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Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) is Interviewed About President Trump Saying It's OK to Take Dirt from Russia on Political Rivals; Two Oil Tankers Attacked in Gulf of Oman; President Trump States He Would Listen to Damaging Information on Political Opponents Provided by Foreign Sources; Protestors Throw Rocks at Police After Shooting in Memphis. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired June 13, 2019 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: A U.S. Navy ship was in the area. It was quick to respond rescuing crew members. Let's bring in CNN's Barbara Starr. She's live at the Pentagon with the latest on what's she's learned. Barbara, what's happening here?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to both of you. Those pictures exactly not what the U.S. and its allies in the region wanted to see. These two ships making distress calls that the U.S. Navy picked up earlier this morning, two distress calls, one at 6:12, one at 7:10 local time in the Gulf of Oman in the Middle East.
The U.S. Navy warship USS Bainbridge was in the area and responded to render assistance. We are told by defense officials now 21 crew members from one of the ships is on board the Bainbridge. They had to be picked up when the captains called abandoned ship. They were picked up by a tug, a small tug from the Netherlands that was nearby, and then transferred on to the warship. That accounts for one of the crews. The U.S. is working to try to establish where the other crew may be. There are conflicting reports about that.
Who might have been responsible for this? Look, you have to consider who had the means and the motivation. The U.S. clearly looking at the possibility of Iranian-backed forces in the region may have conducted yet another attack. Obviously very concerned about it, and right now at this hour a U.S. Navy P-8, a maritime patrol aircraft is overhead conducting reconnaissance, trying to look and see what else it can determine from all of this.
The safety of commercial mariners, of course, is paramount. These people are working these ships up and down the waters. They have no means of defending themselves. They are out there trying to earn a living, and they get attacked. So that -- their welfare is a major concern.
But already this morning we have seen U.S. crude oil prices spike, there is an impact on the oil market. We will have to see if the market calms down later tonight. And there most certainly is likely to be an impact on commercial insurance shipping rates for these cargo vessels that are so vital to everyone's economics around the world. Back to you guys. JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I have to say looking at that picture, this
is a big deal, Barbara, in a very sensitive part of the Middle East. Thanks so much for being with us.
Now to what really is a historic admission by President Trump. He said in the Oval Office in an interview with ABC News that if a foreign power, say, China or Russia, approached him with dirt on a 2020 opponent, he would be all ears, and he might not even call the FBI.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: OK. Let's put yourself in a position, you're a congressman. Somebody comes up and says, hey, I have information on your opponent. Do you call the FBI?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it's coming from Russia you do.
TRUMP: I'll tell you what, I've seen a lot of things over my life. I don't think in my whole life I have ever called the FBI. In my whole life. You don't call the FBI. You throw somebody out of your office. You do whatever --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Al Gore got a stolen briefing book. He called the FBI.
TRUMP: Well, that's different, a stolen briefing book. This is somebody that said we have information on your opponent. Oh, let me call the FBI. Give me a break. Life doesn't work that way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The FBI director says that's what should happen.
TRUMP: The FBI director is wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your campaign this time around, if foreigners, if Russia, if China, if someone else offers you information on opponents, should they accept it or should they call the FBI?
TRUMP: I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. There's nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, we have information on your opponent. Oh, I think I would want to hear that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want that kind of interference in our elections?
TRUMP: It's not interference. They have information. I think I would take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I would go maybe to the FBI.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Maybe. That puts the president directly at odds with his own attorney general and his own FBI director and the law.
Let's bring in Errol Louis, CNN political commentator, Bianna Golodyrga, CNN contributor, and John Avlon, CNN senior political analyst. Errol, here we go again. As we gear up for the 2020 election, President Trump just said he would do it all over again. The past three years of the Mueller investigation that consumed Congress and the White House and the media and voters, we could look at it all over again.
