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President Trump Launches Reelection Campaign at Rally in Florida; U.N. Special Investigator Releases Details of Findings in Murder of Jamal Khashoggi; Presidential Candidate Julian Castro is Interviewed About Trump's Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired June 19, 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] LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: -- key allegations in the Mueller Report. And that's where things could get dicey behind the scenes, because the White House sent a letter last night arguing that Hope Hicks was immune from having to answer questions about some of the time that she spent in the White House.
And just a few excerpts from that letter I want to read from Pat Cipollone, he argued because of this Constitutional immunity, and in order to protect the prerogatives of the office of the president, the president has directed Ms. Hicks not to answer questions before the committee relating to her time of service as a senior advisor to the president. And a couple of questions that Democratic aides will want to ask have to do with the firing of James Comey, also anything that the president did to interfere with the Mueller report. We expect this will all be behind closed doors, but there will be a transcript released in upcoming days. John and Alisyn?
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Lauren Fox for us on Capitol Hill. Lauren, stand by, let us know when you see Hope Hicks, the arrival there for this closed door testimony. That will be fascinating.
I want to bring in CNN contributor Bianna Golodyrga, CNN political analyst David Gregory, and Andrew Gillum, for Democratic nominee for governor in Florida and a CNN political commentator. David, we are waiting for the arrival of Hope Hicks on Capitol Hill, and Lauren said something very interesting. Hope Hicks of course spans the entire recent political career of Donald Trump from before he was president until after he was president. There's absolutely no executive privilege for anything that happened before Donald Trump was president. She will have to answer questions about that. If she tries to get out of answering questions after he was elected president or inaugurated, that's where the problem will be.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, and that's where there's a potential assertion of executive privilege even if it's legally dubious. She can assert it here and then away we go into the legal fight that's already well under way. But to your point, this is the gatekeeper for a president who knows a lot about it, who has been around a lot, who has facilitated conversations, has spoken for him on many occasions as well. And so there's a lot of material that they could cover with her. My question will be how much will it be focused on what Congress is
interested in at this point, which is establishing whether the president obstructed justice, picking up on where the Mueller Report left off where there's additional threads for them to investigate. Are they going to get anywhere with her on that? I just think as a close political ally of the president's and with executive privilege hanging out there, they're going to be stymied.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Bianna, we know that Democrats are trying to animate this process. They know that voters don't like to read their information. They need a different delivery system somehow, so what Democrats are planning to do is after they talk to Hope Hicks behind closed doors, and though she may not be able to say much because of executive privilege, they're going to come out and talk about it at the microphones.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, and I don't know how much they're going to gain from this. I agree with David. I think there's going to be a lot of invoking of executive privilege, referring back to her lawyers. And I think that this may be a situation where Democrats don't want to look too aggressive in pushing her to say something that she clearly doesn't feel comfortable saying. I think their bigger target will be Don McGahn. He's the one that spent the most time with Robert Mueller. I think he's the one who has the most potentially explosive things to say about the president. Democrats need to tread lightly here I think with Hope Hicks.
BERMAN: Mayor, I'm hearing a lot of so what's the point here from David and Bianna. Is that fair?
ANDREW GILLUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'll tell you, I think it's important, one, to get her on the record for what she knew prior to what she knew going into the administration. That will not be covered by executive privilege. She may obviously choose to yield to her lawyers as a way of getting out of answering those questions.
But the bigger thing here is I think Democrats, consistent with Nancy Pelosi's strategy here, is sort of go slow, make the case, lay the foundation and building blocks in case the Democrats should choose in the Congress to move down the road of an impeachment inquiry or impeachment in and of itself. So this is an important, I think, steppingstone in the direction of laying the foundation, the building blocks for a larger case that could be made should we move down the road of impeachment.
