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The Trump Campaign Says It Will Follow The Directive From The President On Foreign Governments Offering Dirt On Political Opponents; Trump Has Fresh Attacks On The Former White House Counsel Don McGahn; Rumor's That Mrs. Trump Does Not Live In The White House; Shots Rang Out At The Borderline Bar & Grill In California. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired June 14, 2019 - 07:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, NEW DAY HOST: So this morning we're following the developing news that the Trump campaign says it will follow the directive from the president to listen to outreach from foreign governments offering dirt on political opponents. This is getting fresh (ph) reaction from politicians across the spectrum even this morning, but perhaps some of the loudest voices, the ones from beyond the grave. Our friend, John Avlon, here with the reality check. John -

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's the founding farthers' worst nightmare - President Trump inviting foreign powers to interfere in American elections, and for every self-styled constitutional conservative, they ought to quickly condemn it. Instead, we've heard tumbleweeds with a few honorable exceptions, but this isn't a tough call, folks.

The founding fathers were obsessed with the danger of foreign interference in our elections and domestic debates. It wasn't naive or paranoid. It was rooted in their study of how democratic republics have been subverted throughout history.

George Washington was pretty clear in his farewell address. "Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence, the jealously of a free people ought to be constantly awake since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government."

1787, John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson, quote, "you are apprehensive of foreign interference, intrigue, and influences. So am I." Adams explained that with every election the danger of foreign influence reoccurs. It was this concern that motivated James Madison on the eve of the Constitutional Convention to write notes on on ancient and modern confederacies which detailed how bitter domestic divisions were often exploited by hostile foreign powers.

[07:35:00] It was this theme that hit hard in The Federalist Papers with Alexander Hamilton writing that cabal, intrigue, and corruption were deadly adversaries of republican government, and one of the chief ways they could take hold was through the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.

And then he asked - get this - "how could they better gratify this than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistrate of the nation." Translation - the greatest danger is a president under the sway of a foreign adversary. So when President Trump sat behind the Resolute desk and said that he would take dirt on political opponents from foreign powers and not necessarily tell the FBI, he's hanging a for sale sign on our democracy.

And just in case you thought Trump's comments were a slip of the tongue, now his campaign is saying it's a directive. The Press Secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, telling CBS that offers of foreign assistance will be handled on a, quote, "case-by-case basis". This is an insult to the integrity of our democracy.

Senator Mark Warner took to the Senate floor yesterday trying to pass a bill requiring campaigns to report any offers of foreign assistance to the FBI. It was blocked by Tennessee republican Marsha Blackburn. Other republicans are hiding behind what-aboutism, trying to distract and deflect to the dossier compiled by Christopher Steele, but there's not comparison between that and a hostile foreign government aiming to influence an election.

President Trump apparently didn't learn anything from the Mueller investigation or its most damning conclusion that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome and that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts. Instead, he's saying he'd do it all again, signaling that he will do anything to win reelection, even at the expense of our national sovereignty, and that's your reality check.

BERMAN: John, that was great. Let me tell you something. This is not ambiguous. This is not a matter of interpretation. The founding fathers were clear. How clear about this?

AVLON: Crystal.

BERMAN: Crystal.


BERMAN: All right, John. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. All right, democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren's poll numbers are surging. A new Quinnipiac poll shows that since March, support for the Massachusetts senator has jumped from 4 percent to now 15 percent. And CNN's MJ Lee is live in Boston with a look at what is driving these numbers. MJ -

MJ LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. Well, Elizabeth Warren is pretty clear that there are two things to her campaign - two parts of her campaign. The first is the policy and the substance, and the second is the grassroots organizing.

Let's talk about the first part - policy. There's no question that she has clearly become branded this ideas and policies candidate. She has been releasing one proposal after another over the last six months or so at a pretty rapid clip on everything from breaking up big tech to the wealth tax proposal or universal childcare, and essentially when you listen to her out on the road, it is all about trying to explain to the average person in plain English why she thinks Washington is broken and how she plans to fix it. And she has basically sort of ignored this notion that policy is not interesting, that policy is boring. This has been at the crux of her campaign.