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's right, and he has given something else for Congress to do, he's put something else on their agenda, which is to perhaps specifically and explicitly place it into election law, if you get this kind of information from a foreign power, it is a chargeable offense if you don't tell the FBI. You wouldn't want to think that you would have to pass that kind of a law, but perhaps it's necessary. And I guess then the next question becomes, would you sign or veto such a law, Mr. President.
BERMAN: We talked to Katherine Clark who is in the leadership in the House Democrats, and I asked her last hour, does there need to be a law. And she said outright, yes. I think it was a gift to the Democrats from President Trump. Forget the fact that it's a gift to any foreign intelligence agency that wants to attack the United States of America -- we won't forget that, I think it's a big deal, but the Democrats now have a much easier path trying to convince people this is important.
[08:05:07] BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And more frustration, you could argue, for Nancy Pelosi with a lot of her own caucus calling for impeachment, because I think this really does send the alarm within the Democratic Party that something else needs to be done other than pursuing the judicial path, which is what Nancy Pelosi wants to do. And it's also interesting and very telling that I don't think we've heard much at all from Republicans in response to this. This is the president once again saying, you know what, Russians, if you're listening -- forget if it's Russians. Norway, China, Iran, anybody, if you're interested, we're interested, too. We're open for business.
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's exactly right. So Democrats should get busy writing legislation to enshrine this, but Republicans better speak up, because here was the president of the United States behind the Resolute Desk hanging an open for business, open for sale sign about American democracy. For a president who talks big about sovereignty, he just undermined it. For Republicans who like to think they're tough on national security, this is an open invitation for our national security to be violated. And for conservatives who like to call themselves originalists, they can never do it again unless they condemn the president, because this is exactly what George Washington and Alexander Hamilton and James Madison -- John Madison and Thomas Jefferson warned about. They were obsessed with foreign powers interfering in our elections and influencing our domestic debates. The president has welcomed it again.
GOLODRYGA: And by the way, we spend so much time focusing on collusion or obstruction of justice when it comes to the Mueller report. The biggest takeaway, what Mueller began his report with and what he ended with both from the report and from his statement was that Russia interfered, a foreign power interfered and attacked our election system, and this is the president once again not only dismissing it, but welcoming it.
CAMEROTA: Sometimes the president says things to stir the pot, sometimes he says things to provoke. He seemed deadly sincere there.
LOUIS: It came across as a moment of candor. He is in front of an experienced interviewer, George Stephanopoulos had been with him at that point I guess for a couple days. And you get the man talking, that's the job of an interviewer, and I think he just said what was on his mind.
And it also reflected, by the way, somebody who famously comes from outside of politics. So when he throws out this thing that I think many members of Congress will find deeply offensive, that, are you kidding me, any Congressperson would do that. That is so offensive to so many people, some of whom are military veterans, some who have worked in the intelligence services, many who have dedicated their lives to public service. The notion that anybody, just anybody, would take information from a foreign adversary just to win a darn election, it doesn't reflect how politics works, and it doesn't reflect the president understands how politics works.
AVLON: It reflects, though, the way that politics is sometimes a person projecting onto the world around them. And you hear from autocrats around the world this assumption of the worst of human nature. Oh, every country murders and jails its political opponents, let's get real. And so the president is making a statement that doesn't fit the way most folks in public service conduct their lives. And that's one of the really sinister things.
Also to your point, their defense against the "Russia, if you're listening" is the president was joking. This isn't a joke. He contradicted his own FBI director without compunction.
BERMAN: Directly. He said the FBI director is wrong, Bianna. And I think that's one of the big questions today. Overnight there was no comment from the FBI, but Christopher Wray will be asked about this directly. And I think there's a question about what he does.
