Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Would Accept Foreign Assistance in 2020 Campaign; Two U.S. Oil Tankers On Fire in Gulf of Amman; Number of Americans Dead in Dominican Republic Continues to Climb. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired June 13, 2019 - 10:30   ET



SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): I don't have any idea. I think he's talking about actually something that happened with Mr. Schiff. But I would say this one. When I had contact with someone, that's been reported. First thing I did was, of course I contacted the FBI.

RAJU: Republicans this morning are also equating Christopher Steele's work as a former British agent and his effort to help dig up dirt in Hillary Clinton's campaign, saying that she should have contacted the FBI. Is there an analogy here? Is this analogous?

WARNER: Listen, I would -- I would say, on a going-forward basis, if there are foreign agents trying to intervene in our election, there ought to be an affirmative obligation for any presidential campaign to report to the FBI.

So, you know, I am greatly concerned that we are not doing enough to protect our democracy in 2020. So I think we ought to pass the FIRE Act that would require campaigns to report to the FBI if foreign agents try to intervene in our presidential elections.

I think we ought to pass election security legislation to make sure that there's a paper trail after all of our voting, so there's ability to audit and give confidence to the American people that their votes are really counted. And I think we need to put some guardrails on social media so there's not the ability to use deep fakes (ph) and to create fake identities in the way the Russians did with Facebook in 2016.

I've got legislation in all three --

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: You're listening there to Senator Mark Warner. He is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which of course had its own -- and, rarely, bipartisan -- investigation of Russian interference in the election, which continues.

They just had Donald Trump testifying yesterday on the Hill. And Jim saying, as well, there, that the president's comments endorsing -- accepting foreign help in a U.S. election campaign, he called it "extraordinary" even in a Trump world. So that from the ranking Democrat on the committee. Perhaps more notable, just a short time ago, sitting Republican

Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a friend of the president's, saying the answer to that question, an offer of foreign help, should simply be a no.

So you have a couple of Republicans now, but many Democrats, calling the president out here with some alarm. We're going to continue to stay on that story.

Breaking this morning as well, U.S. Navy on the scene, following attacks on two oil takers in the Gulf of Amman. You can see flames, black smoke pouring out of one of those tankers there. The crews had to be evacuated.

A source tells CNN this is very similar to an attack that occurred last month. In that instance, four tankers were targeted in a port in the United Arab Emirates. CNN Pentagon reporter -- correspondent Barbara Starr joins me now.

The U.S. Navy, playing a major role in the response here. But I am sure, also putting up their own state of alert because of possible -- concerns about possible attacks on U.S. assets there.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Very much. Intelligence assets operating in the area at this hour, U.S. Navy aircraft overhead conducting surveillance to see what exactly is going on.

But earlier today, two U.S. Navy warships got the early distress call from these tankers. And it was the USS Bainbridge, a U.S. Navy warship that was close enough by to move in a tug flagged by the Netherlands, actually.

It was able to get one of the crews off their stricken ship, and then that tug transferred those 21 mariners, commercial seamen, transferred them to the Bainbridge, where they still are at this hour.

TEXT: Oil Tanker Attacks: Kokuka Courageous: 21 sailors on board, one injured; Crew had to abandon ship; Transporting methanol; Was en route to Singapore. Front Altair: Suffered fire following an explosion; 23 sailors on board, no injuries; Transporting naphtha (a type of crude oil); Was en route to Taiwan

STARR: Look, there's a lot of concern here. Who could have been behind this attack. The U.S. has been very concerned about Iran and its proxies in the area. This is -- this is something that has both a national security and an economic impact for everyone. The oil market's responding very quickly, and skyrocketing earlier this morning. Commercial insurance rates for these ships may go up.

These are commercial tankers. These are commercial seamen who work these ships up and down those waters, moving any number of types of goods, including oil, petrochemicals, foodstuffs. These people have no means of defending themselves. They're out on these commercial ships trying to earn a living. And they are having a very rough time of it now -- Jim. SCIUTTO: An enormous economic impact at that chokepoint there, going

into the Persian Gulf. A lot of oil flowing out of there with enormous effects around the world. Thanks very much, Barbara Starr from the Pentagon.

Let's look at oil prices now after these attacks because there are enormous trade implications. CNN business correspondent Alison Kosik joins me now.

Oil's going up.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Oil's up. Oil is jumping about 3.5 percent right now. This is a different story than what we've seen, literally, over the past five months or so. Oil right now, as you can see, up more than 3 percent.

This is a huge turnaround. Because we saw oil actually hit its lowest level since January. It actually hit that lowest level on Wednesday. So we've seen oil actually almost hit -- or hit -- a bear market. So it's looking like tensions to push that oil price up.