The second part of this - the grassroots organizing - if you talk to her or listen to her talk on the trail or talk to any of her advisors, they would say that this is all about trying to win over one voter at a time and getting that face time. She talks a lot about why she has chosen not to engage in high-dollar fundraisers, that she is only going after sort of the small-dollar donors, that she is not going to spend time meeting with these high-dollar donors because she wants to be out in the country, doing these town halls, and taking questions from the audience members.

As you know, these photo lines that she does after every event, which sometimes can take hours, those have sort of taken a life of their own. You know, I've been covering her campaign since New Years Eve when she first announced, and you can sort of tell there's a difference in the energy when you walk into a Warren campaign event and when you're talking to activists.

These strategies do appear to be paying off for now. Obviously the big question is is this just a moment or can she maintain this momentum. Alisyn -

CAMEROTA: And obviously we will be watching very closely the debate to see how any of that changes, if it does, her calculus during the debates. MJ, thank you.

BERMAN: And again, very shortly we will learn who she will be standing next to at these first debates.

CAMEROTA: Is that a big deal?

BERMAN: It is a big deal. They're going to divide it. The main candidates or the top candidates will be split into two groups and we'll find out who faces whom. Is Bernie in the same debate as Joe Bide?

CAMEROTA: I like the facing off between them -



BERMAN: Yes. CAMEROTA: - but I mean, I sit next to you every day, and it's true. You do rub off on me.

BERMAN: But people know that. We don't yet know who the candidates will be standing behind.

CAMEROTA: That is different.

BERMAN: All right, the breaking news this morning, the president's fresh attacks on the former White House Counsel Don McGahn. Will this make him more likely to testify? We're getting some fresh reaction plus a brand new look you haven't seen before inside the East Wing - the world of the first lady. CNN has unprecedented perspective from the people who know her best.


CAMEROTA: Despite being one of the most visible women on the planet, First Lady Melania Trump is still an enigma, but in a new CNN Special Report, CNN's Kate Bennett gets rare access inside the East Wing and explores who Melania Trump really is with those who know her best. Here's a sneak peak.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Melania Trump.

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: She's the most unusual first lady in modern history.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's very reclusive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Melania Trump is never beholden to the Washington ways of broadcasting everything you're thinking and doing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are persistent rumors the Mrs. Trump does not live in this White House.

BENNETT: She's forging her own path.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president warned her that people are going to attack you about this.

BENNETT: Flying under the radar.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Still not sighting of the elusive first lady.

BENNETT: Setting her own trends.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody has a different taste.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think she can shake it, do you?

BENNETT: Not to mention coping with the intense scrutiny of her marriage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I get the feeling that she cares less about what people think than any of her predecessors.


CAMEROTA: All right, joining us now is the host of that CNN Special Report, White House Reporter Kate Bennett. Kate, great to have you here.

BENNETT: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: I'm so glad you're doing this because she is sphinx like. Let's be honest, I mean, it's very hard for those of us on the outside to get to know her. Obviously you cover her, so you know her better. Is that - has she always been like that or is that now because she's so guarded with the White House role?

BENNETT: I think it's a little bit more pronounced now that's she's in the White House, but she's always been a very private person. She does not have a large and expansive circle of friends. She's doesn't do a ton of interviews even before she was first lady. She's very protective of her son. She keeps her life, sort of her circle very small. Of course, being first lady changes the paradigm of everything and I think people are still wondering what she's really like which is part of the reason why we did this special. There are people who think she's trapped in the White House and miserable. There's that camp (ph), and then there are people who think she's the poised and stoic sort of representation of a traditional first lady, and that's partly true, too. So there's a - there's - somewhere in there lies the real mystery, the truth (ph).

CAMEROTA: It's also hard to determine what her marriage is like. And I mean, obviously people put on a front and for whatever they want you to think, and I'm sure some first ladies have certainly done that, but it's hard to know because she's so stoic and almost expressionless sometimes in public. Do you have any insight into what her marriage is like?

