Return to Transcripts main page


Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) is Interviewed About A Partisan Congressional Hearing and His Presidential Run; President Trump and Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden to Campaign in Iowa Simultaneously; Joe Biden Campaign Releases Speech Presidential Candidate Will Deliver in Iowa; Trump Campaign Reportedly Considering Campaigning in Oregon. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired June 11, 2019 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At Fenway Park in Boston last night, tributes for David Ortiz. He is always going to be a part of that team.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He'll be back with us. He's strong. He has no fear. He never showed weaknesses.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Gentlemen, the show is beginning.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We're starting whether you're ready or not.

CAMEROTA: This spirited conversation that you two are having. Very food.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Fort Madison, Iowa, especially.

CAMEROTA: I see you've seen the error of your ways for the last hour, which we will get into. Good morning, everyone, welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, June 11th, 8:00 in the east.

And we begin with breaking news because it is going to be a split screen day in Iowa. President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden come within 100 miles of each other, and former Vice President Biden does not intend to hold back. We have a copy of the Democratic frontrunner's speech that he will give tonight where he plans to eviscerate the president. At the same time, Mr. Trump will also probably not hold back. He will be addressing a GOP dinner in Des Moines. Biden will charge that President Trump does not get the basics of the economy and the tariffs that he has championed.

He will say in part, here's a quote, "How many sleepless nights do you think Trump has had over what he is doing to America's farmers? Here's the answer -- just as many as he had when he stiffed the construction workers and electricians and plumbers who built his hotels and casinos. Zero." End quote.

BERMAN: Former Vice President Joe Biden will also hit President Trump on issue like climate change, health care, and his, quote, childish tweets, arguing "This president is setting a standard for crude language and embarrassing behavior that is borrowing deep into this culture and is going to take a long time to get rid of it." The Biden campaign seems to be trying to egg on the president, who will most likely respond as both men crisscross the state all day.

CNN has learned that the president and his allies have been, at least they tell us, delighted about Joe Biden's recent missteps. This happens as the president remains concerned about Biden's polling. Also this morning, CNN has exclusive details about the Trump campaign's plan for a new strategy in a blue state that he lost by double digits. The president wants to expand the map. We'll tell you to where, if you can be patient.

In the meantime, we want to bring in Jeffrey Toobin, CNN chief legal analyst and staff writer at "The New Yorker," Dana Bash, CNN chief political correspondent, and John Avlon, CNN senior political analyst. And Dana Bash, first to you. We have got a copy of this full speech from Joe Biden at 6:00 a.m. this morning. He is delivering it tonight. What's going on here with the fact of the speech and message of the speech?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: First, the strategy, as you said right on, there's no question that the Biden campaign wants to drive the day with this, and so far they seem to be succeeding because this is the definition of news, releasing this entire speech. So that's the strategy.

And then the substance. I thought what you pulled out at the beginning there, John, was really the crux of what we're seeing that is so different from Joe Biden. He started out his campaign talking about being the moral compass and getting what's right and wrong back to the right place in America. This is more nuts and bolts and it is more on how people are feeling economically. And he makes it very, very specific to the place he is going in Iowa. And the fact that he connects what is happening and the pain that Iowa farmers are feeling now because of the trade war that the president is in because he's promising a better life down the road with the promises he made as a businessperson. So he's connecting the character flaws that he says the president has with the real economic pain that these people who are going to help decide whether or not the president is going to be president again is new, and I think really fascinating.

CAMEROTA: Let me read another excerpt for everybody. This is where the former vice president sees President Trump as nothing short of an existential threat. Here's what he says. "I believe Trump is an existential threat to America. I've said many times 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. John Avlon, you are our resident recovering speechwriter, you've read through the whole thing. What is his message here?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: This is a very populist speech that doubles down on his identity as middle class Joe. It call outs to the way the Trump Organization allegedly cheated some contractors on their big buildings, aiming specifically in Iowa for farmers, how they're getting hurt by Trump's tariffs and trade wars.

There's also a fascinating thing in the speech because he is trying to clean up a mess he made a few weeks ago where he seemed to dismiss the threat posed by China's challenge to us geopolitically. A significant portion of the speech is all about how he takes the threat, the challenge from China very seriously.

[08:05:06] Also, where the Midwest, particularly Iowa, has been experiencing serious flooding for weeks now, he says that's related to climate change, and President Trump is a climate change denialist, in effect. He says it's time for us to choose science over fiction.

BERMAN: It's a bit of an answer to the question of how do you run a campaign during a good economy, when the economy is doing well, which as you point out those that aren't doing as well or have anxiety, you're talking about the farmers, how many sleepless nights do you think that Trump has had over what he is doing to American farmers. Here's the answer, just as many as he had when the stiffed the construction workers and electricians and plumbers that built his hotels and casino. Joe Biden will say zero.