[10:35:04] Why did we see the depressed price in oil, first of all? Well, first of all, it was less demand because there's an expectation of a global slowdown. Also, there's increased supply. Here in the U.S., we're increasing our supply in the Permian Basin. That's out in West Texas. That is making up for the effects of the sanctions on Venezuela and Iran. And, quite frankly, global analysts have figured, you know what, all the tensions in the Mideast, we're done. They actually thought --


KOSIK: -- of this yesterday. But not anymore. The problem is --


KOSIK: -- is in this waterway, in this key waterway, 30 percent of the global supply comes out of there. The worry is if this waterway is going to be blocked, how is that supply going to get out. That could disrupt supply --

SCIUTTO: Yes. Absolutely.

KOSIK: -- that, in turn, affects prices.

SCIUTTO: And this is the thing, for folks at home, you notice this right away because it'll be right at the gas pump.

KOSIK: Absolutely.

SCIUTTO: I mean, you're going to see it very quickly.

KOSIK: Oil prices make up 71 percent of that gas price. Yes.

SCIUTTO: Alison Kosik.

KOSIK: You got it.

SCIUTTO: Thanks very much.

It is deadline day for the first round of Democratic debates. Which candidates will make the cut? That's coming up.


[10:40:35] SCIUTTO: At least even American citizens have now died in the Dominican Republic in the last year, according to the U.S. State Department and family members. And 48 Americans died between 2016 and 2018. This comes amid those mysterious tourist deaths and shooting a former Boston Red Sox legend, David Ortiz.

Despite those statistics, Dominican tourism officials are trying to reassure travelers that the Dominican Republic is a safe vacation destination. CNN's senior diplomatic correspondent Michelle Kosinski is at the State Department with more -- Michelle.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jim. Right. So we have seven people. And when you think about it, more than 2 million Americans visited the Dominican Republic last year. So we now have seven deaths that seem to be maybe similar or partially at least unexplained.

It doesn't seem like many, but it's those very similarities that are so disturbing. I mean, these are otherwise healthy people, or what are believed to be healthy people, having great vacations. Everything seems fine. There don't seem to be any problems. And then suddenly they die. And in some of the cases, they were ruled or thought to be heart attacks, or there was fluid in their lungs.

But when you -- when people start to hear these stories and then more and more come out and either say, "Wait, my relative or loved one died similarly" in one of these same hotels, or people that have vacationed there start to say, "Wait, I was in that hotel and I became violently ill not long ago," there starts to be a lot of questions surrounding these.

So the State Department isn't saying much right now, just that the FBI is -- has taken some samples from some of these people. They don't have the results of those yet. But it's difficult to put them all together as time passes.

But what we do know is that there were four people who died in one of the hotel chains. There were two that died in another hotel chain. The seventh person, we don't know. And that is the brother of "Shark Tank" star Barbara Corcoran.

In a couple of the cases, they were thought to be heart attacks, pulmonary edema or fluid in the lungs is another similarity. But those could be symptoms, of course, of something else happening initially.

Also, in three of the cases, the people reported that there were problems only after they drank something out of the minibar. So as you can see, you know, drinking out of a minibar, for example, is something that so many people will do while they're on a vacation in a hotel.

So it's tough to put together a common thread. But there's enough there that there's scrutiny and investigation, now, surrounding these -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Michelle Kosinski at the State Department, thanks very much.

Six men in the Dominican Republic are now behind bars this morning, accused of carrying out a hit attempt on Boston Red Sox legend, David Ortiz.

National police say the suspects were offered $7,800 to shoot Ortiz -- that's all of them together, by the way, splitting that -- a seventh suspect remains at large.

We are also getting an up-close look at the moment Ortiz was shot. Look at this, clearer than prior video, showing the man walking up, raising his weapon right in the midst of that crowd, just shocking to watch and amazing to think that he survived this and is now standing up and walking around.

CNN correspondent Patrick Oppmann is live in Santo Domingo this morning.

These arrests unfolding. Any indication at this point, why Ortiz was a target here?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No. Police say they do not have a motive. They are continuing to search for at least one additional suspect. But they do have the man in that video you showed, the alleged trigger man there, who walked up behind David Ortiz and got off one shot before fleeing on foot.

Police say he has confessed and they actually found the pistol buried in another one of the suspects' back yards. They held it up yesterday at that press conference, a striking moment.

And they said this was not a random violence. This was not something that was carried out in the spur of the moment. This was a carefully planned and executed hit on David Ortiz. It involved multiple people, multiple vehicles.

They showed videos yesterday of the alleged hitman being driven towards that scene on the back of a motorcycle. The motorcycle stops, they get out, they get into a car. One of the two cars that was waiting sort of just a block or so away from the scene of the shooting.

[10:45:00] They get into the car, they talk to somebody and they -- then they go and carry out the crime. And then you see those cars, fleeing immediately after the shooting.

And they say that they recovered a cell phone, that they got -- the motorcycle driver was beaten up, you remember, quite badly by the crowd, to talk and start turning on some of his alleged fellow hitmen here. And that they have made arrests, but they expect more arrests to happen.

The why, though, still eludes us all. Police say that they are not covering up for David Ortiz even though he is a symbol of his country. And one of this country's most beloved baseball players.