GOLODRYGA: And Democrats don't want this to look like what the president is describing it as, as a witch hunt, trying to go after any person who is associated with the president and attack them. So Democrats need to follow through with what they've said they've been doing from the get-go, and that is following the facts. And if they want to present a situation where ultimately they can say every single person we've interviewed has been stonewalling, that's one thing. But they need to be very, I think, smart about how they handle --
CAMEROTA: That's interesting. It can't be a fishing expedition, because she knows everything. She knows a lot. She's been with him forever.
GOLODRYGA: And she's defended him, though. She's defended him throughout all of this. And we've seen even with her testimony with Bob Mueller there were times where she said she didn't understand the president and understand certain circumstances, but she defended him through and through.
[08:05:00] GILLUM: There are consequences, obviously, for lying to Congress. She does have to be honest. I'm hoping that she will obviously have some responsibility to the Constitution and to the process, will level with the American people. But obviously we'll have to see how this process plays out. But again, I think this is consistent with the planning of the Democratic Party and the Democratic leadership, which is to take this slow and don't get ahead of the process.
BERMAN: She testified to Congress before, a long time ago. That is where she did admit to telling what she called white lies on behalf of the president. That was interesting then. So who knows what could come of this now?
CAMEROTA: So David, let's talk about what happened last night. The president officially, I guess, announced his reelection campaign, though it seems he's been running for office since day one. I think he's even been talking about how long he wants to stay in office, maybe even longer than the next four years he has alluded to. So it was interesting, I think, to hear him attempt to talk about the leftwing angry mob, as his backdrop was an angry, I guess, rightwing mob of people chanting, chanting nonsense. There were times that they were chanting nonsense about the press and calling people names, and that was just an interesting optics.
GREGORY: The thing I'm fascinated by, by this political figure in Donald Trump as the president, is how he even as president has positioned himself as the aggrieved outsider. He may have said let's keep America great, and I guess the implication is that he's made it great again and we should keep the status quo. But if you listen to him talk about the list of grievances and the ways that his followers are victims or that he is a victim in some way, it is constantly positioning himself as the outsider.
And so on the one hand he's going to want to take the benefit and the credit for an economy that's humming for so many Americans. And on the other hand he is going to blame the news media, the political establishment, and of course Democrats, so keeping people down, for getting in the way of important progress. That's what we see here. It's confounding to watch it, especially in light of his poll numbers where he's remained consistently under 50 percent, which is so difficult for a president to win reelection. But he's obviously broken all the models. But that's what I took away was this reliance on grievance. That's still where he's going.
GOLODRYGA: And I think one of the reasons that you continue to hear sort of a broken record of the same things you heard from 2016 and playing the victim card here is because he can't say look at what I've done. Look at the wall I've built, look at the tariff wars that I've won, look at peace with North Korea, look at peace with Iran. He can't list that. Right now he could be saying, as David said, look at the great economy. I can continue doing that for you for the next four years. For some reason he's choosing not to.
GILLUM: Well, the president is very, very clearly terrified of what 2020 could bring for him. It's why he kicked off his campaign in Florida, a state that I know well. In fact, I felt at time in running for governor that I was running against Donald Trump. It's a state that we've seen move closer toward the Democratic side, 33,000 vote difference out of 8.5 million votes cast in my race. Florida is the one state that could deny this president a second term.
CAMEROTA: Last night he didn't look terrified in that huge arena that was packed. There had been a festival outside, 20,000 plus people.
GILLUM: Yes, but Kamala Harris had 20,000 plus people at her rally in California, and as did other candidates in launching on the Democratic side for president. What this president is terrified about, and it was almost in my experience forecast by the fact it was almost as if he was in a time warp. He spent more time talking about Hillary Clinton, litigating the campaign of 2016, than he did focusing on what he's going to do for the American people and his base moving into 2020. And that's largely because of, as you pointed out, Bianna, that he doesn't have a good record right now to stand on. Even interviewing people in the audience, they said we still don't have the wall. There was still elements of this agenda that he hasn't delivered on.