BENNETT: You know, people sometimes forget the first couple - the Trump's have been together for 20 years. They started dating in 1998, so this is a man, a person that she knew quite well before they even got married. I think she knew sort of what she was getting into in terms of the headlines and his past romances and divorces, et cetera. I do think it's interesting, though, we saw Melania Trump when the Stormy Daniels headlines hit last year, we didn't see her do the typical political wife stand by his side why he does (inaudible) or defend him or sit down for an interview. What she did was quite the opposite. You know, she canceled that trip to Davos. She didn't ride with him in the motorcade to State of the Union. She didn't walk across the lawn with him when they left for her trip. So she's expressed this sort of flash of independence that I know it's - you can't read into anyone's marriage and I do believe the first couple is close. She advises him closely. They speak on the phone regularly. They talk throughout the day, but I do believe there have been periods of the marriage that she has struggled with being in the spotlight.

CAMEROTA: Seems like it. About that jacket - I don't care, do you - about family separations, that she was boarding the plane to go to the border, children had been separated from their parents. What was that?

BENNETT: I think that's one of the gaffs of her tenure that people will not forget, and I will probably get letters for calling it a gaff. Mistake - whatever word you want to use, it certainly was not the right thing to do, not the right thing to wear. She has chalked it up to being a message to the media. I'm not sure that that's really what it was.

CAMEROTA: What was it really if not to the media (ph)?

BENNETT: You know, I - it's one of those things, and I like have a Ph.D in her clothes and fashion (ph). It's one of those really sort of strange things no one can really figure out what the message was. I mean, I was on that trip. She didn't wear it on the ground in Texas, just wore it on and off the plane, but certainly terrible messaging, very ill time, and it's going to leave - we talk about on the documentary of Robin Givhan, The Washington Post Fashion Critic, who has some thoughts about it, what it might mean, and what it'll be - you know, it's part of her legacy quite frankly.

CAMEROTA: For sure.


CAMEROTA: The position of White House Press Secretary is now open, help wanted, I suppose, is up in the White House. Did you get any insight from being in the East Wing who the first lady might want in that position?

BENNETT: Well, the first lady has a very vocal and defensive and sort of, you know, fire tweeter in Stephanie Grisham, he communications director, who we speak to and sit down with in the East Wing.


BENNETT: She has been an original on the Trump camp - since the Trump campaign, started off in the West Wing and then was moved over to the East Wing. You know, I keep hearing her name as one of the people mentioned that might fill the role that Sarah Sanders is vacating. I would not be surprised. She is well-liked by both of the Trumps and she clearly has done a very vocal and sometimes combative job being the first lady's mouthpiece and spokesperson and in an effective way, so we'll see.

CAMEROTA: That's - so Stephanie Grisham might be your front runner you would say? BENNETT: I would caution that, yes, I would say possibly.

CAMEROTA: OK, Kate Bennett, thanks so much for that look inside the East Wing. Really fascinating. The CNN Special Report Woman of Mystery airs tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern. John -

BERMAN: All right, Alisyn, Dr. Bennett, thank you very much. Major stories developing this morning. The president lashes out at former White House Counsel Don McGahn. We're waiting to hear if this changes McGahn's calculation whether to testify before Congress. And we will hear from the president any minute to see if he follows the advice of a federal watch dog to fire Kellyanne Conway. Stand by for that.



BERMAN: We have a remarkable story for you this morning you have not heard. After this first shots rang out at the Borderline Bar & Grill in California, two police officers raced to the scene. While the community was still reeling from that mass shooting, they were forced to go beyond the call of duty again. CNN's Stephanie Elam has the story.


MARTIN GONZALEZ, FIRE CAPTAIN, VENTURA COUNTY FIRE DEPT.: Three minutes from the time of dispatch to the minute we got on scene (inaudible)

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ventura County firefighters Martin Gonzalez and Damon Zielinksi were among the first to arrive at the Borderline Br & Grill in Thousand Oaks.

