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President Trump Set To Announce Official Launch Of Re-Election Campaign; Legendary Fashion Idol Gloria Vanderbilt Passes Away; Iran Plans To Quadruple Uranium. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired June 17, 2019 - 10:00   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A very good Monday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Poppy Harlow. President Trump is set to officially launch his re-election effort tomorrow, but today that launch is getting a bit overshadowed by a purge of campaign pollsters.

This happened after numbers leaked showing the president running behind democrats, that's multiple, in key battleground states. Of course, that includes Joe Biden in Michigan and Wisconsin. Sources tell CNN the president is frustrated at the attention that those results have garnered.

SCIUTTO: And now he's claiming that they're fake. The president showing his frustration this morning in a tweet, where he says only fake polls show him running behind democrats. Of course, these were polls produced by his own campaign. CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood joins us live here.

So Sarah, the president has taken aim at media organizations, democrats, for polls that don't make him look good. This, of course, is his own campaign. Does he expect folks to believe that these polls were fake, even though they were produced by people working for him?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Poppy and Jim. It's also important to note that the campaign is not denying that these numbers are accurate. They disputed the context around them, saying that, you know, this was a turnout model that was unflattering for President Trump, sort of worst case scenario in some battlegrounds states, and that really we're not seeing the whole picture of what the internal surveys say.

But President Trump is clearly really upset at how many headlines these internal polls have generated. And keep in mind that CNN and others reported on the existence of these polls weeks ago. These are actually 3-month-old results, but more specifics about the survey starting trickling out in leaks throughout the past couple of weeks, culminating on Friday with the result hard numbers from four states of the 17 that were surveyed by the campaign. And so, the president's wrath combined with aides' frustration, that a

snippet of the polling that did leak to the press has caused the campaign to sever ties with three of its pollsters over the weekend. Now, two of them are expected to go on to work with the Trump-aligned SuperPAC America First.

One is not expected to be affiliated with Trump anymore. But really, the president is continuing to deny these numbers, even as external polls sort of confirm the outlines of what those internal surveys suggested, which is that the president runs the furthest behind former Vice President Joe Biden, that in some cases that could be a double digit lead that Biden has.

So this is really not the conversation that the campaign wants to be having. On the eve of the president's re-election launch tomorrow in Orlando, that is supposed to be a massive event the president has been promoting on twitter, but really this controversy over his polls is casting a shadow over that, Poppy and Jim.

HARLOW: OK, Sarah Westwood, thank you very much. Let's take a deeper look at this. Our senior political writer and analyst Harry Enten is here. And I would note that it's not just the internal polling that shows the double digit lead by Biden in key states. It's Fox News' own national poll. I know it's national and it's early, but it gives a 10-point lead to Biden versus Trump.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: Yes, I mean we can take a look at public polling from Michigan, we could take a look at it from Pennsylvania, we can take a look at it from Texas, we could take a look nationally, and what does it show? It shows Joe Biden running ahead in all of those places. And keep in mind, those three states were states that Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.

The idea that you could fire these campaign pollsters and that somehow makes the situation better for him, I don't necessarily buy it. These numbers are real. You seen them on the screen right now, Biden running well ahead of Trump in places that he needs to win in order to win re-election. And simply put, Biden, right now, is well up.

SCIUTTO: So this is a long way away from the actual vote, about a year and a half. Historically, when you see margins like that at this point, are they indicative?

ENTEN: Yes. I mean, look, his is the here and now. Polls only tell us what's going on right now. And I should point out, if we go back to since 2000, what we generally see is that national polls at this point are actually not that predictive. We still have more than - we still have a year and a half to go until the election. For instance, Hillary Clinton was up by nearly 20 points at this point. You take a look at where George W. Bush was in 2000.


He was up double digits, and of course, Al Gore actually won that popular vote. Again, we see it on screen right now. The average difference, 11 points between where the national polls are at this particular point and where the popular vote ended up. So it's still very early.

But the one thing I should point out here is that Donald Trump -- there has been over 50 national polls taken so far this campaign since 2017, Donald Trump has not led Joe Biden in a single one of those polls. It has been very, very consistent.

HARLOW: Now, I'm glad you put all those qualifiers on national polls, especially so early. Joe Biden, though, hasn't done many interviews at all. Any? Has he done any interviews? Not many, right?

ENTEN: He's done - He does a lot with local media.

HARLOW: OK, right? Not national - not a lot of national.

ENTEN: Not a lot of national.

HARLOW: Right? And so, there's still a lot here that Joe Biden is going to say that is going to help him or hurt him.