TOOBIN: Right. I think there are two messages about the economy. One is that there are people that have been left behind, these farmers. And the other message is all the good things he inherited from the Obama economy, and that if you look at the graphs, unemployment was heading down for eight years and it simply continued. I wonder how easy a sell it will be. The fact is for better or worse presidents tend to be evaluated on the state of the economy under their tenure, and it has been good under Trump, whether economically he is the cause of it or not, but that's going to be a challenge.

BASH: Can I throw in a quick yes-but, which we are all talking about the substance of the speech because it is so interesting, but we have to also remember he is still trying to win the Democratic primary by winning the general election. And that's risky business in this kind of atmosphere, running against this kind of field when you are Joe Biden, when you are certainly on top and trying to play this as I'm the guy to go against Donald Trump, and you're assuming, and he is assuming, his campaign is assuming by reading this, by listening to this, the Democratic electorate, the caucus goers in Iowa are going to go yes, I buy that. But it is definitely no sure thing that they are going to buy that, and he's kind of not entirely making the case for why him and not other Democratic candidates.

AVLON: Well, look, obviously we are a long way out from the caucus. But he benefits obviously from enormous name I.D. He doesn't need to punch down. Other successful candidates against an incumbent, I'm thinking Reagan in 1980, really focused fire on the incumbent Jimmy Carter rather than a lot of his fellow party members, Republicans --

CAMEROTA: And his poll numbers at the moment suggest that he --

BASH: At the moment. It's just risky business, though. AVLON: Sure, it is all dicey. But what's interesting is crowded as

the field is, very few other candidates have credibility with that kind of blue collar base of the Democratic Party that Joe Biden does.

BERMAN: I would say it is not a but, it is an and in this case. I think the central theme of his campaign is the general election. He is running on the general election. He wants to portray this as being about electability, I'm the guy who can win, and it is so important that you pick someone who can win because of all these issues that I'm laying the Democrats feel are wrong with the president.

TOOBIN: I am very interested in the line in the speech about climate change because climate change has not been an issue Democrats have focused on, or the news media.

BERMAN: When, recently?

TOOBIN: I mean four years ago with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. And I think back to the debates of both the last two cycles. No reporter has asked a question about climate change. They've asked questions about the budget deficit. And when does climate change, which many people seem to believe is an existential threat to planet earth, when does that become a political issue that is going to divide Democrats and Republicans?

AVLON: Now. Very clearly. And I think the polling shows it. I think it is number two or three issue Democrats in Iowa say they care about is climate change. And I think you're starting to see Midwest farmers in particular, the flooding you're seeing, the wildfires that we've experienced. This is starting to effect folks in a red states and rural America in a way that it hadn't even four years ago as viscerally. And you've got a clear contrast with the president whose official policy is climate change denial policies. I think this is the year that happens.

TOOBIN: We'll see.

BERMAN: Says the guy in the green tie.


CAMEROTA: It's your messaging. It's your messaging.

Dana, we want to ask you about this internal polling. There's some reporting what President Trump is seeing inside his own campaign. And I know you have some reporting on that as does Maggie Haberman. So Maggie Haberman's reporting in "The New York Times" is that there is some ominous looking polling, that Tony Fabrizio, their internal pollster, has showed the president polling that is not promising in about 17 states. And it was so disheartening in some of the states that even I think that he won that the president ordered everybody to ignore that polling, that that polling is not true and to ignore it.

[08:10:05] You have interesting reporting on how the internal polling is going to change what their plan is for which states they're going to hit. BASH: It's more along the lines of what I'm told, what they're trying

to do because the Trump campaign is flush with money, they've got nothing but time while the Democrats duke it out, trying to figure alternative paths to 270. Part of that of course is because there are states like Iowa where the president is going today where he won pretty handily four years ago, and it's not a sure bet this time, never mind Michigan and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. So they're looking for alternate plans.

And I am told that one of the states that the Trump campaign is considering putting resources in is Oregon. Now the reason that's a what headline is because Hillary Clinton won Oregon by 11 percent, beat Donald Trump there by 11 percent. It has not gone to a Republican on the presidential level since 1984. There's no national Republican presence there at all. But they're trying to find ways because they can to test the waters. And I am told that that is a state where they're potentially thinking about because they have all this time and money putting some money, putting some resources in there just to see if it is at all possible to turn that blue state red on a presidential level.

BERMAN: They have infinite resources, so anything makes sense when you have infinite resources. I think the number two thing is that Oregon isn't all Portlandia.