GONZALEZ: We stopped. I could hear the gun shots.

DAMON ZIELINKSKI, VENTURA COUNTY FIRE DEPT.: Almost like two different people were exchanging gun fire.

ELAM: Once the shooting stops, chaos. Some people running away, others driving up, parents looking for their children. One father is already there in uniform.

GONZALEZ: My girls do go there, so I had to text my wife and just, "hey, are the girls home?" She texted me back. She said, "yes, what's going on?" I go, "OK." I didn't have time for anything else.

ELAM: A deputy arrives with his wounded partner in the backseat.

GONZALEZ: We cut off all his clothing and got him in the back of the ambulance.

ELAM: A 29-year law enforcement veteran, Sergeant Ron Helus of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office was shot six times. Not until after daybreak do the firemen learn that Sergeant Helus has died, killed along with 11 other people in the shooting. Some 12 hours after the men leave Borderline, a new danger just a mile away.

ZIELINKSKI: The hill fire was just cresting the 101 Freeway and they were shutting it down.

ELAM: Then the Woolsey Fire begins to rage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All structures on fire.

ELAM: A fire chief summons them to protect a neighborhood.

ZIELINKSKI: Within probably a half hour, they're like, "the fire's at the ridge stop (ph) already."

GONZALEZ: Get ready.

ELAM: The backyard of one home is one fire, so they stop. What was it like when you were in here at the time?

ZIELINSKI: Pretty smoky and the fire had already broken through the window and was impinging. I mean, the drapes were already completely aflame and it was rolling across the ceiling.

BOB PONDT, HOME SAVE BY VENTURA COUNTY FIRE: I walked in here and I saw the puddles and I saw his footprints, and I'm going, "wow, this could have been really bad." It's amazing you guys were here.

ELAM: Despite this win, the Woolsey Fire destroys more than 1,500 structures and kills three people on the heels of the lives already lost at Borderline.

GONZALEZ: Pretty sad.

ELAM: For the first time since the shooting, the men return to Borderline to visit the memorial.

ZIELINKSI: They're all friends, loved ones of people from this community, and yes. It's -

ELAM: For nearly two weeks straight, Gonzalez and Zielinski continue to work all white wrestling with the devastation and loss in their normally peaceful hometown. Stephanie Elam, CNN, Thousand Oaks, California.


CAMEROTA: We appreciate Stephanie bringing us that story. So we are standing by right now for new remarks from President Trump about accepting help about foreign adversaries. Our coverage starts right now.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The Islamic Public of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have no reason to disagree with the secretary of state around (ph) (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Iranian admitting nothing. The foreign minister calling the attacks suspicious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's unacceptable for any party to attack commercial shipping.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If somebody called from a country, Norway, we have information on your opponent, oh, I think I'd want to hear it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've listed to this president. He does not want foreign governments interfering in our election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Russia and others will be back. Shame on all of us if we don't do more to protect our democracy.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), S.C.: I'm hoping my democratic colleagues will take more seriously the fact that Christopher Steele was a foreign agent (inaudible) dirt on Trump.

ANNOUNCER: This is New Day with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: All right, good morning and welcome to your New Day. It's Friday, June 14. It is 8 o'clock in the east, and breaking this morning we're analyzing this new video obtained by CNN overnight. Officials say it shows Iranian forces removing an unexploded mine from a tanker in the Gulf of Oman. Now, defense officials tell us they believe Iranians were trying to get rid of evidence. That's why they're removing it. The incident comes at a time of escalating tensions between the United States and Iran. Adding support, U.S. officials say to the U.S. claims the United Kingdom says it has no doubts over the validity of this video.

CAMEROTA: Also new this morning, 2020 democratic front runner, Joe Biden, is using some presidential imagery to call out President Trump for saying he would again accept dirt on political rivals from foreign adversaries. The president's own campaign now calls that a directive. Meanwhile in a new interview just out this morning, President Trump criticizes his former White House Counsel, Don McGahn.