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Iran Accuses U.S. Of Lying About Wanting To Resume Talks; Division Erupts Among House Democrats Over Border Bill; Trump Says The Sexual Assault Accuser Is Not His Type. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired June 25, 2019 - 10:00   ET

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


ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: -- girl was struck in the head by a line drive during a game in Houston last month.

[10:00:03]

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has said extending the netting at all park is something the league is going to look into. But it's touched (ph) during the season because it's a structural issue. You know, the Dodgers, Poppy, reacting to another fan being hit. It will be interesting to see if other teams will be proactive and extend the netting voluntarily before someone else gets hurt.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Well, yes, exactly. I sort of thought that would have been regulated for all of them. Andy, thank you for the update.

SCHOLES: All right.

HARLOW: All right. Good morning, everyone. Top of the hour. I'm Poppy Harlow. Jim Sciutto has the day off.

Iran's Foreign Minister says his country will never pursue a nuclear weapon. I'll let you decide if you believe that. He says it's not because of growing pressure from the United States, including those new sanctions on Iran. Well, this morning also, Iran is blasting the Trump administration, calling it, quote, idiotic and claiming that the United States is lying about wanting to negotiate.

President Trump's top hawk on this, National Security Adviser John Bolton, is leaving the door open for talks and for diplomacy, at the same time, he is calling Iran a radical regime. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The President has held the door open to real negotiations, to completely and verifiably eliminate Iran's nuclear weapons program. All that Iran needs to do is walk through that open door.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Let's go straight to Tehran. Our Frederik Pleitgen is there. What else are Iranian officials saying this morning, Fred? FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's been quite an interesting reaction, because, essentially, Poppy, what the Iranians are saying is they believe that these sanctions are not going to have any effect, whatsoever, on the Iranian economy or on the people who were actually sanctioned. They said, look, the supreme leader has no assets outside the country.

And so the other people who were sanctioned also don't have any assets outside the country, especially those Revolutionary Guard commanders who, of course, are amongst the most hard line and loyal to the power structure here in Iran that Iran, at all, has. But the Iranians are saying that this means that Iran is not going to negotiate with the United States in the long-term.

And the President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, really lashed out at the Trump White House, even questioning its mental stability. Here is what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HASSAN ROUHANI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT: They have become frustrated and confused. They do not know what to do. They do strange things that no sane person in the history of world politics have done or at least I don't remember. This is because of their total confusion. They have become mentally disabled. The White House is suffering from mental disability.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PLEITGEN: Another thing, Poppy, that the Iranians are saying, they're saying, look, on the one hand, the U.S. says that it's sanctioning Iran to get Iran back to the negotiating table. But at the same time, the Treasury Department has also announced that it's going to sanction Iran's top diplomat, the Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, the Iranian president saying he believes that shows that the U.S. is lying about its true intentions and wanting Iran to get back to real negotiations, Poppy.

HARLOW: Fred, it's so rare to have reporters with access like you have on the ground in Iran, especially in Tehran itself. Can you just give me a sense of what the average Iranian citizen thinks at this point?

PLEITGEN: Yes. Look, I mean, the average Iranian or the average person here in Tehran that we've been speaking to, a lot of people, of course, are extremely concerned about the situation, extremely concerned about where this could go between Iran and the United States. I would say right now there's a lot of concern here amongst people. There's not a state of panic, however, about the security situation, about this possibly escalating into a shooting match between Iran and the United States.

What a lot of people here are concerned about is their economic situation and the sanctions certainly have had a massive effect on regular folks. A lot of people have lost their jobs and their incomes, and that's one thing that has really weighing down on people, Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes. And the question becomes how much of that does it take to eventually push the hand of the regime, or does it, or do they react to that, right? Fred Pleitgen, thank you so much for the great reporting.

Let's talk about this a bit more with Jim Walsh. He's a Senior Research Associate at MIT and International Security Analyst. Thank you for being here, Jim.

How is this going to play out? I mean, Bolton says the door is open here for more negotiations. Iran has to walk through it. This is the same -- you know, Bolton who wrote an op-ed just three years ago in 2015 saying you need to bomb Iran and you need regime change in Iran. So is Zarif right not to believe him?

JIM WALSH, SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, MIT: Yes, I think that's the right reaction, not to believe him. I mean, I think it's sort of an absurd thing to say. Only days ago, he was part of a team that unanimously recommended to the President that they strike Iran with missiles over the drone incident. And the President initially accepted that and then rescinded that order.

