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Trump Interview Revelations; Michigan Gun Owners Take on Second Amendment; Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) is Interviewed on Tanker Attack. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired June 14, 2019 - 06:30   ET


[06:30:00] JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But he will tell a fascinating story to the public at some point.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I have to say, this is further than I've ever heard the president go out loud --


BERMAN: Where he says that Don McGahn was confused or he was trying to make himself look like a good lawyer.

And, Michael Smerconish, that -- this now gives Democrats more of a reason, even more of a reason to try to get Don McGahn in front of them because they have two public, conflicting stories. You know, Don McGahn, Mr. McGahn, why is the president saying that you were wrong in your testimony?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So the president said, and I think correctly so, to George Stephanopoulos, that he was telling anybody who would listen that he thought that Robert Mueller was conflicted. You can see that I -- I again pulled out my copy of the Mueller report to remind myself of what Mueller had to say on this issue.

What the president didn't respond is that those staff members to who he said repeatedly that there are conflicts told him that that was not the case. In fact, on page 81 of Volume Two, you've got Steve Bannon telling the president, that's ridiculous, when the president put forth his reasons that he thought that Mueller was conflicted.

I think Joe just laid it out beautifully, there's a part two for Don McGahn, and that is earning a nice income in Washington. So I think he'll be loath to come in and cross swords with the president.

But there's no mystery as to what McGahn has to say on this because it's all spelled out in the Mueller report.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Jackie, we just need to revisit again what the stunning comments that were revealed yesterday in George Stephanopoulos's interview with the president, who said, yes, he would do it all over again despite the investigation from Robert Mueller about Russia's interference in the election. Yes, if the opportunity popped up, the president would again be open to hearing from Russia, any dirt on a political opponent, or any country, basically, that had any dirt.

And so the FEC chair felt the need to clarify the law out loud. Here's what the chairperson said. Let me make something 100 percent clear to the American public and anyone running for public office, it is illegal for any person to solicit, accept or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election. This is not a novel concept. Electoral intervention from foreign governments has been considered unacceptable since the beginnings of our nation.

And yet, you know, I don't know, you're in Washington, do you hear many Republicans crying foul?

KUCINICH: No. On The Hill there seem to be a, I wouldn't do it, no one should do it, and, in fact, we have the FEC chair, I think the beginning of that quote was -- he said, I can't believe I have to say this.

But, no, of course this isn't a practice that happens, but the president has this philosophy that, you know, everyone does it, and if you don't do it, you're an idiot, kind of -- that's his -- in his view of politics. And, yes, politics can be dirty, but there are -- there are guardrails, whether or not the president chooses to acknowledge them.

What he said yesterday now has sparked a legislative push on The Hill to make it -- to make it so if you do receive information, you have to go to the federal authorities if you're a campaign, within a week of receiving it. And now that he's kind of enlivened the debate and giving it new oxygen, a lot of that legislation is protect U.S. elections has gone to the Senate to die. And we'll see if this does, too. But he certainly gave Democrats a really powerful talking point and put Republicans on the defensive yet again.

BERMAN: Joe, I just want to go back to the video we just saw. Again, that video just in. The president attacked George Stephanopoulos, which in and of itself is a tell. It's a tell when the president resorts to that. You can tell he doesn't want to answer a question. And the question was, why didn't you answer questions about obstruction under oath? Don McGahn has answered questions under oath about obstruction. President Trump hasn't. And when pressed on it, he attacked the journalist there.

LOCKHART: Yes, no, I don't want to minimize what -- what the president said. I -- I -- what I was talking about was what I think Don McGahn's motivation is. It is -- it's -- it's hard to be stunned, but he stuns you every day with this. You could tell that he wasn't expecting that question from George. And rather than be thoughtful about it, he attacked George. And, you know, we -- you have a situation where the president has -- any time he's gotten in front of a credible journalist, he makes these admissions.

I mean remember the Lester Holt interview where he admitted that he fired James Comey because of Russia. You know, he spent two days with George Stephanopoulos. We -- we see all of the news coming out of this. But it is, you know, this is the president and his team that says the press is the enemy of the people. And you see it every day.

