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New Sexual Assault Allegation Made Against President Trump; Bernie Sanders Unveils Student Debt Forgiveness Plan; New Iran Sanctions. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired June 24, 2019 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:00:15]

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Just days after the Trump administration almost dropped bombs on Iran, the president is instead imposing what he calls hard-hitting sanctions against the Islamic Republic. The president says it's in response to Iran's increased provocations in that part of the world, including the downing of a costly U.S. military drone.

These new sanctions against Iran target the country's supreme leader and other top-ranking military officials.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The assets of Ayatollah Khamenei and his office will not be spared from the sanctions. These measures represent a strong and proportionate response to Iran's increasingly provocative actions.

I think a lot of restraint has been shown by us, a lot of restraint. And that doesn't mean we're going to show it in the future. But I felt that we want to give this a chance, give it a good chance, because I think Iran potentially has a phenomenal future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House.

And, Kaitlan, tell me more about the sanctions. Who will they affect?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Essentially, these sanctions are going to target Iran's supreme leader.

And the White House says that they will bar him from accessing those international banking systems. They will also go after eight of the military commanders. And in that briefing that we rarely see anymore, the treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said the president had also instructed him to designate the nation's top diplomat later this week, though that wasn't included in the press release that the Treasury Department released shortly after. And, typically, something like that wouldn't be disclosed before

they're actually ready to move forward with it. But what you're seeing overall here, Brooke, is, this is the president's preferred method to striking Iran.

He thinks these sanctions are a better response in response to them downing that U.S. drone, going after those tanker ships, according to the administration. And so the question now is going to be, essentially, does it work?

And what you're going to witness over the next few days and few weeks is a waiting game on behalf of the administration to see if these sanctions actually do make Iran come to the table, if they do surrender to the economic pressure that the U.S. is trying to place on them, because you have got to keep in mind here, the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said 80 percent of Iran is already under sanction.

BALDWIN: I know that some of President Trump's national security advisers actually supported a more aggressive response, and I know you have new reporting about the president's inner circle.

COLLINS: Yes.

Virtually all of them wanted the president, thought a military response was the right response to them downing that U.S. military drone. But it was the president who changed his mind at the end of last week. And, Brooke, you saw something really interesting happen this weekend.

And that was the president went to Camp David essentially on his own. He didn't travel with the senior policy aides or Cabinet members or even the vice president or any family members, like he typically does. But, instead, when he got on Marine One and left the White House on Saturday, he only had a few junior staffers in tow, besides the Dan Scavino, the White House social media director, who, if you talk to the White House, say he's more of a friend to the president than a policy adviser.

We do note that too Mick Mulvaney did go up to Camp David later on in the day, but that was several hours after the president had arrived. And, of course, the president said that trip was going to be about meetings and calls on Iran.

Now, of course, when the president goes somewhere, he has a state-of- the-art communications system, so he can essentially talk to whoever he wants to. But we should note, his national security adviser, John Bolton, was in Jerusalem. The secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, was getting ready for a trip where he went to Brussels on Sunday.

And, of course, you saw that change in leadership at the Pentagon at midnight on Sunday. And when we asked the White House if they had any kind of a readout of what it was that the president did this weekend, they declined to give us one, and said that none of the communications staffers were at Camp David with the president either.

BALDWIN: Kaitlan, thank you. A critical week lies ahead for the men and while vying to become the

next Democratic presidential nominee who will face off in their first debate two days from now.

Among the candidates taking the stage on Miami Wednesday, you have Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Julian Castro and Cory Booker, while,flash forward, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris joining front-runner Joe Biden on Thursday night.

And those debates come as candidates face a Sunday deadline for second-quarter fund raising. And before Bernie Sanders' foot steps out on that stage, the Vermont senator is unveiling a proposal to wipe out a trillion dollars, a trillion dollars in student debt for millions of Americans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ten years ago, because of their greed and illegal behavior, Wall Street banks were on the verge of collapse. And the United States Congress, with taxpayer assistance, came to their aid.

Well, now we have got millions and millions of families in this country who are struggling with outrageous levels of student debt. And maybe, instead of just worrying about Wall Street, we start worrying about those families and that generation and give them a break.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[15:05:10]

BALDWIN: Ryan Nobles is in Washington.