BERMAN: I will say, he was talking on the economy, two minutes in he was talking about the economy, and had he stuck on that, that might have been something that was a unifying theme. But by minute five and six he was talking about other things that were not nearly as unifying.
GOLODRYGA: It bores him.
BERMAN: Mayor, we have you here. You said you know a little bit of something about Florida. You also know a little something about polls, too. I just want to put up the Quinnipiac numbers, the most recent Quinnipiac numbers from Florida which shows a head-to-head contest between the leading Democratic candidates and the president. Joe Biden leading the president by nine points. You said something interesting. You said you think Florida is trending Democratic. Well, Barack Obama won Florida twice. President Trump won Florida, Rick Scott won in Florida, and also, as you well know, so did the governor now, Ron DeSantis there, Quinnipiac, by the way, showed you leading Ron DeSantis, leading in the polls there. So what's going on there?
[08:10:00] GILLUM: First of all, forgiving Quinnipiac and any other poll, I do not believe that Florida will be anything other than a one percent state. This race is going to come -- as it has, Barack Obama won the state twice by one point. Donald Trump won the state by a point. The last three democratic gubernatorial nominees including myself, a point or less, three points -- 0.4 percent difference in my case. So what I believe is that this race in my state is going to be won or lost on the ground.
And the fact is that keeping Hispanic kids in cages is not going to play well for a huge Hispanic population across the state of Florida. I believe we are getting organized. I'm a part of that process. We've got a pledge to register a million and reengage a million voters in Florida. And again, in a race, in my case it came down to 33,000, in Nelson's case down to 10,000, this is race, again, that we won and lost in the margins. He knows it. That's why he launched his campaign from Florida yesterday. That's why he's launching his Hispanic outreach from Florida in a couple of weeks. And quite frankly, that's why Democrats are doubling down on the state to basically build the kind of infrastructure that's designed to deliver a win. Regardless of who the Democratic nominee is, we want to deliver our state for the Democrats.
CAMEROTA: We're out of time, but very quickly, do you believe the polls right now that show all the Democrats beating President Trump?
GILLUM: I definitely think the president has an uphill battle. I would pray that no Democrat gets illusioned by these polls. We've got to do the difficult work on the ground. If we do that work, we win.
BERMAN: I get a sense you don't subscribe to the Quinnipiac --
GILLUM: I don't subscribe to any of them at this point.
BERMAN: David, Bianna, Mayor, thank you very much.
CAMEROTA: Thank you all.
Breaking news now. A U.N. special investigator has just released the findings of the first independent international inquiry into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. It draws a direct link to the Saudi crown prince. And CNN's Clarissa Ward has looked through the report. She's in London with all the breaking details. What does it reveal, Clarissa?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, there are some very grim and lurid details in this report, and the investigator is not pulling any punches. She says that having gone through all the evidence, having listened to the now infamous tapes of the killing of Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate that she is under no illusions this was a deliberate, premeditated execution. She also says credible evidence that highest levels of Saudi authorities including the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman were involved in this murder.
The key thing that she really drill down on is the element of premeditation because our viewers may remember the Saudis tried to float this theory that this was essentially an attempted rendition that had gone wrong. Not so says the U.N. investigator, and the reason she says that is because she has listened to the tape, and 13 minutes before Jamal Khashoggi even enters the consulate, the forensic doctor who is part of the 15-man Saudi team is heard talking about dissecting a body. He expresses hope that a dissection would be easy, according to this report, and says that he has never cut something on the ground. Then another person enters and says, asked whether the sacrificial animal has arrived, that apparently a reference to the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
This is a very damning report, lurid details. And as I said, she's not pulling any punches. She says targeted sanctions should be called on Saudi Arabia, more investigations including the U.S. FBI she's suggesting, a criminal investigation should be opened too. John?
BERMAN: Disgusting new details, Clarissa. And we are waiting to see how the White House responds to this blistering new report. We're trying to get reaction this morning. Thank you, Clarissa.
