,000 false or misleading statements since coming into office. Now, can you imagine a world if we lived in where we just didn't fact check those things, where we just allowed all of that to go on into the ether? What kind of a world would we be in right now? What would be our concept of the truth and reality?
And one of the things that upsets the president, his team, his supporters, and apologists and propagandists is that we spent a lot of our time fact checking these things in real time and saying, no, Mr. President, pants on fire. No, Mr. President, that was a lie.
And as I say throughout the book, some of these falsehoods have to be called lies. When they're said over and over again, and the fact checkers point out, Mr. President, this is not true, well, guess what, those are lies. And that has put us in the crosshairs of this administration. And what I hope that people around the country and around the world who read this book take away from this book is that we are just here to do our jobs. It's a job. We're here to hold their feet to the fire and make sure these leaders are held accountable. And I think that task is more important now more than ever.
CAMEROTA: Well, the book is fantastic. It's called, "The Enemy of the People." You peel back the curtain for what it's like to really have our jobs at the moment and for what it's like behind the scenes at the White House. I think the readers will really enjoy it. Jim --
ACOSTA: And I'm grateful to all of you, too. Thank you.
BERMAN: Oh, it's a great read. Honestly, I really enjoyed reading it. So, thanks so much for being with us.
ACOSTA: Thanks. Thanks so much, guys.
BERMAN: All right, we're getting our first glimpse of what could be the 2020 matchup, or certainly the matchup that Joe Biden wants to see in 2020, between the president and the former vice president.
We just received a copy of the remarks that the former VP will give later today. They are searing. And he's doing this for a reason. He goes right at the president. That's next.
[06:58:16] CAMEROTA: So, is there some secret agreement between the U.S. and Mexico?
BERMAN: Is there?
CAMEROTA: Well, the president says yes. Mexico says no.
Here's what the late night comics think.
BERMAN: Do they know?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Trump now says there's a secret agreement with Mexico that nobody knows about, not even him.
I don't think Trump's base would have had any awareness of this story if he hadn't brought it up. It's like texting everyone in your phone, please don't look at this picture of my pants falling down, which is attached.
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": On Saturday, "The New York Times" reported that Mexico agreed to take these border actions months before Trump announced the tariff deal. So the threats of tariffs, the negotiations, the deal itself, were all fake. It was -- it was like some sort of theater. In this case, the lying king.
So Trump was just taking credit for deals that were already in place. I'm so proud to announce that the Berlin Wall is coming down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: That's pretty funny.
BERMAN: "Hakuna Matata." I love the song. I don't know if the president's going to sing that.
CAMEROTA: Who doesn't? It's so catchy.
BERMAN: All right, thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, CNN "TALK" is next. For our U.S. viewers, former vice president -- we were just given a speech that he plans to deliver tonight. It goes right after the president. They are both in Iowa today. NEW DAY continues right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: President Trump and Joe Biden both heading to Iowa today.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our president is the divider in chief.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would be foolish to assume that a sitting president is easily defeated. This is going to be a very difficult fight.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Democrats have finally started to get documents they have been demanding for some time.
[07:00:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You sit before us here with no knowledge of a single fact on the Mueller report.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Trump administration is in fast competition with what.