ENTEN: Absolutely. Right now, what the national polls, and what most of the polls, are indicative of is that Donald Trump is not particularly popular. What Donald Trump wants to do is turn this into a choice election between him and what he hopes will be an unpopular democrat.

And what we know, going back, since the 1950s is that when you take the difference between the favorable ratings of the incumbent president and the opposition party candidate, that's actually more telling than the president's own approval rating.

I think the question is - going forward is, will the democratic nominee be as unpopular as Hillary Clinton was? She was the second least popular nominee of all time. Donald Trump, of course, was the least unpopular. Or will that democratic nominee allow this election to be a referendum on Donald Trump? And if that's the case, we'll end up with a similar thing that we had in the midterms.

SCIUTTO: Repeat that point you just made for folks at home. So what is the number that is historically indicative about a president's chances of re-election?

ENTEN: Normally, what we want to keep an eye on is the president's approval rating and the popularity of his opponent. And the difference between those two --

SCIUTTO: And what does that look like now --

ENTEN: Right now, Joe Biden has a net positive, net favorability rating, and that's the big reason.


ENTEN: It's, right now, around 10 percentage points in our last CNN poll, double digits. And remember, Hillary Clinton's net favorability rating was minus double digits.

SCIUTTO: That's what's different?

ENTEN: That's the big difference.

SCIUTTO: Fair enough. All right, I know those numbers can change. We're a long way out.

ENTEN: We're --

SCIUTTO: But that's an important indicator.

ENTEN: Yes, but it's - right now, the president's in major trouble.

SCIUTTO: Harry Enten, thank you very much.

HARLOW: Thank you.

ENTEN: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: He always breaks it down. That's why (ph) --

ENTEN: I try my best.

SCIUTTO: We have some news just now into CNN, sad news. Gloria Vanderbilt, a legendary fashion idol --

HARLOW: A legend.

SCIUTTO: -- has just passed away, we're just getting in. Have a look at her life. She's died at the age of 95.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: Gloria Vanderbilt, my mom, lived her entire life in the public eye. Born in 1924, her father Reginald Vanderbilt was heir to the Vanderbilt Railroad fortune but gambled away his inheritance and died when my mom was just a baby. Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, her mother, wasn't ready to be a mom or a widow. My mom grew up in France, not knowing anything about the Vanderbilt family or the money that she would inherit when she turned 21. She had no idea the trouble that money would create.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And here's the first movie of little Gloria herself. Frightened by the curious crowd, she flees in her aunt's car. Money isn't everything.

COOPER: When she was 10, her father's sister, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, sued to have my mom taken away from her own mother. It was a custody battle the likes of which the world had never seen. It was called the trial of the century and took place during the height of the depression, making headlines every day for months. The court awarded custody of my mom to her Aunt Gertrude, whom she barely knew. And the judge also fired the one person my mom truly loved and needed, her nanny, whom she called Dodo (ph).

GLORIA VANDERBILT, ARTIST: She was my mother, my father. She was everything. She was my lifeline. She was all I had. COOPER: As a teenager, she tried to avoid the spotlight but reporters and cameramen would follow her everywhere. She was determined to make something of her life, determined to make a name for herself and find the love and family that she so desperately craved. At 17, against her aunt's wishes, she got married. She knew it was a mistake from the get go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wedding bells at Santa Barbara's ancient Spanish mission, he is Pasquale DiCicco, a Hollywood actors agent, and is 32.

COOPER: He was described as a Hollywood agent. Was he an agent?

VANDERBILT: Well, maybe at one point he was. He had been married to Thelma Tood, who was quite a well-known actress and she was -- died under mysterious circumstances. There were sort of rumors around that maybe he had killed her, you know?

COOPER: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. So you got married to a guy who there were rumors that he had killed his former wife?


COOPER: Did that not seem to give you pause?

VANDERBILT: Well, I thought all he needs is me, you know, to --

COOPER: Oh, god.

VANDERBILT: Sweetheart, I was only 17.

COOPER: OK, I know. At 21, she married again and had two sons with the legendary conductor, Leopold Stokowski. And this is what he looked like when you first met him?

VANDERBILT: Well, it's a terrible photograph of him, but he was 63 when I first met him and married him.


COOPER: And was it something like as soon as you saw him you thought --


COOPER: Really?

VANDERBILT: I knew him for a week and married three weeks later.

COOPER: Really?


COOPER: I didn't know that.


COOPER: And he was 63?


COOPER: Wow. Did any of your friends think it was weird?