And so who exactly could benefit from this plan, and how would he pay for it?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Two good questions, Brooke.

A lot of people would benefit from it, 45 million Americans. Basically, if you're watching us right now and you have any student loan debt of any kind, it doesn't matter how much money you make or how much student loan debt you have, under this plan by Bernie Sanders, it would be eliminated the second that this plan goes into effect. And it would cost a lot, $1.6 trillion.

The way that Sanders plans to pay for it is through a tax on Wall Street trades, a series of three different taxes that he believes could raise as much as $2.4 million (sic) over the next 10 years.

This is also, of course, Brooke, part of his broad plan to allow easier access to college. And part of that $2.4 trillion will go to setting the stage for free public college at four-year schools and community colleges.

So this is a broad plan by Sanders, and he believes that this is about economic justice. Now, it really depends on who you're talking to as to whether or not you think this is a good idea. If all of your student debt is already gone, well, then you're wondering where was this plan when you needed it?

I actually asked Sanders about that specifically today. What would you say to those folks who have already paid off their student loan debt? And his argument was this. Basically, the cost of college has gone up so much in the past 10 to 20 years that there's a different burden placed on the group of Americans that are facing college debt now, where our parents or people before them that came through the system had a lot more access to government funds to subsidize that cost.

And that's why he believes now this is necessary. You see here too, Brooke, the comparison to Elizabeth Warren's plan. She's already unveiled a college debt forgiveness plan. The difference with hers is, it's capped at $50,000. You can't go beyond that. And there's also an income component attached to it, meaning that high-level earners wouldn't be eligible.

Sanders was asked about that as well today. Why give a benefit to people that perhaps don't need it? And he said basically he leaves believes in universality. He believes that, if there's a plan in this, everybody should be able to benefit from it, and that's why he's calling for it in this form and fashion today.

BALDWIN: We will listen to all of this coming up on questions Wednesday, Thursday.

Ryan, thank you very much.

And certainly not to be outdone by his 2020 rival, Beto O'Rourke is also rolling out a plan to help veterans in need of health care once they return home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In our administration, we will make sure that we fulfill our end of the obligation as a country. We will spare no expense. We will bear any burden to make sure that we meet every single returning veteran with the care and the investment that they deserve.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Leyla Santiago is following the O'Rourke campaign for me.

All right, explain this war tax.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, this actually isn't something that's very new to O'Rourke. He has proposed it before when he was in Congress as legislation.

But, you know, this is part of a bigger plan for O'Rourke, yes. In that video you saw there, he was at a roundtable talking to veterans and talking to reporters. He later really stressed that he is for diplomacy, not war. And he wants to end these forever wars.

So, let's go ahead and look at the bullet points here you see on screen. the He talks about that war tax. More on that in a second. He talks about a lot of changes for Veteran Affairs health care. He talks about really focusing on women veterans, as well as the LGBTQ veterans and making sure there's equal treatment.

So it's an eight-page policy. But you're right. That war tax is really a big part of it. And the war tax is essentially -- it's money that will be put in a trust that -- a trust fund that is established if the U.S. were to go to war again. If you go to war, there's going to be a trust fund, he says, for veterans to take care of them when they come back.

It would tax non-military homes. And that money would be used to go to programs that would benefit veterans, again, not necessarily a new idea, but something that he wants to make sure is a part of this.

So what would that mean for that non-military home? Let's look at the numbers. You make less than $30,000, you're paying $25. You make more than $200,000, you're looking at $1,000. So there's quite a range, based on your income.

But let's talk strategy here, because one of the reasons that you will hear his campaign really point out this policy right before the debate is because this is a way for him to highlight his experience, given that he was on the Veteran Affairs Committee as a congressman.

And oftentimes in town halls, I have heard him talk about how one of his greatest accomplishments was legislation he introduced to increase access to mental health care for veterans.

[15:10:01]

And it passed. President Trump passed it. So he claims that's one of his greatest achievements. This is a way for him to highlight that, and, as you mentioned, right before that very first debate.

BALDWIN: The debate.

SANTIAGO: Yes. You got it.

BALDWIN: Yes. Leyla Santiago, thank you on Beto O'Rourke.

Coming up next: disturbing allegations against President Trump, an author claiming that he sexually assaulted her in a dressing room back in the '90s. Hear how the White House is responding to her claims.