We do have more breaking news. Arrest warrants have now been issued against four suspects after a team of international investigators announced the first criminal charges in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MA-17 over eastern Ukraine. Investigators say they have enough evidence to say that Russia provided the missile launcher to shoot down the jet. Three of the suspects are Russian, the fourth is Ukrainian, all had military or intelligence roles. Prosecutors say they will not seek extradition. And 298 people died on that flight. That was five years ago.
CAMEROTA: President Trump threatening nasty deportations of undocumented immigrants. So we get live reaction from a Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro who has made this a centerpiece of his campaign as well. That's next.
[08:18:31] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump kicked off his reelection campaign with a familiar hot button issue, immigration. The number of migrants at the southern border have spiked on his watch.
But listen to who claims is to blame.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice and rage. They want to destroy you, and they want to destroy our country.
On no issue are Democrats are more extreme and more depraved than when it comes to border security. The Democrat agenda of open borders is morally reprehensible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Joining us now to talk about it is Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro, who was the HUD secretary under President Obama and also the former mayor of San Antonio, Texas.
Secretary Castro, thank you very much for being here. I want you to respond to what the president said at his rally last
night. Are you depraved and morally reprehensible because of your policy on immigration?
JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I hope the folks that watch this watched the rally last night and saw that it becomes so clear every time he does this is that what this president wants on immigration is not a solution but a circus. And if you think about it this president has been a complete failure on this issue.
They told us about a year ago that if we would just be cruel enough as Americans to separate little children from their mothers, that less families would come from Central America.
[08:20:05] And instead the opposite is true, 144,000 people came last month. So let me tell you what I would do if I had been inaugurated in January 2017. We knew -- we've known for years more people are coming from Central America. What he should have done two years ago is that he should have immediately begun working with Honduras, with El Salvador, with Guatemala so that people could find safety and opportunity there instead of having to come here.
Instead of doing that, instead of doing what would be most effective to actually solve the problem, what he's done is that he's used this like a political pinata, just trying to drum up enthusiasm from his base. And in the meantime, in all of our names as Americans, what's morally reprehensible is that children have been separated from their mothers, people have been put in cages --
CASTRO: -- and six children have died in U.S. custody.
That had not happened in more than a decade. But six children in the last year have died in U.S. custody. That's how bad this president has been on immigration.
CAMEROTA: But, secretary, how would working with as you say Honduras and Guatemala and El Salvador, how can a U.S. president even a President Castro solve the problems on the ground in Honduras and Guatemala and El Salvador?
CASTRO: Well, you think about why would a mother bring a six-month old infant on a dangerous journey of more than a 1,000 miles to get out of her circumstances unless she's desperate. It's so dangerous over there. So what can we do about that?
Well, there's no question that over the years we've worked and partnered with countries to make sure there's more security and opportunity. And we can do that with those countries. But instead of doing that, this week, this administration actually did the opposite. Folks may have missed they announced they're cutting -- they're cutting off foreign aid to these Northern Triangle countries, to Honduras, to Guatemala, to El Salvador.
In other words, if you think the administration is serious about actually getting to the root cause of this challenge, you're wrong because they're doing the opposite thing.
CAMEROTA: Well --
CASTRO: If I were president, I would actually go in the other direction.
We've seen -- I'll give you an example, Mexico is a good example. Twenty years ago, a lot of the folks, most of the folks who are coming to this country weren't coming from Central America. They were coming from Mexico.
CASTRO: But the difference between now and 20 years ago is even though Mexico of course still has its challenges when it comes to security and crime, people generally can find more opportunity there today than they could 20 years ago, and so more of them are staying there than used to. That's what we need to see for Central America in the years to come, and that's what I would be focused on if I'm elected president.