And of course, we have yet to hear anything from David Ortiz. Of course, he's recovering from a very traumatic event. The family has asked for privacy at this time. No explanations either here or from Boston, about why this baseball player, who is someone who is so loved in both countries, would have been the target of an alleged hit.

SCIUTTO: Patrick Oppmann on the scene there, thanks very much.

The candidates fighting for a spot in the first Democratic presidential debate, we'll soon find out who will join them on the stage. It's not going to be everybody.


[10:51:03] SCIUTTO: In about 20 minutes, we will find out exactly who is in and who is out of the first Democratic primary debate set up for later this month. And we've just learned NBC, the network hosting those debates, will announce tomorrow afternoon, how those candidates will be grouped.

So far, we know these 20 hopefuls have met the polling and donor requirements, putting them on one of two debate stages in Miami -- they're going to split them up into two groups.

Those who will most likely not make the stage and the cut? Montana Governor Steve Bullock, Miami, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam, and Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton.

Jeff Zeleny has details from Washington.

We're going to know in about 20 minutes. But is there any hope for those other three to make the stage?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, good morning. It doesn't look like there is hope for those three. Governor Bullock from Montana, the only Democratic governor in the country to win in a red state back in 2016, he is going to be excluded from this debate.

He's been making a last-minute effort. His campaign has been trying to publicly argue that he does belong on that stage. But it does not look like he will be able to.

Now, he jumped into the race at the beginning of May. The other candidates jumped in late as well, but there are going to be 20 candidates on-stage and we won't know until tomorrow, the ranking and the order of these.

These debates are going to be on back-to-back evenings at the end of this month. The first debate will be then. The second debate, here on CNN, is in July. But that is going to be important as well.

Who is on stage, for example, with Joe Biden? Who is on stage with Bernie Sanders? Are they on the same evening or are they not? So that is going to be decided on Friday.

But, Jim, this is certainly going to be a clarifying moment, potentially, for this field. It's a chance for someone to break out, perhaps. Or it's a chance for Joe Biden to prove that he is indeed the frontrunner.

SCIUTTO: So as you have that dynamic there, there is a growing conversation about some Democrats about the need for a new generation of leaders. Of course, some of the people talking about that, it served their interests. Pete Buttigieg, talking about a forward- thinking generation. Beto O'Rourke, of course one of the younger candidates, making the same argument.

Does that have any building momentum, as it were? Because candidates are attacking Biden from a number of directions. And I suppose you expect that because he's the frontrunner.

ZELENY: Sure. I mean, it's a gentle way to sort of raise the question, without going after Joe Biden himself, to raise the question of is this a moment for a new face, a fresh face, a different time in the party? And Democrats historically have turned to new leaders. Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, others. So this is a sense, you know, for Democratic voters to sort of stop and think.

But there are big risks of going after specifically Joe Biden on his age. If any candidate was going to do that, they could face some blowback for that.

So what they're saying is a new generation. Beto O'Rourke was talking this morning. He said it's not the time for the past, it's time for the future. Pete Buttigieg makes that argument as well. Of course, they happen to be just about half the age of Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders --


ZELENY: -- Elizabeth Warren is also almost 70 years old. So -- or actually slightly over 70 years old, so this is something that we'll see how voters react to it.

But there certainly is a risk, Jim, of going directly after Joe Biden. So why not mention the new generation? It's a softer approach, if you will.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Well, exactly that's in the polling, right? Because when you ask Democratic voters what their voting issues are, they often put at the top just someone who can beat Trump. They don't --

ZELENY: Right.

SCIUTTO: -- say necessarily that they want someone who's younger. At least in the polling. ZELENY: No question about it. But it is a sense of Democratic

voters, the Democratic Party has generally turned to a new fresh face. We do know -- you know, we don't know if that's going to be the same in this case.

It's why Joe Biden of course, all week long, has been going directly after Donald Trump to make the argument that he believes he's the strongest person to take him on at this point. But it is going to be fascinating to see all of them on the debate stage, to see who stands up directly to Joe Biden's face and says, "You know what, it's time for --


ZELENY: -- "a new generation of leaders." That will be the test.

SCIUTTO: And how does he respond to it. Of course it's a test for many of those one percenters, right? Who are kind of far out of it. But it's also a test for him, to see if he can maintain that big lead.

[10:55:08] Jeff Zeleny, I know you're going to stay on this story. Thanks very much.

ZELENY: Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: The president says that he thinks he would take dirt on political rivals from foreigners. Speaker Pelosi will speak at any moment. Her first public reaction to this. Our crews are on the Hill. That's where she's going to speak, at that podium. Of course we'll bring it to you.

And join CNN's Kate Bennett for a rare visit to the White House to meet those who know First Lady Melania Trump. The CNN special report, "WOMAN OF MYSTERY: MELANIA TRUMP" airs tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time.


[11:00:05] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR, AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN: Hello everyone, I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for joining me.