So John Bolton, from that op-ed, all the way through this week, has been consistent in trying to seek regime change.

[10:05:00]

So I don't think the Iranians -- you know, we just sanctioned the supreme leader. I don't think the Iranians are going to think that that's an invitation to negotiation. We had a negotiation. We had a deal. That deal was being abided by all the parties. And then a year ago, the U.S. pulled out. And now, we have drone strikes and tanker attacks and talk of war. That's all a result of pulling out of the agreement.

HARLOW: Because there is not consistency from this administration. And, by the way, there have been comparisons between what the President did, pulling back on that planned strike just a few days ago, to President Obama and the redline with Syria. And I understand those comparisons to some extent. But to put that aside for a moment, when it comes to this administration, you have said that, quote, jumping around the board could cause Iran to make a mistake. What's your greatest fear on that front?

WALSH: Yes, it's miscalculation, no doubt about it. And, yes, presidents had reversed before, but we had a president who, in a single day, Tweeted Iran is in big trouble, no, they're not in trouble because it wasn't intentional, yes, I'm going to strike you, no, I'm not going to strike you, all in 24 hours. And so if you're a defense planner in Tehran, what are you supposed to conclude? Are you supposed to think that the U.S. is really a tough -- you know, Mr. Trump is super tough or is he a softy because he backs down? And we've seen this as a pattern, sort of tough talk, even tough actions followed by softness and sweetness and light. And what I'm concerned about is miscalculation, because a defense planner might conclude in Tehran or these guys don't really mean anything they say. They say stuff all the time. They never do anything. And so what does Iran do? It does something stupid and then that leads to escalation and a conflict. So that's what I'm worried about.

HARLOW: If you're going to hurt Iran, squeeze Iran so much economically that it has to act, right, it's already -- its average citizens, as we just heard from Fred Pleitgen in Tehran, are feeling the pain. But if you're really, really going to lay it on Iran, you need China on board. So what does the President need to get Xi Jinping to agree to at the G20 on this front? Because we're not their biggest trading partner, China is.

WALSH: No. I mean, yes, exactly. But I think, you know, the U.S. -- the problem is when we're mad at everyone and sanctioning everyone and lecturing everyone, then we've got problems with everyone. So with China, we've got North Korea, we've got the trade war, we've got Huawei. I mean, if they even get to talk about Iran, I would be surprised. And China is not going to get on board with this. But you put your finger on it, Poppy.

I mean, I'm sort of reminded of a guy who is in a bar, and he's choking another guy. He's got his hands around his throat and he's choking him. And while he's choking him, he's saying, I don't want a conflict. I don't want a conflict. And that's the President. The President is strangling Iran. Surprise, surprise, Iran is going to hit back. They're not just going to lay on the floor and say kick me again.

HARLOW: What would you do, Jim? Nothing? I mean, how would you be advising the President?

WALSH: I would say, stop the maximum pressure policy. I mean, it was, you know, tankers a couple of weeks ago, drones this week. It's going to be something else. Poppy, we are on a path where some small thing is going to happen and then it's going to escalate and then we're going to have -- if we have a war, it will be worse in its consequences than the war in Iraq. I think it would lead Iran to seek nuclear weapons. And so that's what we're playing with here. So I think we need to stop the maximum pressure policy and we need to get back to diplomacy.

But choking them, if we keep choking them, they're eventually going to hit back.

HARLOW: Okay. Jim Walsh, thank you for your expertise, for being with us this morning. I appreciate it.

WALSH: Thank you, Poppy.

HARLOW: All right. You got it.

Let's talk about the crisis at the border. Time is running out for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to try to get her caucus on board to agree to about a little over $4.5 billion in emergency funding for the border, a lot of it for these detention centers holding these undocumented migrants.

She's calling for a vote today and she's telling her divided caucus this morning there is no reason to oppose if they're horrified at what has been reported is happening in these facilities, reports of filthy, inhumane conditions at migrant centers, children unable to reach their parents. Manu Raju is live on Capitol Hill with more.

So, look, I mean, she's had challenges before. But what I'm hearing is that this is one of her steepest in her challenges within her own caucus.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no question about it. Last night at a closed-door meeting in her caucus, there was a significant debate. One member in her room told me it was an incredibly tense debate with voices that were raised. There were concerns by members from the congressional Hispanic caucus as well as the congressional progressive caucus, demanding changes while the Speaker listened to some of those changes and made more provisions in this bill that would essentially deal with unaccompanied minors, provide more safeguards and more restrictions about how this money would be spent, $4.6 billion, to deal with this humanitarian crisis at the border.