GOLODRYGA: I don't know if he's going to wait to be asked. I think at some point he has to speak out himself because it's undermining not only his authority but all of those investigators who work for him. All of those investigators who are investigating Russia's interference are now part of the investigation the president wants to conduct between the CIA and the FBI. So they are now under the spotlight. And you've got a president who is saying everything that we've been accused of doing, not only did it not happen, but if it did, it's OK. I think Chris Wray really needs to stand up now not only for the FBI but also for his own dignity. He has stood up before Congress and defied every single thing that the president has said. At some point somebody has to draw the line and he has got to speak out.
CAMEROTA: President Trump, Errol, didn't seem to enjoy the past three years of the Mueller investigation, and yet will not avoid saying something that will trigger one again over. Not a quick study, or how do we explain this? LOUIS: There are a couple of different theories. The one that makes
the most sense to me is that he genuinely has this thing sort of stuck in his throat. He just can't swallow that this report happened. He didn't want it to happen. He tried to obstruct it at every turn, he wanted to fire the people involved. He now wants to smear them, he wants to dismiss it, mischaracterize it, hope that nobody reads it, on and on and on. And really, right from the start, if he had just let it go, if he'd just move on to something else, work on the economy, do your job, he probably would be a lot better off. But he's really throwing red meat, he's really forcing the Democrats in particular into a corner where they're going to have to say and do something.
BERMAN: There's also the possibility that he would welcome the foreign intelligence, that he would be willing to listen. I think we need to take him at his word, and that is I think what members of Congress have to deal with this morning.
[08:10:11] AVLON: Not the possibility. This is -- someone shows you who they are, believe them. When the Mueller report said they were looking forward to benefitting from the results of Russia, even though there was no coordination that was found, that's apparently still very much where the president is at. And so we're facing the prospect of a president in reelection, the most powerful person in the world, who will do anything to be reelected. The idea of all is fair in love and war, there are no rules as far as Donald Trump is concerned with holding on to the presidency potentially. That is a different situation than we've seen.
GOLODRYGA: And it's not just the president, this seems to be an administration-wide talking point. We heard initially from Rudy Giuliani saying there's nothing illegal about taking information from a foreign government. You heard Jared Kushner really not know how to answer that question a couple weeks ago. And you even heard from Attorney General Bill Barr when asked by Senator Coons in his testimony, it took him quite a few moments before he answered finally that, no, that wouldn't be acceptable. But it wasn't the quick response one would expect.
LOUIS: Needless to say, if they think this is going to be the margin of victory, they are badly misreading the politics, they are badly misreading the Electoral College, the polls, and every other part of the race.
CAMEROTA: They're not only misreading the polls, they are denying the existence of the polls. There is some new sound with President Trump who was asked by George Stephanopoulos about what he thinks about the polls where he is losing to his Democratic rivals, and he had an interesting response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't believe those polls. There's no way he beats me in Texas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But even your own polls show you're behind right now, don't they? TRUMP: No, my polls show that I'm winning everywhere.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have all seen these reports. There were 15 out of 17, you spent $2 million on a poll, and you're behind in 15 out of 17 states.
TRUMP: Nobody showed you those polls because those polls don't exist, George. Those polls don't exist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Deny that the polls exist, Errol.
LOUIS: The emperor's new polls. I guess nobody wants to tell him that he's got a real serious problem here. At best I think you could say perhaps he is only looking at polling of his base. Among Republicans he is extremely popular. There is no way that Republicans in Texas are going to turn against him. So some of this if you want to twist and contort it you can try to make it true.
The reality is he's got a serious political problem. It's popping up all over the place in areas that he has to try and win in the Midwest, in some of these states like Arizona that have been trending Democratic in some respects. If he wants to deny it, we've all seen politicians do this before. It's usually sort of a bad outcome for them on Election Day.
BERMAN: Errol, Bianna, John, thank you very, very much.
