Return to Transcripts main page


Hope Hicks Testimony; Trump Approves then Calls of Iran Strike; Williamson NBA Draft and Women's World Cup; Medic Claims to Be Murder at Trial. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired June 21, 2019 - 06:30   ET


[06:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Questions during her closed door testimony before a House panel. Hicks, though, made an interesting admission about lying.

CNN's Lauren Fox is live on Capitol Hill with more.

What did she say, Lauren.


Not a whole lot is what said behind closed doors. But House Judiciary Committee chairmen calling her lawyer's assertion that she had absolute immunity not to answer questions about her time in the White House a sham. But Hope Hicks stuck with her lawyer's advice, refusing to answer those questions about her time in the White House.


FOX (voice over): House Democrats lashing out at the Trump administration, calling former communications director Hope Hicks' limited testimony this week proof of continued White House stonewalling of investigations.

REP. TED DEUTCH (D-FL): This committee must be allowed to continue its work and to have witnesses who can answer the questions.

FOX: The House Judiciary Committee releasing the 273-page transcript of Hicks' nearly eight-hour interview, reveal what she said and mostly what she did not. The legal team, including three White House lawyers, making sure Hicks stayed tight-lipped, blocking her from answering 155 questions according to committee Democrats. Among them, questions about the president's efforts to pressure White House Counsel Don McGahn into firing Robert Mueller. When pressed about Trump asking his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to urge then Attorney General Jeff Sessions to unrecuse himself from the Russia investigation, Hicks called the order odd, before her lawyers jumped in to stop any further answers on the matter. But she did tell the committee she sometimes told white lies, including things like, no, the president is not available right now when he is, and had never been asked to lie about any matters of substance or consequence for the Trump campaign. Hicks also responding to questions about this now infamous speech three years ago. DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia, if you're

listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.

FOX: Telling lawmakers, quote, this was a little bit tongue-in-cheek. This was not a comment that was intended as an instructive or a directive to a foreign government. It was a joke.

President Trump praising his former confidant's performance.

TRUMP: She was terrific. I heard she was terrific.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, thank you.

TRUMP: She's a great girl. She's a great person, and I heard she was terrific yesterday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're leaving now. We're leaving now. Thank you, sir.

FOX: House Democrats remaining furious, calculating their next steps.

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): We're setting this up for litigation. They are going to get destroyed in court. We're going to call Hope Hicks back. So, essentially, all she did is basically jack up her legal fees. She can't escape answering these questions in the future.


FOX: And really this cements just how difficult it is up here on Capitol Hill for Democrats to get answers from the Trump administration. But Jerry Nadler promising that he will go to court, if he has to, to get answers from Hicks and others like Don McGahn.


CAMEROTA: Lauren, thank you very much for all of that.

Now to this.

An attack on TSA agents caught on surveillance video. Look at this. A man bursts through a security checkpoint at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix. Officials say the man was immediately subdued and arrested. He faces charges, including criminal trespass and misdemeanor assault. No word on why he rushed this checkpoint. Five agents, though, were treated for minor injuries.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, the breaking news this morning, the president ordered a military strike against Iran, then called it off with the planes in the air. That is according to "The New York Times." We're working to get some answers from the White House and the Pentagon this morning. We will tell you what we've learned. New developments, next.


[06:37:42] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CAMEROTA: We do have breaking news overnight. Planes were in the air and ships were in position. "The New York Times" reports that President Trump ordered them abruptly called off. These were military strikes against Iran that were planned in retaliation for Iran shooting down an unmanned spy plane.

Joining us now to talk about all of this, we have John Kirby, former Pentagon press secretary and CNN military and diplomatic analyst, and retired Army General James "Spider" Marks, CNN military analyst.

General, why would planes be in the air and shipping be moved into position and then it called off?

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, something came up, obviously. Either the president -- obviously the president made a decision based on whatever factors. Look, war is a means of politics. So there was some political reason not to do that.

You know, communications with the Iranians is very, very difficult. We have to do that through the Omanis. And that communications line, I would hope is open and robust and fulsome and would allow us in the immediate --

CAMEROTA: That's a known channel, you're saying, communications channel?

