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Trump's Interest in Accepting Foreign Aid in 2020 Draws Attention to Absence of Communications Director, Press Briefings; Google Anticipating Antitrust Investigation; New CNN Special Examines Melania Trump. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired June 14, 2019 - 10:30   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- really weren't, you know, that might be both (ph).


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Somebody comes up and says, "Hey, I have information on your opponent." Do you call the FBI?


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: If it's coming from Russia, you do.

D. TRUMP: I don't -- I'll tell you what. I've seen a lot of things over in my life. I don't think, in my whole life, I've ever called the FBI.

D. TRUMP: What's happening on the border is -- we're getting it straightened out. It's a tough situation -- you know how easy it would be to solve it? If we met for 15 minutes with the Democrats, you could solve --


TRUMP: -- the asylum problem and the loopholes in 15 minutes.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: They have met before. Haven't quite solved the problems.

If the president's interviews are sparking this much controversy and debate, is the president's communications team mishandling the message? Or perhaps is the president his own communications team?


SCIUTTO: CNN chief media correspondent and anchor of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter, with us now. You know, Brian, listen to the president's multiple answers regarding

foreign help over just the last 24 hours. Multiple and contradictory. I mean, basically, he's throwing multiple explanations out there. "I didn't say it --


SCIUTTO: -- I didn't mean what I said. Actually, let me say something different." I mean, we've seen that often from this president. And is the intent simply to muddy the waters?

STELTER: It makes it very hard to cover what he says on any given day because you don't know how seriously to take his words. What he's saying is very serious. And yet he says it very loosely, very casually. And then oftentimes, contradicts himself in the next sentence or on the next day.

There's been two kinds of interviews this week. There's been these friendly chats on the phone with his friends on Fox and CNBC. And then there have been these hard-hitting interviews that we've seen on ABC, and there's going to be more coming out on ABC in the days to come.

That's a good thing because the president needs to be scrutinized. But I think it shows the -- the whole line (ph) that the president's his own best communications director is not true. He's actually stepped in it repeatedly this week, most glaringly on this issue about dirt from foreign nationals.

He is not his own best communications director. He's not his own best press secretary. And yet he doesn't have a communications director. And in a couple weeks, he won't have a press secretary either.

HARLOW: You, Brian, just tweeted that Sarah Sanders diminished the role of press secretary. Some -- this is like, this is the line between the highest office in the land and the American people. And their job is to tell the American people the truth and play it straight. So what has happened to the role?

STELTER: Well, I'd say that was the idea. That was the old-fashioned idea. That's how it worked for Republican and Democratic presidents in the past, reporters in the room, asking questions on behalf of the public. The press briefings on-camera served the presidents and the public really well for decades.

But Sarah Sanders chose, first, to make them really short and then to get rid of the briefings altogether. It's been 95 days since a briefing. There's no indication, she's going to bring them back before she leaves. I think that's how she's diminished the role.


HARLOW: And she said yesterday, she doesn't regret that. And she thinks this White House has been the most transparent.

STELTER: Right. But tweets are not -- they don't make up for a lack --

HARLOW: Right.

STELTER: -- of that press briefing environment.

HARLOW: Because you can't ask follow-ups.

STELTER: You know, there's a reason why -- and also the government's more than the White House -- it's useful to see reporters asking about other agencies, asking for the president's view --


STELTER: -- on foreign and domestic matters. There's a lot that's been lost. And of course, there are also a lot of lies. And let's just hope whoever takes over as press secretary, if the president does name one, will try to be more honest with the public.

SCIUTTO: Brian, and this is -- goes beyond the White House. I mean, the Pentagon --


SCIUTTO: -- has not had an on-camera press briefing for more than a year.

HARLOW: That's a good point.

SCIUTTO: This is with the nation at war. This has consequences.