[10:10:58]

Now, in this closed-door meeting, just behind me, the Speaker urged her caucus to get behind this bill, saying it would strengthen their hand if they have a large margin in a negotiation with the Senate, which is pursuing a slightly different approach. The White House is not in favor of the House's plan. Speaker Pelosi believes the House needs to show that they can push forward their plan to get the White House to cave to their commands.

Now, coming out of this meeting, democrats expressed confidence that this bill would be passed today, including the House majority leader, Steny Hoyer, who said this bill should go forward and urged even those critics to get behind it, even if they have some concerns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Are you confident this will pass today?

REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD): I certainly expect it to pass, yes.

HARLOW: What do you say to folks on the left who believe that it's not doing enough to deal with the crisis at the border and could help with the deportation?

HOYER: It's a good bill that we passed. It's not perfect but it's a good bill. They most -- they consider (ph) it preferable to the Senate bill. The Senate bill is not a bad deal either.

RAJU: Would you put the Senate bill on the floor if they House bill gets a veto threat? (END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: So the interesting thing about that right there is that Hoyer says that the Senate bill is not a bad bill either.

Now, that is not the view of this caucus. There are a lot of democrats who are pushing back against the Senate bill. The ultimate question, Poppy and Jim, is what will they do if the House bill essentially draws this veto threat, they can't move forward with this House bill and they have to make a decision on how to move forward before the end of the week when a key office in the Health and Human Services Department runs out of money to deal with the issue of unaccompanied minors at the border. That's a question they're going to have to decide, how to reconcile this with the Senate's version or put the Senate bill on the floor, people on the left oppose, Poppy.

HARLOW: Ten days to go, right? And it shouldn't, you know, be until last moment. One day to go that they figure this out. We'll see what happens. Manu, thanks for being on it, asking those hard questions.

With me now, Dana Bash, our Chief Political Correspondent.

So, Dana, I thought this analysis by a democratic source, quote, this is the hardest Pelosi had to work for a bill in her speakership. I just think the leadership approach is wrong. Was this the wrong approach or is this just a different caucus and evolving caucus that becomes more and more and more progressive?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think, possibly, both of those things but it's something else. This is probably the most clear challenge of the democrats, trying to govern in the Trump era, and trying to navigate the realities of a crisis, which members of Congress have to deal with all the time, no matter who is president. And the disdain that they have for this president, particularly on this issue, because so many of these members are very vocal about the fact that they believe that the President's rhetoric, not to mention the actions that the administration, has helped cause this problem.

But at the end of the day, when I have told -- Manu was standing outside that meeting, I spoke to a couple of sources in that meeting this morning, and again, last night, is that the Speaker is pleading with her membership. You've got to get on board with this, talking about children. In fact, one of her allies, Donna Shalala, from Florida, and Morgan Humphrey (ph), saying that this is the test of a government and how it treats its children.

HARLOW: Wow, the test of a government, right? What is above party? If anything is above party, are the way children are treated, many of whom are separated from their parents, is that it? That's a great point.

So The New York Times rightly points out this morning that if democrats don't pass something, quote, Trump and his team are eager to blame the democrats for the dire conditions. I mean, remember last week, Dana, we even saw The New York Times editorial board call out the democrats for not moving on this and not bringing it to the floor for a vote.

BASH: Absolutely.

HARLOW: Go ahead.

BASH: And they understand that inside the democratic caucus, from Nancy Pelosi on down. Even -- I've talked to some progressives. Even some progressives who don't think that this approach goes far enough, don't think that the money that Congress is poised to spend on this crisis has enough constraints, even with the changes that Manu was talking about that were added just this morning to help placate those progressive.

HARLOW: But, Dana -- so let me just read you from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents the district in Queens, New York. She was in that meeting last night. It's our reporting that she said, quote, we need to stop funding the detention of children under any and all circumstances. I will not fund another a dime to allow ICE its manipulative tactics. That does not sound like someone who can be moved. I guess the question is on an island with a few others or is she getting more people to come on that island?

BASH: So my understanding in talking to a progressive lawmaker this morning is that she's not on an island by herself, even with a few others. There will probably be a good chunk of progressives that are not able to be moved.