MARKS: Yes. Yes.

CAMEROTA: That's how we communicate with them?

MARKS: Yes, that's how we communicate with the Iranians. And that was set up in the previous administration. And John Kirby knows that quite well. He was instrumental in making all that come together.

So we would -- we would hope -- throwing props to you -- but we would -- this is an Army guy talking to a Navy guy in very favorable terms, but we would hope that that communications works. And we would hope that the president, for whatever reason, saw something and his -- or his military commanders came to him and said something looks a little bit different.

And when you conduct operations, your intended target always lights up. They have intelligence collection. They have protections systems. There may have been something different that wasn't planned for. And if there was an adjustment to them (ph), there might be an adjustment to the plan.

BERMAN: You know, admiral, the machinery was fired up.


BERMAN: I mean the planes were in the air.

KIRBY: Right.

BERMAN: The ships were in position. I am curious about the logistics of getting something like this in motion. And you were saying there was word all over Washington heading into late last night that something was afoot.


BERMAN: And then saying, no, stop. And, also, what message does that send to Iran and the rest of the world?

KIRBY: So, two points there. First, on the preps. I mean we have robust forces in the region already, aircraft, ships, personnel. So the resources were readily available to the president. Obviously, the -- tensions have been ramping up with Iran for quite some time, so no question in my mind that they were ready to go. Obviously there's existing plans that they probably dusted off and modified for the circumstances for last night. So getting those aircraft in the air, getting those ships armed and ready, not a huge deal. It's really just a matter of targeting and laying those targets into the systems and the sensors.

[06:40:26] It's likewise pretty quickly to turn something like that off because the military has such robust communications capability. I'm not surprised that they were able to react as quickly as they did to the president's order.

So the message on Iran, I found Joe Johns' reporting earlier in the hour very interesting about how the White House didn't push back on "The New York Times" story that the president had made this decision sort of late in the game and that they were OK having that out there. So clearly whatever drove the president to make this decision, and the general kind of outlaid some ideas there, it did have a strategic communications benefit to him, for the president, to have it out there that he was that close, because it sends a strong message to the Iranians that we really do have a robust capability and that they need to take that very seriously going forward.

So now both sides have stepped back from the brink. We've got a little decision space today. It will be really interesting to see how that plays out.

CAMEROTA: But, general, I don't know if we can overlook the possibility that this was just that, that this was actually a negotiating tactic. And the reason that I say that is because with President Trump, you know, there's an anything goes quality. And he does have these ever-changing moods. We've seen it on tariffs. We've never had to see it in a life and death immediate situation like this.

But is it possible he just changed his mind?

MARKS: Absolutely. And, in fact, the use of force is a negotiation technique. If I want to modify somebody's behavior, I could do it through diplomatic means, informational means, military and economic. Economic is being applied. Diplomatic is being applied. There are effects that are in place. And we're evaluating what those look like. Whatever the desired end state is. I can modify behavior even more. It is a negotiating technique if I use the military.

So, absolutely, I mean the president owns this. He's the commander in chief. If he says start, we'll start. If he gets input, if he says stop, we'll turn it off.

BERMAN: Admiral, I've got a couple questions for you. You raise the fact that "The New York Times" pointed out that the administration didn't say don't publish this. You were in a position at the Pentagon and the State Department to talk to the press when they were going to press with articles like this. When would you say, no, don't go forward?

KIRBY: When having something like that breaks actually does contribute to the narrative you're trying to put out or a message you're trying to send. Even sometimes -- and this could be the case this -- sometimes you don't -- you didn't plan it that way, but, geez, having a -- having an article that we -- that this is where our head was, this is what we were willing to do, this is how far we were willing to go, sometimes that can have a strategic effect or you can hope it will on an enemy or an adversary.

So, I mean, yes, I've done that myself. I mean sometimes it was preplanned and cooked. Sometimes it wasn't. Sometimes it was just simply the result of actual decision making that we felt it was beneficial to get that context out there, though the why we were doing what we were doing just in order to try to make change the calculus or affect the behavior, the decision making, of an ally or an adversary.