We are following breaking news from Memphis. Overnight two dozen police officers were injured in clashes with protesters. This all began after a U.S. marshal shot and killed a man they say rammed their cars multiple times then got out of his car with a weapon. CNN's Martin Savidge has the very latest for us. Martin, what's going on here?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. This took place in the north Memphis neighborhood of Frayser. It was when U.S. marshals were trying to make an arrest, instead it turned into a shooting that turned fatal for the arrestee. And that's when protesters showed up on the scene. Some started throwing rocks, and as you point out, 25 police officers were injured, some of them so seriously that they had to be taken to hospitals, six of them, and two civilians were injured as well, apparently journalists according to the mayor. Tennessee Bureau of Investigations now has to figure out exactly what happened. Here is their initial statement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLI MCALLISTER, TBI SPOKESPERSON: While attempting to stop the individual, he reportedly rammed his vehicle into the officers' vehicles multiple times before exiting with a weapon. The officers fired, striking, and killing the individual. No officers were injured.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SAVIDGE: Now, the mayor of Memphis is asking for calm, saying that people shouldn't react until they know all of the facts, but it's going to be another very nervous day in that north Memphis neighborhood where emotions are still very raw, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: All right, Martin, please keep us posted as to what's happening there.
Meanwhile, in politics Democratic leadership, as you know, has advocated against starting impeachment proceedings against President Trump. But will President Trump's latest remarks change the equation? We ask a Democrat on the intelligence committee next.
[08:18:33] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: In a new interview with ABC News, President Trump suggests he would be open to accepting help from any foreign country that claims to have dirt on his opponent.
His remarks prompting some Democrats to renew their calls to begin impeachment hearings.
Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi. He sits on the House Committees of Oversight and Intelligence.
Congressman, good morning.
REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): Hey, good morning, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: What did you think when you heard President Trump say he would do it all over again. He would accept a meeting from a foreign country or foreign adversary to claimed to have dirt on his political opponent?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: And he kept bringing up Norway for some reason, I'm not really sure what's going on there, but, you know, it was astonishing.
I think that not only has Christopher Wray his FBI director said that if someone approaches you, especially a hostile foreign power with information about your opponent or some other official, you should go to the FBI. But also folks like, you know, Fox News contributor Andrew McCarthy who came into the intelligence committee hearing yesterday and said the same, you don't take this information, you go to the FBI.
And so, this is something I hope that all elected officials and candidates for office remember, which is, you know, you should not meet with foreign powers and accept anything of value.
CAMEROTA: Have your Republican colleagues in the House expressed concern about this?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: I think that privately they express concern, and, by the way, one thing in his interview he said that congressmen do this all the time. [08:20:02] I have not met a congressman, Democrat or Republican, who
said that they've ever done this. So, I think this is really unusual.
CAMEROTA: Some of your colleagues have said that you all need to pass a law prohibiting this. Aren't there already laws prohibiting this?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: There is a campaign finance law which basically says you cannot accept something of value from a foreign power and special counsel Mueller talked about this law within volume one of the Mueller report in connection with the meeting at Trump Tower in the summer of 2016 when a Russian-connected individual, Russian intelligence services connected individual offered dirt.
There are two issues that need to be clarified within the law, one is that opposition research is something, quote/unquote, of value and then secondly, you know, you have to knowingly receive this information knowing that it's against the law. I think now hopefully everybody knows it's against the law so that particular issue will be put to bed, but certainly, the first issue has to be addressed and clarified.
CAMEROTA: I want to ask you about what you did on the committee yesterday where you voted to hold Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt, as well as Attorney General Bill Barr because of this citizenship question they would like to add to the 2020 census.
So what does that mean that you held them in contempt in terms of next steps?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, so now, the committee can actually go to the bipartisan legal advisory group, it's a committee that's set up through the House to actually go to house counsel and then initiate federal civil litigation proceedings to enforce a subpoena.
Let me just put this in context because this is really important. This is one of six subpoenas that were bipartisan in nature, that were completely unrelated to Russia, issued by the oversight committee for which the White House has produced no documents or testimony on anything. This is everything from security clearance issues to taxpayer-funded private travel for individuals in the Trump administration to, of course, the citizenship question on the census.