TOOBIN: Yes. Eastern Oregon and eastern Washington are like central Pennsylvania. They're very --

BERMAN: I have been to both Washington and Oregon with Republican candidates campaigning for president because there is often the sense that you could win votes there. I went on a trip with George W. Bush to California when Republicans still thought they could win in California. Part of this is even if you don't really think you can expand the map, you have to look like you're trying to expand the map to get Democrats to compete places where they may not want to.

AVLON: But that's a fascinating choice of a state to highlight. It almost feels like a troll, except that they successfully challenged conventional wisdom in Wisconsin, when everyone thought that was a crazy waste of time and it proved totally decisive. The one thing I'll say, though, is that northwest Republican tradition, Mark Hatfield has been out of office a long time, and Donald Trump has nothing in common with that brand of Republicanism that did do well in the pacific northwest.

BERMAN: That's not who he is campaigning to.

AVLON: Clearly not.

BERMAN: That's not where he is going at this point.

CAMEROTA: Dana, they think New Mexico, New Hampshire, Nevada in play.

BASH: Yes. Those are all states they already have part of the group of 16 states where they already have resources. And those are states where the president, again, lost in 2016, but they think it is much more highly competitive this time around, those states, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Nevada.

Now, the argument that I hear from Trump officials, again, just hold onto your hat, is that they're doing well with Hispanic voters. They insist that's true. We're going to look at polling data to see is accurate, but they insist that it is one of the untold stories of the Trump White House, and that they're able to reach out to these voters. Again, that's what they say they're seeing, which is why states like Nevada and New Mexico are more in play. We'll go out and see that for ourselves.

BERMAN: Hispanic Democratic leaders have been concerned for a long time dating back to midterms that there hasn't been enough direct outreach from the Democratic Party to these voters. So there could be some vulnerability there. Dana, thank you for your reporting. Jeffrey, thank you for just being here. Just the best.

CAMEROTA: For your rosy mood and sunny disposition.

TOOBIN: And love of Iowa.

BERMAN: And John Avlon, great to have you here with us as well.

TOOBIN: I am a happy guy. I try to spread sunshine.


BERMAN: Key Watergate figure John Dean sounded the alarm on the Mueller report, but will his testimony have the impact that Democrats want it to? We're going to speak to a key member of the Judiciary Committee who also happens to be running for president next.



[08:18:23] REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Comparing Nixon to just any future administration, would you say there was a future administration that committed more crimes than the Nixon administration as far as obstruction?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I would say the Trump administration is in fast competition with what happened in the Nixon administration.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: That was former Nixon White House counsel John Dean before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday.

Did his testimony change any minds on whether President Trump committed obstruction of justice?

Joining us is Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell. He's a member of the Judiciary Committee and a 2020 presidential candidate.

Good morning, Congressman. SWALWELL: Good morning. Thanks for having me back.

CAMEROTA: Great to have you.

Be honest, on a scale of one to 10 -- 10 being best -- how successful do you feel John Dean's appearance was in terms of accomplishing your main goal of highlighting what you think President Trump's wrongdoing is?

SWALWELL: It goes to 11.

CAMEROTA: You think it was that effective and that successful yesterday?

SWALWELL: I do. And you know, it is said often that history doesn't repeat itself, it rhymes, and we heard a lot of rhymes yesterday when you put in perspective what the Trump administration has done in just three short years compared to what we saw during the Nixon administration. And it also lays the foundation for where we need to go next to make sure we hold this president accountable and that more lawlessness does not pervade our country.

CAMEROTA: Look, there was breaking news yesterday. There was a horrible deadly helicopter crash in New York.

But did you think that was must-see TV?

[08:20:00] Because your Republican colleagues took shots at John Dean, and maybe they got the best of the day?

SWALWELL: Well, I'm sorry about, you know, the pilot and helicopter crash. You know, I don't think we can set these up as what will play well for television or not. We have a duty to hold the president accountable.

Actually, taking a step back, we tried to put other witnesses that are real time observers to what the president has done, the Attorney General Barr, Don McGahn, Hope Hicks, and we got nothing but empty seats. And so, the president refuses to allow them to testify. So, puts us in a position where, well, we're going to bring in other witnesses in that will testify and layout what the president did, and we're going to persist to get the relevant witnesses in.

CAMEROTA: I'm not actually just being flip about must see TV, I think that Democrats have stated your goal is to create some compelling moments on TV to bring the Mueller report to life because let's face it, that is more effective with sticking with people than having voters read a 400-page Mueller report. So, that is your goal.