CAMEROTA: I want to ask you something else. The president also announced this week that next week he and the ICE director will begin the process of deporting he said millions of undocumented people and families here who already have deportation orders, so they're not supposed to be here, they're already adjudicated. He says they're in the millions. They're going to start deporting them next week.
Is that going to happen?
CASTRO: You know, I wouldn't put it past him, but at the same time how many times have we heard this president talk about something and it never happens. The latest example of that were these tariffs he was going to slap on Mexico even though the analysis showed that would cost 400,000 American jobs.
CAMEROTA: But don't you think that threat has got Mexico's attention? Because Mexico has agreed to send more national guardsmen to their border and to have stricter border enforcement and to allow some of the migrants to stay in Mexico. Do you think that that threat did Mexico's attention?
CASTRO: Well, they had agreed to do that several months ago.
CAMEROTA: They say they're speeding up the process now.
CASTRO: That's what I'm saying, this is all smoke and mirrors. Yes, they have agreed to do that already several months ago.
CAMEROTA: But now, they're really going to do it, they say.
CASTRO: Well, I mean, come on, this president does the same thing. And about his threat, you know, on mass deportations next week, it's the same playbook. Even if he doesn't do it, what he's trying to do is terrorize these families and instill fear. This is the same thing that's happening with this citizenship question on the U.S. Census. Even if that never happens, it's going to chill, it's going to stop
people from participating in the U.S. Census. And because of that, you know, whether you're Republican or Democrat or rich or poor, wherever you're at in this country, you're going to be harmed because your community is not going to get resources for roads and bridges and other public education, other public investments that are important to you and to your family. So, you know, this erraticism, this, you know, racism --
CASTRO: -- this using of immigration as a way to rile up his base, it has real world consequences for the viewers out there and their families no matter what their politics are. And we need a president that actually wants a solution and not just a circus.
CAMEROTA: Very quickly, I know that you want to change the categorization of the immigrants that show up at the border from criminal, from putting them in a criminal category to civil.
[08:25:16] But how does that help? How does that stop the 144,000 people from showing up at the border who need help? How does that help solve the humanitarian crisis there?
CASTRO: The first thing I'd say is this is how we used to do it from about the late 1920s until the early 2000s. This was actually treated as a civil violation not a criminal violation. So, this is not something radical. This is not something the U.S. didn't use to do.
I give you a good example of how it would help. The reason that children are being separated from their mothers, from their families is because we turned it into a criminal matter and we're incarcerating these parents. So keeping them incarcerated and then separating their children from them, I don't believe we should do that.
The other way this would be helpful is actually allow us to get through the backlog of cases of asylum claims and other cases better if we invest in immigration judiciary and treat this as a civil matter so people are not waiting in this country in limbo for years and years.
CASTRO: So there's a better way to do this. If you're somebody out there concerned about this issue, and I can understand why someone would be concerned if you had 144,000 people coming last month to the southern border. But there's a better, more effective and more humane way to do it, and this president is not interested in that. He's just interested in using it for politics.
Let's get onto actually addressing the issue with a solution.
CAMEROTA: Very quickly. We're out of time. I have a few seconds left. But Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez likened the situation at the border to concentration camps. Should she apologize for those comments? CASTRO: Well, look, I think the point she was trying to make is this
is serious, and this is the mistreatment of human beings.
CAMEROTA: Yes, but you know concentration camps is loaded.
CASTRO: Yes, of course, I understand, you know, that there's a significance to that term, but I agree with the sentiment behind what she said, which is that we can't take this as normal. This is cruelty for these children.
We've had folks who study these things say these children, a lot of these people are going to be affected for their whole lifetime. And so, we can't write it off. And I think we should focus on what she was trying to say which is that we need to end this and end it now.
CAMEROTA: OK, Secretary Julian Castro, presidential candidate, thank you very much for being on NEW DAY.
CASTRO: Thank you.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we're getting fresh word this morning as to who might be nominated as the next defense secretary. This comes as new questions arise about the vetting process to put people in his cabinet.