So, this is unfortunately part of a pattern of the White House believing that they are not accountable to anybody and I strongly disagree with that notion, as do my colleagues.
CAMEROTA: I think that so many people would say, well, what's wrong with adding a citizenship question to the census? Don't we want to know how many people are here in the country, but then you have tried to talk about the back story to who concocted this plan.
CAMEROTA: And how this plan came to be and that it may not be quite what it appears to be.
CAMEROTA: So, quickly, can you remind people of how this is linked to the architect of gerrymandering.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Yes, there is -- there were recently unearthed documents from the architect of Republican gerrymandering and the individual named Mr. Hoefler (ph) who said by placing the citizenship question on the census you depress the count of minorities, okay? And you advantage through the gerrymandering process Republicans.
And this is absolutely unacceptable, this is not what the census was designed to do and, therefore, the Oversight Committee is trying to expose the wrongdoing and prevent it hopefully in the future.
CAMEROTA: I want to ask you if you've changed your tune on impeachment, given what you've heard from the president yesterday, say that he would do this all over again, among other things. I know that you have said that you weren't quite there yet, you believe you should methodically continue with investigations, has anything changed in your mind?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: As of right now, I'm in the same place in this sense which is I believe that the conduct that was in the Mueller report deeply disturbing, impeachable, indeed it was impeachable, but it's not enough to sustain a conviction, and we don't want to lead to a situation where we begin a proceeding, but he ends up claiming total exoneration, which would be in my opinion disastrous.
Rather, we should now methodically go through the committee process and continue with the investigations. For instance, one specific thing that we're doing on the Oversight Committee and the Intelligence Committee is going after the financial documents where I believe there's evidence that we have to gather. As a former prosecutor I believe that you cannot begin the proceedings until you can sustain a conviction, but the evidence may be out there to do that. Let's go and gather it right now.
CAMEROTA: Well, George Conway, well known constitutional attorney as well as Kellyanne Conway's husband, of course, who is a top adviser to the president, disagrees with you. Here is what he and Neal Katyal just published in an op-ed yesterday.
They say, on Tuesday, Presidential Trump filled a brief in the nation's second-most-important court that takes the position that Congress cannot investigate the president except possibly in impeachment proceedings.
[08:25:02] It's a spectacularly anti-constitutional brief, an invitation to commencing impeachment proceedings that for reasons set out in the Mueller report should have already commenced.
In other words, there's new information, there's new action that triggers impeachment.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: The Trump administration officials can say whatever they want about the law, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's correct.
The current law says that Congress has the full investigatory powers at its disposal, including issuing subpoenas for information as well as being able to enforce it and that's what we're seeing in wins in the court repeatedly. I expect that to continue, but we cannot stop the specials, they have to continue and we have to gather evidence that's out there of wrongdoing and expose it.
CAMEROTA: OK. Congressman Krishnamoorthi, thank you very much for being on NEW DAY.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, a day after on Stewart's impassioned testimony on behalf of 9/11 responders, the House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would permanently reauthorize the 9/11 victim compensation fund, two of those responders talked to us on NEW DAY yesterday about what they have endured post-9/11.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN FEELE, 9/11 FIRST RESPONDER: 95,000 people on the World Trade Center health program being treated across our great nation are being forgotten by our government, by Congress, a dysfunctional body of work, who continues to fail us. We're tired of it. We don't got to put up with it anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So the 9/11 bill now heads for a full floor vote in the House where it is expected to pass. The fate in the Senate is less clear and those two gentlemen said, Lindsey Graham, we're coming for you. Mitch McConnell, we're coming for you.
CAMEROTA: They had a lot to say yesterday. I hope you caught their interview, it was so compelling and we will see what action changes as a result.
Well, they've waited half a century but the St. Louis Blues are finally on top. We discuss their incredible Stanley Cup win with legendary sports broadcaster Bob Costas, next.