VANDERBILT: I don't know. I mean --


COOPER: They didn't say anything.

VANDERBILT: Didn't matter to me.

COOPER: The marriage lasted more than a decade. Then she met and married director Sidney Lumet and then my father writer Wyatt Cooper. Over the course of her life, my mom was photographed by all the great photographers and she worked as a painter, a writer, an actress and designer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gloria, you're terrific.

COOPER: If you were around in the early 1980s, it was pretty hard to miss the gene she helped create. But that was her public face. The one she learned to hide behind as a child. Her private self, her real self, that was more fascinating and more lovely than anything she showed the public.

I always thought of her as a visitor from another world, a traveler stranded here who'd come from a distant star that burned out long ago. I always felt it was my job to try to protect her. She was the strongest person I've ever met but she wasn't tough. She never developed a thick skin to protect herself from hurt.

She wanted to feel it all. She wanted to feel life's pleasures, its pains as well. She trusted too freely, too completely and suffered tremendous losses but she always pressed on, always worked hard, always believed the best was yet to come.

You think the next great love is right around the corner?

VANDERBILT: Absolutely. Absolutely.

COOPER: Is there anyone I should know about right now?



COOPER: I think Ben Brantley said he's never met somebody over the age of 16 who loves being in love as much as you.

VANDERBILT: That's true. I think we should always be in love.

COOPER: And she was always in love, in love with men, or with friends or books and art, in love with her children and her grandchildren and then her great grandchildren. Love is what she believed in more than anything.

Earlier this month we had to take her to the hospital. And that's where she learned she had very advance cancer in her stomach and that it had spread. When the doctor told her she had cancer, she was silent for a while and then she said, "Well, it's like that old song, show me the way to get out of this world because that's where everything is."

Later she made a joke and we started giggling. I never knew that we had the exact same giggle. I recorded it and it makes me giggle every time I watch it.


Joseph Conrad wrote that we live as we die alone. He was wrong in my mom's case. Gloria Vanderbilt died as she lived on her own terms.

I know she hoped for a little more time, a few days or weeks at least. There were paintings she wanted to make. More books she wanted to read. More dreams to dream. But she was ready. She was ready to go.

VANDERBILT: Once upon a time --

COOPER: She spent a lot of time alone in her head during her life. But when the end came, she was not alone. She was surrounded by beauty and by family and by friends. The last few weeks, every time I kissed her good-bye I'd say, "I love you, mom." She would look at me and say, "I love you too. You know that."

And she was right. I did know that. I knew it from the moment I was born and I'll know it for the rest of my life. And in the end what greater gift could a mother give to her son. Gloria Vanderbilt was 95 years old when she died. What an extraordinary life, what an extraordinary mom, and what an incredible woman.


SCIUTTO: Goodness. She's of course a mother of our colleague Anderson Cooper and that was Anderson's voice there telling the most personal story possible, the story of losing your mother.

HARLOW: And now you know where Anderson got that laugh. From his mom as we see that video of them together. We have a statement from Anderson about his mother. We'd like to read it to you.

"Gloria Vanderbilt was an extraordinary woman who loved life and lived it on her own terms. She was a painter, a writer, a designer but also a remarkable mother, wife and friend."


SCIUTTO: "She was 95 years old, but ask anyone close to her and they'd tell you she was the youngest person they knew, the coolest and most modern. She died this morning the way she wanted to at home surrounded by family and friends." Those are the words of our colleague Anderson Cooper on the loss of his mother. Remarkable life, Gloria Vanderbilt passed away at 95.

HARLOW: We'll be right back.



HARLOW: All right, news out of Iran as it relates to nuclear production of nuclear materials and low-grade uranium.

SCIUTTO: The - so Iran is saying it will quadruple its production of low-grade uranium, the material used to power nuclear reactors, not bombs. We should be clear about that, but remember the nuclear deal had restricted this and this, of course, a nuclear deal associated not just with the U.S.'s participation, but U.S. allies, China, and Russia. The Trump administration pulled out of that nuclear deal. This is part of Iran's response. Here our own Fred Pleitgen. He's been on the ground from Tehran. So Fredrick, this is Iran pushing back, right, in the midst of a major standoff with the U.S. over the nuclear deal. Are they perceiving here --


SCIUTTO: -- that they might have some European support for this?

PLEITGEN: Well, I think absolutely that's one of the things that they're banking on and, in fact, one of the things that they're calling, Jim, on the Europeans to do. It's quite interesting the announcement that the Iranians made today because they essentially said, as you stated, they were going to quadruple their output of low- grade, enriched uranium, and they say they're going to reach the ceiling level of what they're supposed to have in about 10 days.