And nearly 100 leaked documents reveal the chaotic process inside the Trump transition team and how major red flags were overlooked for some of the country's highest positions.

Also ahead, 11 people were killed after a skydiving flight in Hawaii ended in this fiery crash. We are now learning that same plane was involved in an emergency landing at least one time before.

Stay with me. You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:15:50]

BALDWIN: President Trump is facing a new accusation of sexual assault, this time from an advice columnist and writer named E. Jean Carroll.

Carroll says this happened back in the 1990s in a department store dressing room. Carroll first detailed the incident in a book excerpt which was published in "New York Magazine."

And, in part, she writes -- quote -- "The moment the dressing room door is closed, he lunges at me, pushes me against the wall, hitting my head quite badly, and puts his mouth against my lips. I am so shocked, I shove him back and start laughing again. He seizes both my arms and pushes me up against the wall a second time. And as I become aware of how large he is, he holds me against the wall with his shoulder, and jams his hand under my coat and pulls down my tights."

CNN spoke with Carroll about her accusations.

So, here is CNN's Sara Murray.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Author and columnist E. Jean Carroll standing firmly behind her claim that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her in a department store dressing room two decades ago.

E. JEAN CARROLL, TRUMP ACCUSER: The minute he went like this -- I preceded him into the dressing room. The minute he closed that door, I was banged up against the wall.

QUESTION: He slammed you against the wall.

CARROLL: Yes, I hit my head really hard. Boom.

MURRAY: Carroll accounts the alleged attack in her new book, "What Do We Need Men For?: A Modest Proposal."

As excerpts became public, President Trump vehemently denied the allegations from the White House Saturday.

TRUMP: I have no idea who she is. What she did is, it's terrible, what's going on. So it's a total false accusation. And I don't know anything about her.

MURRAY: Carroll says she had a chance encounter with Donald Trump at Bergdorf Goodman in the 1990s. but she says a lighthearted exchange turned violent when they ended up in a dressing room.

CARROLL: He pulled down my tights. And it was a fight. It was -- I want women to know that I did not stand there. I did not freeze. No, I fought. And it was over very quickly. It was against my will, 100 percent. And I ran away.

MURRAY: Carroll goes into more graphic detail in her book, writing: "He opens the overcoat, unzips his pants and, forcing his fingers around my private area, then thrusts his penis halfway or completely, I'm not certain, inside me."

But Carroll still struggles to call it rape.

CARROLL: I don't want to be seen as a victim, because I quickly over -- went past it. It was a very, very brief episode in my life. Very brief. I am not faced with sexual violence every single day, like many women around the world. And so, yes, I'm very careful with that word.

MURRAY: Despite Trump saying they never met, photos show them chatting at a party in the 1980s.

TRUMP: There is some picture where we're shaking hands, it looks like, at some kind of event. I had my coat on, but I have no idea who she is, none whatsoever.

MURRAY: Trump dismissed Carroll's account as a publicity stunt.

CARROLL: I never mention Donald Trump in the description of the book. On Amazon, you don't see it.

MURRAY: During the 2016 presidential campaign, a 2005 "Access Hollywood" tape surfaced showing Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women.

TRUMP: Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything, grab them by the pussy.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: You can do anything.

MURRAY: At least 15 women have accused Trump of sexual assault, harassment or lewd behavior, all from before he was president. Trump denied all of their claims.

At the time, Carroll says she didn't feel compelled to share her story.

CARROLL: There were, you know, an army of women. They were coming forward. So I sat back and let them -- also, I thought it was my fault. And when -- if I was going to come forward, I would have to say, I was stupid, I was a nitwit, I allowed this. So my frame of mind was not the best.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY: Now, Carroll says she shared her account of what happened soon after it allegedly occurred. That was roughly 20 years ago.

And CNN spoke to the two friends she said she told about the allegations. Both of them confirmed that Carroll shared this version of events with them at the time. They said that she appeared to be in shock over what had occurred -- Brooke.

[15:20:03]

BALDWIN: Sara Murray, thank you.

And while the president's supporters have dismissed Carroll's claims, George Conway, husband to Trump aide Kellyanne Conway and a frequent critic of the president, is calling them hypocritical.

