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House Democrats Hold Tense Meeting Over Border Bill Changes; Trump Claims His Latest Accuser "Not His Type"; Interview With Iranian Ambassador Majid Takht-Ravanchi About New U.S. Sanctions; Interview With Representative Karen Bass About the Border Crisis. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired June 25, 2019 - 07:00   ET

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


[07:00:01] JOHN FEAL, 911 RESPONDER: Thank you.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Our NEW DAY baseball --

FEAL: Well, you know, hopefully tomorrow is a new day and we have good news because, I mean, that's what we're all banking on and, you know, this is going to be the first of several meetings moving forward. And I expect, you know, in a perfect world, we'd do this on July 4th and it'd be so patriotic that Congress can actually get something done, but why not September 11th? Why not do it on the anniversary and show America that we're not forgotten?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, look, guys, let us know how the meeting later today goes. We'll have you back on anytime to push for this, to continue this demand.

CAMEROTA: We wish you guys the best of luck. Great to have you here.

BERMAN: John Feal, Michael O'Connell, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thanks for being here.

FEAL: Thank you.

MICHAEL O'CONNELL, FDNY 2001-2009: Thank you.

BERMAN: Thank you to our international viewers for watching. For you "CNN TALK" is next. For our U.S. viewers, the battle heats up about the border and on Capitol Hill.

NEW DAY continues right now.

CAMEROTA: All right. Good morning, everyone, welcome to your NEW DAY. We begin with a familiar line from President Trump, firing back at his latest accuser, denying that he sexually assaulted author E. Jean Carroll in a store dressing room more than 20 years ago.

In a new interview, the president tells "The Hill," quote, "I'll say it with great respect, number one, she's not my type. Number two, it never happened, it never happened, OK?"

Here's what Carroll told CNN after hearing that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

E. JEAN CARROLL, TRUMP ACCUSER: 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)

BERMAN: All right, while that's going on, big developments having to do with the border and the humanitarian crisis there. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leaders are trying to quash a revolt over a bill that deals with this funding. Overnight, Democrats were huddled in this tense meeting. Speaker Pelosi is trying to push through a bill amid deep divisions over whether it does enough to address the humanitarian crisis.

CNN's Lauren Fox live on Capitol Hill with the latest details of this meeting that I understand, Lauren, was pretty tense.

LAUREN FOX, CNN POLITICS CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Progressive members of the Democratic caucus, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus arguing with their leadership that that appropriations bill for the border supplemental did not go far enough to restrict how the administration would use money from Congress to deal with that border crisis.

So Democrats still up in arms today. It's unclear whether or not leadership will be able to move forward with the vote, if they'll have the votes to move forward, and that's just a piece of this puzzle. We have to move over to the Senate as well. The Senate Appropriations Committee last week had a big bipartisan vote, 30-1, to pass their bill, their own border supplemental bill that included $4.6 billion in funding and $2.88 billion in funding for the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

All of that passed out a committee, but it's still unclear when it will come to the floor for an actual vote, and time is running out because the Office of Refugee Resettlement runs out of money at the end of the week. There's no way to fund it any other way, except for Congress to give them more money. So a lot of questions remain about whether or not Democrats can get their caucus together. Whether the Senate can pass their bill on the floor, and then how do you get two different bills put together, reconciled in time to deal with this budget shortfall at the end of the month.

A lot of moving pieces here, John and Alisyn.

BERMAN: All right, Lauren. We're watching it very, very closely. Thank you.

Joining us now Abby Phillip, she's a CNN White House correspondent, as well as political analyst David Gregory, and Toluse Olorunnipa.

Abby, I want to start with you because as they are fighting on Capitol Hill trying to get the bill passed, there was a major development overnight. This border facility where people had gone and inspected it and seen horrific conditions.

Let me just read you some of what they have described there down there. This is P 106. "Some of the children we spoke with were sleeping on concrete floors and eating the same unpalatable and unhealthy food for close to a month. Instant oatmeal, instant stew, previously frozen burrito. They had no blankets." You know, this is the place that they were talking about having the diaper smell.

We now understand that some of those children are being moved immediately. So some of the public outrage has led to action, and you do get the sense that when a picture like that is painted for the world to see, this White House and this administration does get nervous and things start to happen.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It seems unsustainable to have conditions like that, and you're right, the more that the light gets shined on what's going on in those facilities, the harder it's going to be for the administration to simply have a strategy of saying, well, Obama did it first. I think that's untenable, and there is, in fact, a crisis on the border, and the question is, is the administration doing enough to make sure that those facilities are humane and sanitary and not, you know, basically traumatizing to children who are -- some of which are very young in age?

And I think that's at the crux of what's going on on Capitol Hill here, is that as these stories keep coming out, it's getting harder and harder for Nancy Pelosi to wrangle her caucus because there are some Democrats who are saying, unless we deal with the source of that problem, and stop this type of treatment from happening all together, how can you ask me to fund this process?

[07:05:14] And I think the administration is going to have to do their part here. It's -- you know, it's going to be more and more difficult as these stories keep coming out. The public pressure is going to be on both sides, not just on the administration to fix these conditions but it's going to make it harder for a lot of Democrats who are saying, look, it's unethical for me to vote for more money to fund more facilities that are treating children in exactly the same way that we're reading about on -- in the news reports and on television.