STELTER: And I think it starts from the top with President Trump and Sarah Sanders. You know, when they choose not to hold regular briefings, when they choose to ignore Hatch Act violations, as the president said this morning that he would ignore Kellyanne Conway's repeated violations of the Hatch Act.

That sort of tone then trickles down to government agencies --


STELTER: -- and to the country at large. That's ultimately why it actually matters when the press secretary isn't doing her job or when she's misleading the public.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Folks at home, I mean, if you have questions about how the U.S. is conducting wars abroad or how the White House is spending your money, this is a chance for folks to ask questions and challenge. Anyway. We all lose. Brian Stelter, thanks very much.

STELTER: I agree. Thanks, Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: You can catch "RELIABLE SOURCES" with Brian Stelter this Sunday, 11:00 a.m. Eastern time, right here on CNN.

HARLOW: It's appointment television in our household, I'm telling you. All right. So, next, a CNN exclusive. I speak with Google's CEO and

get his first response to the news that the Department of Justice looks to be ready to launch an antitrust probe of the company. What he says government scrutiny of Big Tech, why he says that could backfire.


[10:34:19] SUNDAR PICHAI, CEO, GOOGLE: I worry that if you regulate for the sake of regulating it, that's a lot of unintended consequences.


HARLOW: All right, welcome back. So for the first time, Google's CEO is responding to news of a possible U.S. antitrust probe of the company and congressional hearings on Big Tech.

So I traveled to Pryor, Oklahoma yesterday for an exclusive interview with Sundar Pichai. We got rare access inside of Google's data center, which is under tight security, and talked about why Google is adding hundreds of jobs there and across the Midwest.

He told me the future of that company is actually outside of Silicon Valley. This as Google prepares for increased political and regulatory scrutiny.


HARLOW: There's reporting that the DOJ is laying the foundation for a possible antitrust investigation into Google. What's your reaction to that?

PICHAI: We have always felt, as a large company, we have gone through similar, you know, scrutiny in other countries, including in the U.S. before. You know, I think it's perfectly fine that, you know, as companies get to a big scale, there is scrutiny.

[10:40:00] Scale does offer many benefits. It's important to understand that. As a company, we now invest, sometimes thinking five, 10 years ahead without necessarily worrying about short-term profits.

And if you think about how technology leadership directly contributes to leadership in a global economic scale, big companies are what were investing in technologies like A.I. the most. So there are many benefits. Taking a long-term view, you know, driving long-term development, which big companies can do.

But I think it's important to make sure that we are also able to create a healthy competitive ecosystem in which other companies are able to emerge. And that's (ph) the very important question. You know, and I think scrutiny is right. And, you know, we will participate constructively in these discussions.

HARLOW: Did you expect it to come, Sundar? Or were you surprised by this news?

PICHAI: Not -- maybe the specific timing of it. But, you know, we had always expected -- you know, we have gone through similar situations in Europe, and so it's not a surprise to us.

HARLOW: Congress, the House Judiciary Committee, has also launched this top-to-bottom antitrust investigation into you and your competitors, the whole tech industry, all the big tech.

And I'm interested if that has changed any action you take within Google. Meaning, has it changed what you and the board are talking about, has it made you rethink potential acquisitions for anything that may look anticompetitive?

PICHAI: You know, for Google, the scrutiny has been there for a while now. So we've always taken that into account. There have been times when we've looked at some acquisitions and said, "Look, this is not, you know, something that may be possible." And so we have always taken that into consideration.

HARLOW: Because of this concern?

PICHAI: Yeah, potentially. You know, making sure there's not too much concentration in a sector or so on. So -- but I think for some of the other companies, maybe the scrutiny is newer. But for us, you know, we've had this for a while --

HARLOW: You're used to it?


HARLOW: As you may have heard, some 2020 contenders and lawmakers think you guys and all your competitors are way too big. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic 2020 contender, has even put a billboard in San Francisco, talking about breaking up Big Tech.

And she says that Google and its competitors are, in her words, "They have too much power." She says you hurt small business and stifle innovation. Is she right?