BERMAN: So it's interesting. So we should assume this morning that because they didn't push back on "The Times" story that they're OK with all of this being out there and being reported.

And my second question is, we are between acting defense secretaries.


BERMAN: You know, we had planes in the air ready to strike Iran late into the evening last night and we don't have a defense secretary. How do you think that is playing into this?

KIRBY: So on a tactical level, I don't think it had a major effect. I mean you've got a -- you've got Chairman Dunford at the Joint Staff. You've got a very competent commander in Tampa, General Mackenzie, who I've known for many years. I'm not worried on a tactical perspective that there was sort of an balls being dropped. Both Esper and Shanahan, both the incoming and outgoing acting, were involved in these discussions.

But on a strategic level, it's a real problem because allies and adversaries know, when you have a Senate-confirmed, fully installed cabinet secretary at the Defense Department, that person has the ear and the influence of Donald Trump and that person also can make meaningful, long-term, enduring changes to the institution. And they can count on what they say with some level of credibility. The way they could with General Mattis. And so that's a real problem going forward. I think, again, for what

we're talking about today, not a huge problem. But whatever the long- term strategy with Iran in the Middle East is, John, they need to get a defense secretary confirmed very, very soon so that that process can be handled appropriately.

CAMEROTA: All right, gentlemen, stand by as we get more information this morning from the White House and the Pentagon. Thank you very much.

We'll have much more on this breaking news in a moment. We are live in Tehran for you.

[06:44:51] Also, there was big courtroom drama. A Navy SEAL who is on trial for killing a member of ISIS then suddenly someone else confesses to the crime. The details, next.


BERMAN: All right, the New Orleans Pelicans, they made it official, selecting Zion Williamson first overall in last night's NBA draft.

Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report."



You know, ever since the Pelicans won the lottery, we knew Zion would be heading to New Orleans. He's considered a generational type talent, like LeBron James. And Zion, well, like LeBron, rocking the white suit on draft night. Now, he knew he was going to be the number one pick for a while now, but that did not stop Zion from getting very emotional and thanking his mom very everything she's done for him.


ZION WILLIAMSON, NUMBER ONE OVERALL PICK: I mean, I don't know what to say. I didn't think I'd be in this position. My mom sacrificed a lot for me. I wouldn't be here without my mom. She did -- she did everything for me. I just want to thank her. She put her dreams aside for mine.

SHARONDA ANDERSON, ZION WILLIAMSON'S MOTHER: To watch his hard work pay off and to watch this, we're so happy for him. We're so happy.


SCHOLES: All right, Team USA, meanwhile, is moving on to the round of 16 at the Women's World Cup. And they wasted no time against Sweden, scoring off a corner kick just three minutes into the game. They would go on to win 2-0 to win their group. The U.S. setting a World Cup record for 18 goals in the group stage.

[06:50:11] And now is when things get serious. Up next, a matchup with Spain on Monday at noon Eastern. Loser goes home. And, guys, some fascinating news out of Major League Baseball. The league giving the Tampa Bay Rays permission to explore the idea of playing half their games in Florida and the other half in Montreal, Canada. We'll see if that works out.

BERMAN: Andre Dawson (ph) on line two.

All right, Andy Scholes, thank you very much for that.

SCHOLES: All right.

BERMAN: We do have breaking news.

CNN just got confirmation that the president did call off an attack on Iran. The planes were in the air and we have new details about the target. We'll tell you in just a moment.

CAMEROTA: But very quickly, first we want to give you a sneak preview of the CNN film, "Apollo 11." It debuts Sunday night at 9:00 Eastern.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We choose to go to the moon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is mission control.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We choose to go to the moon and do the other things, not because they are easy --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But because they are hard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ignition sequence starts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), this is Houston, loud and clear.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With Neil (ph) we're (INAUDIBLE) for the trip.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The enormity of this event is something that only history will be able to judge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good launch and Godspeed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Apollo 11 has been given the mission of carrying men to the moon, landing them there and bringing them safely back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beautiful. Just beautiful. Magnificent ride.