CAMEROTA: Yes, and women, Michael Smerconish, are nasty and men are wise guys. There's a pattern. He -- he's -- he has -- there's a pattern cribbed from a different decade.

[06:35:05] SMERCONISH: Well, I think we just saw an example of -- of why the president didn't want to respond to Robert Mueller in verbal testimony, and instead went the route of -- of writing interrogatory answers because he loves to fire from the hip, the loose talk gets him in trouble, and that's what we've seen time and again. And I'm sure that's why his attorneys were insistent that he not have a face to face with Robert Mueller.

BERMAN: Again, he answered questions, but not about obstruction, did not answer questions even in writing about obstruction.

Sarah Sanders, on the way out. A quick lightning round. Legacy, and what happens next?


KUCINICH: You know, she'll go down as someone who was very loyal to the president and not very loyal to the truth.


LOCKHART: I think a failure on the most important parts of the job, one, keeping the public informed, which she didn't do by stopping doing the briefings. Two, as Jackie just said, being truthful. Her legacy is in the Mueller report as a liar and who would only tell the truth under oath. And the only question for me is whether this damage is permanent or transient.

CAMEROTA: Michael.

SMERCONISH: She'll be very hard to replace. Say what you will about her veracity and the way in which she went about the job, but she was a tough defender of the president, and I'm not sure who he'll put in that role, if anyone.

CAMEROTA: That would be really interesting if there -- if there's just a void. If they never fill that vacuum.

BERMAN: Diamond and Silk.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my God.

BERMAN: I -- you're all laughing.


BERMAN: Well --

KUCINICH: Anything is possible. CAMEROTA: It will happen.

LOCKHART: I'm not laughing.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, I think you've just given the president an idea.

BERMAN: Thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: All right, thank you, everyone. Check out "Smerconish" Saturdays at 9:00 a.m. Eastern on CNN.

BERMAN: All right, it is an issue that could help decide the 2020 election in a state that tipped the scales in 2016. The surprising new pleas from Michigan. That's next.


[06:41:00] CAMEROTA: Gun rights, of course, are a contentious topics among Americans. Well, now, two Michigan men on different sides of the aisle are trying to find common ground on guns.

And CNN's Erica Hill introduces them to us.


ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Since opening Freedom Firearms in 2002, Joel Fulton has a front row seat to the intersection of politics and guns. While business soared under President Obama, it's the opposite with President Trump.

JOEL FULTON, PRESIDENT FREEDOM FIREARMS: This is ridiculous how they fear monger to the American people, and how they take positions, and they pit us against each other.

HILL (on camera): Who's they?

FULTON: The political elitists.


HILL (voice over): Fulton, a small "l" libertarian, and his friend, Rande Johnson, a Democrat, are strong supporters of the Second Amendment, though they're not in lock-step.

FULTON: You and I, we have civil discussions. Why is it that that doesn't translate upward?

HILL: For a conversation that feels increasingly polarized, part of the problem may be the starting point.

JOHNSON: We need to just start from a perspective of respecting that I have a difference of opinion, but first of all, we're Americans. And the right to bear arms is for everybody. FULTON: The side that comes out first is usually the anti-gun side. Why? Because the Second Amendment's already in place. So this position is firm and solid. It's not going anywhere. This side is -- is what's trying to change that.

CROWD: Enough is enough. Enough is enough.

FULTON: Getting rid of firearms is not the solution to the violence that we're facing. As a matter of fact, it makes us more ready victims. What we need to make sure is -- we do is harden our targets, just like we would for a military base or anything else.

HILL: Positions that Johnson shares.

JOHNSON: But you would think twice if you thought, when I went in there, maybe the school lady or the parent dropping somebody off, or a teacher, may have a firearm.

HILL: Less than a third of American adults own a firearm, yet it is consistently a focus, especially with a looming election. More than half say gun laws should be stricter. When broken down by party, and gun ownership, the numbers shift dramatically.

So, how could that translate at the polls?