PICHAI: I mean, you have to look at the actual facts. And we -- first of all, as a company, we do many things. Some areas, we are upstarts. We are challenging other established companies. And so, you know, if you look across the breadth of what we do, you know, you look at every area, you look at whether there is other competition and whether users have choices.

And above all, are we doing well because we are executing well as a company? Or -- you know, and doing the right things and doing well or not. And so, you know, the details end up mattering. And, you know.

So I also think it's important that, when we look at it globally, our tech companies are going to contribute to our economic growth in an important way. And we compete against other countries, other companies. And so I think it's important to keep that in mind as well. HARLOW: It sounds like you think she's wrong.

PICHAI: I think there needs to be healthy debate --

HARLOW: Right.

PICHAI: -- you know. Any campaign has, you know, moments around that. But what matters to me is the healthy, thoughtful conversations around it.

HARLOW: Your argument about other countries and America's competitiveness is similar to an argument Mark Zuckerberg has made. Basically, "We're going to do it or China's going to do it." Is that essentially what you're saying? "Don't stifle this growth in America or it will go elsewhere"?

PICHAI: You know, it could, you know. And being in Silicon Valley for example, I always think, I mean, you can't take for granted that you will always be successful. I think you have to earn it.

You know, now there are many countries around the world which aspire to be the next Silicon Valley. And they are supporting their companies, too. So we have to balance both. This doesn't mean you don't scrutinize large companies, but you have to balance it with the fact that you want big, successful companies as well.

HARLOW: Well, to that point, I mean, I know that you view Google as more than an American company. You view it as a global company. So are you essentially saying, "Look, look at us." You've even asked for regulation for rules of the road. "But if we are too squeezed or broken apart, we won't hesitate to build more elsewhere."

PICHAI: You know, it's -- it basically -- I worry that if you regulate for the sake of regulating it, it has a lot of unintended consequences. You know, if you take a technology like artificial intelligence, you know, it will have implications for our national security and, you know, and how -- or for, you know, other important areas of society.

HARLOW: All right. So we'll have much more of that interview on our show, Monday morning. We talked a lot about the controversy surrounding YouTube. You'll hear his answers on that. And also, why he's not open to starting search -- censored search in China again. That's news.

I mean, Jim, it just struck me most when he said, basically, like, "If you squeeze us too much with regulation, there's a lot of other companies that would like more of us -- a lot of other countries that would like more of us."


SCIUTTO: Well, kind (ph) of (ph) -- is a great interview and it's a very kind of glib answer there, to say, you know, "Well, do you really want to regulate us, considering the kind of money we make?" That kind of thing. [10:45:07] And it's not -- it's not on -- I suppose an unusual one, if

you're in the private sector there. But there are big national security issues involved, right? In these questions. So it's -- I'm so glad you sat down with him.

HARLOW: So we'll watch. Yes, he wants more regulation but -- but is it for the sake of regulating or does it actually do something purposeful? We'll see where this goes, right?

SCIUTTO: No question. And a lot of open questions coming up on issues like election security. But I'm --

HARLOW: Yes, yes, yes.

SCIUTTO: -- glad you sat down. Look forward to seeing more.

HARLOW: Thanks.

SCIUTTO: This morning, the president is comparing his wife, Melania Trump, to one of the most iconic first ladies in history. Still ahead, a closer look at the woman in the White House who is still surrounded by an air of mystery.


[10:50:40] SCIUTTO: On his birthday, today, President Trump is praising his wife, Melania Trump. He compared her to another famous first lady this morning, Jackie Kennedy.


D. TRUMP: We have our own Jackie O. today. It's called "Melania, Melania." We'll call it "Melania T," OK? Jackie (ph) O. (ph)

KILMEADE: And she's doing -- and she is doing a great job.