ANNOUNCER: "Apollo 11," Sunday night at 9:00, on CNN.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [06:55:39] BERMAN: All right, the breaking news. CNN just confirmed that there was a strike on Iran, called off by President Trump overnight. They had ordered a military strike, but the president called it back.

We're also getting new details on what the targets might have been. Our reporters at the Pentagon getting in position. We'll bring that to you very shortly.

Also this morning, a stunning twist at the trial of a decorated Navy SEAL charged with killing an ISIS prisoner in Iraq. Someone else took the stand and claimed to be the killer.

CNN's Dan Simon live with this, Dan, incredible turn of events.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, this was a total courtroom stunner. Here you have this decorated Navy SEAL, Eddie Gallagher, who is on trial for the murder for killing an ISIS prisoner. And what happens is you have this Navy SEAL, this Navy SEAL medic named Corey Scott, take the stand and said, no, he's the guy who actually killed the prisoner. That it wasn't Gallagher.

Now, he was testifying under immunity. And Scott told the military jury that he watched Gallagher stab the prisoner underneath the collarbone, but it was not a fatal blow. He said that he walked away -- when Gallagher walked away, he put his thumb over the prisoner's breathing tube, and this is a quote, I suffocated him. I held my thumb over his trach tube until he asphyxiated. I knew he was going to die anyway and wanted to save him from waking up to whatever would have happened to him. He seemed to characterize this as a form of compassion, saying he had seen other captures tortured by Iraqi forces.

This is what the defense lawyer for Gallagher had to say after that testimony. Take a look.


TIM PARLATORE, EDDIE GALLAGHER'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The best deference for Chief Gallagher is the truth. Today, the truth started to come out. What we've been saying for all this time, this is a shoddy investigation. No investigator, no prosecutor ever asked the question of, what is the cause of death?


SIMON: Well, the outrage -- this admission seemed to outrage prosecutors who accused Scott of lying and to protect Gallagher from going to jail. Scott's response, he's got a wife and family. I don't think he should spend the rest of his life in prison.

Now, despite that unexpected testimony, the Navy said they will not be dropping any more charges. More prosecution witnesses are expected today.

Alisyn, we'll send it back to you. CAMEROTA: Dan, what a crazy turn of events. That just -- I don't

understand it. I don't understand what's happening there.

BERMAN: Well, there needs to be more explanation. One of the things prosecutors are wondering is if someone was just trying to cover for someone else.

CAMEROTA: Well, absolutely, that's a big possibility.


CAMEROTA: But why would he take the fall for something so serious?

BERMAN: Because he doesn't want the other man to go down. I get it.

CAMEROTA: Right, but why would -- what is his motivation for doing --


CAMEROTA: All right, we'll get more on that. But thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, CNN "TALK" is next. For our U.S. viewers, we have much more on our breaking news on the ran strikes abruptly being called off by President Trump. NEW DAY continues right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CAMEROTA: All right, good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. We do begin with breaking news.

New reporting just in from CNN's Barbara Starr. She confirms that a military operation to strike Iran was set to begin last night. But then President Trump reversed course. The planned targets of this strike were Iranian radars and missile batteries. This was in retaliation for the downing of an American spy plane.

"The New York Times" reports that U.S. military planes were in the air and ships were in position when the president abruptly called it off.

BERMAN: All right, this morning, as we go to air, it's not clear if this military operation will still go forward. The U.S. and Iran have been trading accusations about the downing of an unmanned surveillance aircraft over the Strait of Hormuz. Tehran says it violated Iranian air space, a claim the United States denies.

So the so this morning, what made the president suddenly change course? What does happen now?

We have this covered from every angle.

We want to go straight to the Pentagon, though. CNN's Ryan Browne is there.

And, Ryan, CNN now does have confirmation that this attack was beginning to go and then was called off. RYAN BROWNE, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, that's right, John.

A U.S. official telling Barbara Starr that this attack had been -- this had been ordered to go forward, but then was pulled back at the last second.

[06:59:52] Now, again, that's relatively easy to do given that the U.S. has a substantial military presence already in the region. A number of strike aircraft, a number of ships that are capable of launching missile attacks against these proposed targets, which, we're being told, were Iranian radar site.