[10:15:01]

But there are more people than we are hearing from who, again, are not thrilled that there aren't more constraints here, but are also seeing the reality that despite, for example, some of the progressives saying that this is going to just fund enforcement and fund the ICE tactics, that that's not the way this bill is written and that it really is, for the most part, going to go to deal with the children and the humanitarian crisis there, not all but, mostly.

HARLOW: But almost all.

BASH: But almost all.

And, again, this is such a moment for this relatively new House majority, Poppy, because they do -- this is so stark in who they're talking about, these children, most of whom did not come through any fault of their own and the President's policies that they absolutely despise.

HARLOW: Okay. Dana Bash, thank you for the reporting, as always. I appreciate it.

BASH: Thank you.

HARLOW: Still to come, the latest woman to accuse the President of sexual assault now speaking out after the President denied her story and said, quote, she's not my type. Her response and what legally could happen, next. And just one more day until the democrats take the stage for their first debate with more than 20 candidates, how some contenders are planning to make their mark.

Plus, it is the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster and Ukraine's newest tourist attraction. What is driving the boom in tourism at Chernobyl, of all places?

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[10:20:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

E. JEAN CARROLL, TRUMP ACCUSER: He pushed me and he held with a shoulder and I was wearing a coat dress and tights, and he pulled down the tights. That was when it turned serious. I realized that this was a fight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: All right. That was E. Jean Carroll, latest woman to accuse the President of sexual assault. She is speaking out. If you missed her interview with Anderson Cooper last night or her fascinating and important interview with Alisyn Camerota yesterday morning, you should watch them. She is speaking out.

And the President is denying her allegations that he sexually assaulted here in the 90s. The President tells The Hill in a new interview, quote, I'll say it with great respect. Number one, she's not my type. Number two, it never happened. It never happened. Okay? Listen to E. Jean Carroll's response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: I love that I'm not his type. Don't you love that you're not his type? He also called Miss Universe fat, Miss Piggy, I think, he called her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: With me now is Jennifer Rodgers, our Legal Analyst and former federal prosecutor. Good morning to you.

Gosh, just putting aside, but how can you put aside that the response was she's not my type? Legally here, you know, is the statute of limitations passed? Alisyn Camerota spent a lot of time talking to her about would she bring this to the NYPD, to bring a case to de Blasio, who is running, of course, for president? Mayor de Blasio has said he'd be supportive of a case being opened on this.

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, there are not going to be any cases at all, Poppy. The statute of limitations has run and the civil statute of limitations has also run. So she isn't even able to bring a civil lawsuit for damages against the President.

HARLOW: So no legal recourse here should she change her mind and decide that's the way she wanted to go?

RODGERS: That's right. Statute of limitations for rape in New York State is now there is no statute of limitations, but that didn't happen until 2006.

HARLOW: It's not retroactive, you're saying?

RODGERS: That's right. That's right.

HARLOW: Okay. So I guess, you know, the question becomes, are there any other routes where investigators would be looking for evidence of something like this or have any reason to open sort of probe if there's no civil and no criminal --

RODGERS: I don't think so. The only thing would be, I mean, if you had a criminal matter where the statute had run but you had reason to believe that that person was still out there, still victimizing other people, and so you could open it kind of this part of a bigger case. But in this circumstance, I don't see any way that the NYPD is going to have grounds to open a matter.

HARLOW: How difficult is something like this when you are looking into what she said versus what the President has said? But the scenario she lays out, what she says happened to her is reflective of what a lot of what the 15 other women have said happened to them by the President. Hers though goes even farther.

RODGERS: Yes. I mean, this is one of the reasons that there was a statute of limitations for crimes like this because it's very hard to go back that far in time. You know, you can't find witnesses. You can't find evidence.

The one thing I will say that's compelling here, and this would have come in if you had a criminal case go to court is the testimony of the people she told at the time. If you're accused of making up something like this, you're allowed to put in evidence that shows you didn't by telling people at the time that it happened.

HARLOW: Sure. She says there were two people that she spoke to right after.

RODGERS: That's right. And reporters have spoken to those people and they agree that she told them at the time and they've told their stories too, although anonymously.

[10:25:03]

So that evidence does come in in legal matters and it's very compelling for the jury.

HARLOW: Okay. Jennifer Rodgers, thank you for weighing in. We appreciate it very much.

All right, 2020 and high stakes night for democratic candidates looking to grab some momentum in this race. Up next, one of the candidates set to take the debate stage Wednesday, Congressman Tim Ryan joins us.

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[10:30:00]

HARLOW: All right, welcome back. Last minute preps are under way for the first.

END