SWALWELL: Well, we're not hiring Aaron Sorkin, but I think seeing is believing, having Bob Mueller layout his report, and raising his right hand, describing conduct of the president, and then put forth all the witnesses who saw the president's unlawful acts, that would be very helpful. It is not happening as fast as I would like, but we are winning not just with oversight but also court fights. And it's going to will reach this crescendo, it's just -- again, not as fast as I like, but there's' no avoiding it.

CAMEROTA: What is the crescendo that you're planning?

SWALWELL: We're going to hear from special counsel Mueller. We're going to hear from these other witnesses. There's no law that says that the president can prevent these individuals coming forth, but it does take court victories to get there.

We've had some court victories, it is making its way up. I am confident we're on the right course, we're going to uphold the rule of law, resist the temptation to do Donald Trump justice and just roll over the rule of law, and it's going to come to, again, a crescendo and one that doesn't sound well for the president.

CAMEROTA: What about the people who are not under privilege, the witnesses that you could call? Cory Lewandowski, for instance, Erik Prince, Rick Gates -- are you calling them?

SWALWELL: They are relevant witnesses. And remember, Hope Hicks, a large part of her testimony is not under privilege, and she says she's not coming. So, again, this is a crew that just makes up reasons to not come.

So, we're going to press them in courts. And, again, we will be a stronger democracy because we upheld the rule of law, we did not rush to judgment the way the president does in everything he does. I think at the end of the day, this president is not going to be reelected. He may be removed from office, but our country will survive this.

CAMEROTA: But how would he be removed from office?

SWALWELL: Well, again, he is not going to be president on January 20, 2021, either because voters vote him out or he was impeached and removed from the Senate. This guy is not going to be leading this great country too much longer.

CAMEROTA: But do you think the Senate will remove President Trump from office?

SWALWELL: Well, I'm not one of those persons who says you shouldn't move for impeachment because I know what the Senate is going to do. If you layout the case, you have to put it in there court, and see what they're going to do. But again, I think some people like to play this out, what they think it goes politically.

I think that's really dangerous. I think you take the facts as you have them, do your job, and don't assume you know what others will do when it is time for them to do theirs.

CAMEROTA: Let's move on to Iowa. Today, President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are both in Iowa, fixated on each other. Let me just pull up the polling numbers at the moment.

Your polling numbers are not great in Iowa. You're polling below 1 percent.

Why do you think you haven't gotten more traction there?

SWALWELL: I was born in Iowa, but a lot of family moved to California. So, I need them to go back to Iowa first and foremost. It's also early.

But one thing I do take way from that poll is that gun violence is a top issue now. And I'm running to be a champion for ending gun violence. And I do see an opportunity as I introduced myself to Iowans that being the only candidate calling for a ban and buy back on assault weapons, the only candidate that has a comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence, that's going to resonate not just with Iowans but people across America.

But we're still a long way away from caucuses and they can expect to see a lot more of me.

CAMEROTA: I'm not sure they know you're their hometown boy in Iowa.

SWALWELL: That's my job to make sure they do.

CAMEROTA: Do you think that you do understand President Trump's fixation on Vice President Joe Biden?

SWALWELL: I don't understand, you know, many of his fixations, but, you know, again, this is -- he is a childish president. I don't understand what my two-year-old focuses on most of the day, just impulsively acts. I think we have the same with this president.

CAMEROTA: And about Vice President Biden, do you understand why he -- he has only -- this is his second visit to Iowa today. Do you understand why he is polling so well?

[08:25:00] SWALWELL: Well, he is known. Early polls like this reflect who they know.

He was vice president for 8 years. Got elected to the Senate, I believe, in the early '70s. So, he has been around a long time.

My case is get to know me. You'll see that my wife and I fight insurance companies, we pay off my student loan debt, we worry about sending our kids to school and then coming home safe, and that we could be voices in the White House on those issues because we know those are your issues.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Eric Swalwell, we appreciate having you on NEW DAY.

SWALWELL: Of course. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I love the answer on Iowa, move more of his family back there, he will move up in the polls.

CAMEROTA: Probably.

BERMAN: It's a good strategy.

CAMEROTA: We'll see.

BERMAN: All right. The National Rifle Association engulfed in controversy and internal fighting for months. We'll bring you details about the latest issue plaguing the NRA. That's next.


BERMAN: The NTSB is investigating a deadly helicopter crash landing on the roof of a 54-story New York City skyscraper. Investigators are trying to figure out why the helicopter was flying in restricted air space.

CNN's Brynn Gingras live with the very latest outside the site of where all this happened.

Brynn, what have you learned?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, day one of the investigation, John. We know the pilot's name was Tim McCormick.