FULTON: When I go and cast my vote, I believe in the fundamental principles of my Constitution. Wherever they stand on the Second Amendment generally tells me where they stand on liberty.

JOHNSON: You don't go down a checklist to see who supports this gun, but the other side makes that a badge of -- it's America, you know, like, I support guns. Well, I -- I support guns, too, but that's not why I'm going to elect somebody.

HILL: As for politicians, neither sees a lot of help for them, despite the continued violence. All the more reason to make their voices heard.

FULTON: You need to exercise your power and you need to get to the polls. Hold people accountable. Pay attention to politics. Whether you like it or don't like it, it affects your life.

HILL: Erica Hill, CNN, Battle Creek, Michigan.


BERMAN: All right, our thanks to Erica.

We have two major stories developing this morning. The president just attacked his White House Council, Don McGahn. Does this make McGahn's testimony more likely before Congress?

And this morning we're analyzing new video the Pentagon says implicates Iran in attacks on two tankers on the Middle East -- in the Middle East. We'll show you much more of this brand new video, next.


[06:48:14] BERMAN: Dramatic new images obtained by CNN overnight, look at them here, which U.S. officials say prove that Iran was responsible for the attack on two oil tankers in a key shipping lane. Now, we're told that this video actually shows the Iranians removing a mine from one of the vessels, but U.S. officials say they were doing that to cover up evidence of the attack.

I'm joined now by Democratic Congressman Tom Malinowski of New Jersey. He is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Congressman, you were watching that video along with us just now. Do you think that is evidence that Iran was behind this attack in the Persian Gulf?

REP. TOM MALINOWSKI (D-NJ): Well, that's the likeliest explanation. And -- and I think the big question is, how did we get here? You know, the administration has been thumping its chest recently and saying they have restored deterrence against Iran. If this is indeed an Iranian attack, it doesn't look like Iran is deterred. It looks like Iran has been promote -- provoked by this maximum pressure policy into doing increasingly dangerous things.

BERMAN: If Iran is attacking tankers in the gulf, is the appropriate response from the U.S. military action? Do you believe we're closer to that?

MALINOWSKI: Well, we -- we may be closer to that. And, look, we have to defend our partners in the gulf. We have to defend shipping in the gulf. But the administration's focus has not been that, it has been trying to sell arms to Saudi Arabia to continue the war in Yemen, which is absolutely nothing to do with defending shipping. And so we need to focus on defending what needs to be defended, but also trying to have a diplomatic climb-down from a war that President Trump himself says that he does not want.

BERMAN: Very quickly, you're on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Have you been briefed yet on the intelligence that the secretary of state says proves that the Iranians were behind this attack?

MALINOWSKI: We were briefed before this latest video.

BERMAN: But not this new round.

MALINOWSKI: But not this new round. And what we were briefed on before really did not amount to a major new threat from Iran. I mean, look, this has been a threat for years and years. We've been managing this. Now attacks on shipping, that would be an escalation, if it's Iran, but it's not exactly an advertisement for the success of the administration's policy.

[06:50:52] BERMAN: All right, also breaking overnight, Kayleigh McEnany, who is an official with the Trump campaign, said that the Trump campaign will follow the directive from the president, to listen to outreach from foreign countries offering dirt on political opponents, and on a case by case basis choose whether to report that to the FBI.

As it stands now, is that a violation of the current law?

MALINOWSKI: So, it apparently, based on the Mueller investigation, it would not necessarily be a violation of law to solicit that kind of help, and there is no legal obligation to report it to the FBI, if a foreign government offers that sort of thing to you.

Now, we -- we never thought we needed a law because we just assumed people would behave in a reasonably responsible way. Clearly this -- this needs to be not put into the law, that you can't do this.

BERMAN: All right, but before I ask you about the legislation you're proposing, just what's your reaction to hearing that from a Trump campaign official?

MALINOWSKI: Completely amoral, cynical and very revealing. You know, I think the president said something really important yesterday. He said, everybody does this. I think he sincerely believes everybody is crooked, everybody is dishonest, and he would be a chump if he wasn't himself. We need to establish that's not true.