In "The Washington Post," Conway recalls that, at the height of the 2016 campaign, Trump invited that group of women to a rally who claimed they have been sexually assaulted by Bill Clinton.

One of them was a woman by the name of Juanita Broaddrick.

And so this is what Conway writes -- quote -- "Trump called Broaddrick courageous, and if Broaddrick was courageous, then certainly Carroll is as well, for Carroll's story is as at least compelling as Broaddrick's, if not more so."

He goes on: "Republicans or conservatives who promoted Broaddrick's charges would be hypocritical if they fail to champion Carroll and condemn Trump."

CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger is with me.

And, Gloria, Carroll is one of at least 15 women who have made accusations against the president. You know, this is, of course, taking place in the wake of MeToo.

To George Conway's point, why do you think supporters of Juanita Broaddrick's claims don't see dismissing Carroll's claims as hypocritical?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think they are -- they don't believe her. I think if they went out there and supported Donald Trump during the last election -- and, don't forget, Donald Trump denied these claims, many of them in the same way, saying, I don't remember this woman, I never met this woman, et cetera, et cetera.

That they're now -- in a way, they're sort of boxed in. And they have to continue to say, this woman is just trying to sell her book, as Donald Trump said. Juanita Broaddrick wasn't trying to sell a book. She -- you know, she made a lot more sense to me.

And so I think, you know, once you're in it, you're in it. And in a way, you know, for the American public, there is a sense, sad to say, that this is already baked in, and it's a little bit of deja vu. And so supporters of Donald Trump can say, oh, you know, there they go again going after Trump.

BALDWIN: Do you think that's part of the reason why -- why hasn't this story, do you think, gotten more attention? BORGER: Well, yes, I think that's part of it. I really do, Brooke.

There is a sense here that people have later this story, many times before. Now, there is a reason they have heard this story many times before. It has been told by different women many times before.

And if you dismissed it in 2016 and you said, well, that was Donald Trump, you know, 20, 30 years ago, and he's a changed man, then you're going to believe him now.

Of course, don't forget, though, we have been through the Stormy Daniels issue. I mean, that was consensual, obviously. But he ended up paying her off. And so all of this -- people who support Donald Trump have clearly taken all of this into account and say, I don't care about it. I care about what he is doing for my taxes. I agree with him on immigration. And I agree with him on other issues.

And so, I mean, I have never -- honestly, this wouldn't happen with any other political candidate that I know of.

BALDWIN: But with the president himself -- you mentioned this a second ago, right?

BORGER: Yes.

BALDWIN: Because he commented, he advanced the story, you know, accusing her of making it up while she is selling a book.

BORGER: Right.

Well, the president likes to tell you, he fights back. And so he is incapable, I think, of not commenting on things. And when somebody accuses him of something this venal, he is going to say, that never happened.

The question is, at some point, do you stop believing Donald Trump? If you're a supporter of his, do you stop believing Donald Trump when it comes to these questions of sexual assault? There are so many. I mean, when do you reach a critical mass, if it's not going to be 16 or 17 women?

And I understand, yes, she is selling a book. And yes, she could have come out sooner. We understand all of that. She told Alisyn she decided not to come out when the other women came out because she was nervous about it, and they were doing a fine job of it.

And so, you know, there is that, that they will use against her. But at a certain point, this will become a subject in the campaign. Look at the trouble Joe Biden got in for putting his hands on a woman's shoulder publicly, because she felt uncomfortable.

And Democrats really reacted to that, and said, you know, that's not right. And look at this. Donald Trump, there's kind of a shrug.

BALDWIN: Yes. Yes, at 16 now. BORGER: Yes, and counting.

BALDWIN: Stay with me.

I want to ask you about this next, this disturbing picture of the vetting process that was happening inside the Trump transition team in the days immediately following the election. Leaked documents now reveal that red flags were ignored for several people nominated to very powerful positions.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:29:34]

BALDWIN: The constant turnover in the Trump administration and the high number of unfilled or acting Cabinet positions more than two years into the president's term have put the White House's vetting process under the microscope.

Now nearly 100 internal documents from the Trump transition team's vetting process were leaked to "Axios on HBO." The information detailed a host of red flags about administration officials who eventually landed some of the most powerful jobs in the U.S. government.

Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "AXIOS ON HBO")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we have obtained the internal vetting documents for around.