D. TRUMP: And, by the way, people love her. People love her. She get (ph) --



D. TRUMP: She gets no credit from the media, but she gets credit from the people. When I go to speak in front of these big crowds, we have tremendous crowds. And so many people are holding up banners. You know, "We love our first lady" --


HARLOW: We don't know a ton about the first lady. Our latest "CNN SPECIAL REPORT," though, takes a deep look at Melania Trump and a lot of the mystery that surrounds her life. It is called "THE WOMAN OF MYSTERY: MELANIA TRUMP." CNN'S Kate Bennett explores the differences between her and other modern first ladies.

It's a good thing we have you because you're about the only person -- one of the -- one of the few -- who has been able to interview her.

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes. Melania Trump is not a fan of the media, much like her husband. She's only done about three on-camera interviews since becoming first lady. She doesn't do any magazine interviews. We don't see her on the covers of fashion magazines. That's a whole other controversy.

But certainly, she still remains an enigma. And one of the things -- though she has shown, since she's been first lady, is this flash of independence. We talk about that in the documentary. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's clearly this independent streak in her, which I think surprises people just because in so many other ways, she seems like an old-fashioned wife.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think because Melania doesn't have an ambition for higher office, she has nothing to lose. She's sort of free to express those irritations.

BENNETT (voice-over): Then, after months of salacious headlines about Trump's alleged affairs with Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, Melania finally spoke up.

During her solo trip to Africa, she sat down with "ABC News" to address rumors of her husband's cheating.

M. TRUMP: It is not concern and focus of mine. I am a mother and a first lady. And I have much more important things to think about and to do.

BENNETT (voice-over): If there was ever a chance to humanize the president and defend his character, this was it. But Melania punted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's really interesting here, it's the part of this we don't talk about as much. Nobody else gets to undermine and countermand Donald Trump with impunity.


BENNETT: It is a very interesting relationship. Of course, we don't know what happens inside the couple's marriage. But we really try to explore the differences between the East Wing and the West Wind, and thus this first couple. Very unique.

SCIUTTO: Yes. She has made her defining issue the Be Best Campaign, which of course is against bullying, online bullying, et cetera. How does she reconcile that with the president's penchant for attacking people personally in public via his Twitter feed? How does she answer those questions?

BENNETT: Well, you know, her communications director talked to me directly about it in our interview in this special tonight, Jim. And what the first lady has said is, she's going to do it anyway. She is well aware that her husband tweets inappropriate, bullying in a manner that she doesn't always agree with. She's been vocal about it. She can't stop him.

I don't know if it's a spouse's job to stop someone from doing something. And I think in a way, it's interesting and even more compelling that she's taking on this role, knowing full well -- even had the president warn her, "You're going to get in trouble for this. People are going to attack you for this." And she did it anyway.

And certainly, it makes the job of discussing it more difficult. And applies another layer that we have to get through. And in that way, is it strategically smart? You know, that's to be determined. But certainly, she's going ahead with it despite his behavior.

HARLOW: I can't wait to see it. Again, that special CNN documentary on the first lady airs tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern. "WOMAN OF MYSTERY: MELANIA TRUMP." Kate Bennett, congrats. A lot of hard work into that.

And sitting down with Stephanie Grisham, who they're talking about as potentially a replacement for Sarah Sanders. So we'll watch. All right.

[10:55:00] So, ahead, New York lawmakers taking pretty drastic measures to curb the spread of measles, ahead.


SCIUTTO: Parents in New York will no longer be able to use religious objections to exempt their children from vaccinations.

HARLOW: Yes. This is news that comes as Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation that requires schoolchildren to be vaccinated. Of course, New York State is at the center of this year's massive measles outbreak. More than 750 of the 1,000 cases reported this year across the country are in New York.

Medical exemptions, though, for the vaccines, will still be in place. We will keep you posted on this story. We are committed to that.

Thanks for being with us today. Have a great weekend. I'm Poppy Harlow.

[11:00:04] SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. Get your children vaccinated.


SCIUTTO: Saves lives. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN" starts now.