BERMAN: And this morning you're here to tell us about a new law that you are proposing that would make this explicitly illegal.

MALINOWSKI: So the law does two things. Number one it says, if you receive an offer of help from a foreign power or from anybody who's offering you hacked information, you've got a duty to report it to the Justice Department. Number two, it would prohibit campaigns from doing what Paul Manafort did when he was Trump's campaign manager, offering the Russian, offering a foreign power private polling information that they could, of course, use to target American voters with this information.

BERMAN: Has any Republican signed on to this legislation yet?

MALINOWSKI: No, but some have told me they would absolutely support it. I think it would be very difficult for Republicans, if this were put to a vote, to say that, well, there's just -- anything goes in America.

BERMAN: I don't know about that because on the Senate side, Mark Warner proposed legislation that was similar, there are some differences, yesterday that would create a duty to report if you were given information from a foreign country on a political adversary. Marsha Blackburn blocked it.

MALINOWSKI: So, look, this is -- this is the grim reaper's problem in the United States Senate. Mitch McConnell has to decide what he's going to do. We are going to protect the country. I am going to protect the country. We were going to propose this legislation. And McConnell can go to the voters in 2020 and say, we have done our duty, or we are blocking every reasonable proposal to protect the United States of America. That is his problem.

BERMAN: What does it say if Mitch McConnell doesn't bring to the floor a fairly simple piece of legislation, which would say, if you are offered dirt or giving dirt on a political opponent from another country that you need to report it?

MALINOWSKI: I don't think -- look, I represent a district that is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. It is not evenly divided when it comes to patriotism and protecting the United States. I think the American people will reject that approach.

BERMAN: We just saw a brand new video just released moments ago of the president with George Stephanopoulos going after Don McGahn, saying that McGahn was confused and maybe trying to be -- trying to, you know, protect his image as a lawyer when he said that President Trump told him to fire Robert Mueller.

Does this require Don McGahn to come testify now before Congress?

MALINOWSKI: Everything has already required Don McGahn to come testify. And, you know what, Don McGahn was under oath when he said those things. Donald Trump has refused to say anything under oath. There's no question in my mind that we will have Don McGahn at some point, one way or another, testifying. You do not refuse a legally binding subpoena in the United States of America. We will enforce that. We are going to hear from him.

BERMAN: Tom Malinowski, congressman from New Jersey, thanks so much for being with us this morning.

MALINOWSKI: Thank you.

BERMAN: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, John, this morning, the Trump campaign says it has a new directive. And that is to listen to outreach from foreign governments with dirt on political opponents. The FEC says that is illegal. That's next.


[06:58:20] CAMEROTA: Sarah Huckabee Sanders departure from the White House proving to be comedy gold. Here are your "Late Night Laughs."


SETH MEYERS, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS": President Trump announced on Twitter this afternoon that Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be stepping down at the end of the month. She'll leave the way she usually does, in the middle of someone's question.

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON": Trump sent a tweet about Prince Charles. But when he wrote the official title, prince of Wales, Trump spelled Wales wrong. He added an "h." Trump was like, Prince Charles is in charge of all of the whales. He's basically a British aqua man and --

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": The prince of Wales, with an "h." Prince of Wales. Fantastic guy. I threaten him with plankton tariffs, OK. I mean, I scare this guy. I got right up in his krill. But he says wonderful things about me, like -- ohhhhh (ph).


CAMEROTA: I wouldn't have known that whale sounds could be so funny, but Stephen Colbert proved wrong.

BERMAN: I wish there would have been a subtitle to translate exactly what that meant.

All right, thank you to our international viewers for watching. For you, CNN "TALK" is next.

For our U.S. viewers, we're prepping new video from the president where he attacks his White House counsel, Don McGahn.

Also, new video overnight that the U.S. says proves Iran is behind the attack on two tankers. NEW DAY continues right now.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: This is only the latest in a series of attacks instigated by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its surrogates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's trying to send a message that if you apply maximum pressure to Iran, they're going to strike back.

[07:00:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to make sure we put the pieces together properly. If we are, in fact, going to blame Iran, we need to have rock solid evidence.