Now, 10 days is also exactly the time that their ultimatum runs out for when they want the Europeans to have some sort of investment vehicle together for companies from Europe to be able to invest in Iran, getting around American sanctions. So essentially what they're telling the Europeans is what you need to do is you need to try and circumvent these sanctions from the United States to keep the nuclear agreement alive.

Of course one of the things that we know is that America's European allies and the Iranians are very much in agreement that they want to keep the nuclear agreement. They disagree with the Trump administration that the nuclear agreement needs to go away completely. Obviously the Europeans very much want to keep it alive. And it was very interesting to see, guys, at the press conference that we saw today by the Iranians, they kept saying again and again these measures are going to go into place.

The uranium enrichment is going to increase, but the Europeans can make this all go away if they go against what the United States is doing which is obviously trying to kill the nuclear agreement all together. So certainly the Iranians very much seeing that there is certainly a lot of space between the U.S. and its European allies on this matter, and obviously also really trying to get in between them and trying to keep the nuclear agreement alive that way and obviously pull the Europeans away from the U.S. to a certain extent as well, guys.

HARLOW: Fred Pleitgen, thank you for being live in Tehran for us this morning.

SCIUTTO: Absolutely. Let's speak now to retired Rear Admiral John Kirby. He's the former State Department spokesman as well as CNN Military and Diplomatic Analyst. So John, go big picture for a moment here. So the Trump administration pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, says it wasn't tough enough, didn't include other things, missiles, et cetera.

Now Iran partly in response to the Trump administration pulling out of this deal is, in effect, no longer abiding with the deal that it had been abiding by according to U.S. intelligence. Where does this leave us and should we expect an escalation from the Trump side?

JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Well, I think the question is exactly that. How will the Trump administration react to this? But I think, back to Fred's point, clearly what I see the Iranians doing is, yes, they're technically violating the deal. There's no question about that mathematically speaking, but they're trying to not break it all up in pieces. They're trying not to disintegrate it. They want to - they want they deal to pursue and they just want to be able to reap the economic benefits that they haven't been able to get.

They've been under a lot of pressure, the Rohani government, from the populists and certainly from the hard right about the economic benefits that were supposed to come, the sanctions relief. So they're trying to stay in the deal or to preserve it without utterly breaking it. That's why they're sort of doing this technical violation with the low, enriched uranium.

Yes, it's a message to our European allies, no questions, that they want them to find a way around those sanctions and be able to stay in a deal, but it's also a message to the Trump administration that we're serious about wanting to preserve the deal, but we - we're also serious that you have caused - that you've provoked us to do this. You've made this a reality.

SCIUTTO: OK, so that's on the deal side. Let's talk about the military side here because you have these attacks on tankers, which the U.S. administration says Iran is behind. You now have American lawmakers openly calling for a military strike on Iran in response to that and the Trump administration talking about sending yet more soldiers to the region. You used to serve in the Pentagon as well. Tell our viewers what's happening here and is there a danger of a military conflict as a result?

KIRBY: I don't think we're at the point of an openly military conflict right now, but what's happening is - I mean, this is brinksmanship, Jim, and you know this well. I believe that IRGC did this. Clearly they did this, but it's possible that they did it in an uncoordinated fashion. In other words that it wasn't necessarily ordered by the Rohani government.

They have done rouge operations in the past and I think they've put the civil state government of Iran in a difficult place, but now the deed is done and the rhetoric now is flying back and forth and the American side is considering military options.


I think that the military options that are being conveyed or weighed are a whole full spectrum, Jim. Like low-intensity stuff. Maybe just some additional ISR assets to keep eyes on Iran all the way up to potentially the deployment of additional conventional forces although it's unclear what those forces would be doing.

You also have a lot of naval options available. You could escort tankers, which you could do in a non-provocative way but also a very military, very visible way. So there's a whole range that I think that is being presented and teed up to the National Security Council. It's going to be really interesting what options they choose. Pompeo was out this weekend say, hey, the effort is still economic and diplomatic, but we do have to watch this military - these military options as well.

SCIUTTO: Right, and he said the president doesn't want war. Of course, the danger is the war you don't want, right? Escalation, it can be dangerous.

KIRBY: Absolutely.

SCIUTTO: Rear Admiral John Kirby, thanks very much.


SCIUTTO: New polling is out on impeachment and support is growing, but is Speaker Pelosi going to budge? Doesn't look like it.