CAMEROTA: And so, Toluse, we know that Nancy Pelosi had this meeting last night. It was described as almost three hours long. It was described as very tense. There was a high decibel levels about all of this, and I'm not sure that just moving the kids from one facility to another is going to solve this problem. I mean, these kids -- people who have gone down as watchdogs to see what's happened, they describe almost every children -- every child as ill, like with flu like symptoms. They are not bathing regularly.

And furthermore, the Office of Refugees and Resettlements is about to run out of money at the end of this month, so that's why there's all of this urgency, at least in the Democratic caucus, to try to figure out what they're going to do about this, Toluse.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, there is a lot of urgency. Speaker Pelosi has a tough job on her hand in trying to wrangle these votes and trying to placate some of the members of her caucus who are not happy about what we're seeing on the border and aren't willing to put more money towards a system that they believe is broken. And we have not seen a lot of presidential leadership on this front. We haven't seen the president say that it's unacceptable that children are, you know, sleeping on concrete floors without toothbrushes and we've actually seen members of his administration, lawyers, say that that is acceptable and try to argue that in front of a judge.

So that sort of callus approach is something that is making Democrats who have to vote for giving more money to the administration a sort of pause and wonder whether or not that's the right approach. And Nancy Pelosi wants to get this done and get this money through before the Office of Refugee Resettlement runs out of money. But she's having a tough time wrangling votes and making sure that the Senate version of this bill and the House version of this bill is strong enough on the protections that Democrats want. And it's not clear that she'll be able to do that between now and the end of the week.

BERMAN: And it is that moral issue that's creeping into that idea of the protections, it's that how you enforce border security is completely separate from how you choose to treat children.

CAMEROTA: Once they're here. Yes.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

BERMAN: When they're already here. And that seems to be where the problem is, David.

GREGORY: Yes, and I think, you know, they both have framed it so well, which is what we have now is an inhumane response to a real problem on the border and it seems to me the government, in this case, Congress, has to put humanity first. We have to have humane conditions. So there has to be funding of those agencies who are responsible for housing these children, these families who are coming across the border, and at the same time, do some things they may want to do in terms of a response, whether it's deportation or some way to deal with apprehensions at the border, while the president works with other countries like Mexico and Central American countries.

They have to try to buy as much time as they can and it seems like the speaker is doing that to try to come up with a larger fix here rather than what a lot in her caucus don't want to do which is simply throw money at the president's approach to immigration. But we are where we are and where we cannot stay is a situation where you have inhumane treatment of migrants who are coming across the border. That is -- it just has to be the starting point.

BERMAN: And I agree with you that moving 250 kids doesn't answer the whole problem but what it does show to me is that when people start to see what's happening and pay attention for a minute, it is unsustainable.

GREGORY: Right.

BERMAN: The public outcry here was just too much.

CAMEROTA: Good.

BERMAN: For this White House to take. And if --

(CROSSTALK)

GREGORY: And, John, we've seen that before, right?

BERMAN: Yes.

GREGORY: I mean, that's what's important.

BERMAN: The separations.

CAMEROTA: Family separations, yes.

GREGORY: Yes.

CAMEROTA: OK. Let's talk about the other story that is gripping headlines and that is, Abby, we all remember that during the 2016 campaign, there were something like 15 -- at least 15 women who came forward to say they had had some run-in with Donald Trump before he was president that was described as sexual assault or sexual misconduct.

Yesterday, it went further. Yesterday we had E. Jean Carroll on our air who described what is legally considered a rape. She does not call it that because she doesn't want the connotation that goes along with that. But legally that's the definition of rape that she includes in her book that just came out.

So the president of course had to respond to it. He was asked many times about it. He gave interesting responses and then he said this to "The Hill." This was his response yesterday. Quote, "I'll say it with great respect, number one, she's not my type. Number two, it never happened, it never happened. OK?" And you know, that's just being questioned whether that's the most sensitive way to deal with a rape accusation or even the wisest way because she's not my type? What does that mean?

[07:10:02] If she were his type, he -- what would he have done?

PHILLIP: And he started the sentence with, I'll say it with great respect, which seems a little bit of an oxymoron there. Look, this is a pattern of the president basically going to this place where he thinks that the best defense that he has against allegations of sexual misconduct or rape is that I didn't find the woman to be attractive. He has not learned from what happened in 2016 partly because he won in 2016.

I mean, I think that we really have to internalize that for President Trump, his response to the fact that there were dozens of women accusing him of a sexual assault or harassment or whatever was that it didn't end up mattering for him, and I think that's the approach that he's taking in response to this allegation and -- but I've said it before, the world has changed since 2016. I think people understand more what is an appropriate response to this, and it is not she was unattractive.

The president has not given any credence to the idea that this is a serious allegation that there are ways of responding to this that are more sensitive to the fact that women who are being raped or sexually assaulted are often not believed. There is no sense that the president wants to even go there but I think that the public is in a different place now, and we'll see how this has an impact, if only it makes it much, much more harder for the president to recoup support among women where he desperately, desperately needs it.

BERMAN: I'll also say divorce from the president, you know, rape, they say is not about lust, it's about power. Right? So the idea that she was unattractive to me --

CAMEROTA: And violence.

BERMAN: -- isn't even a defense.

CAMEROTA: And one more thing, on that note, she was Miss Indiana. She was a beauty queen and she was a celebrity by the time that they encountered each other in that department store, so actually she was his type. OK?

BERMAN: And Toluse, the other interesting thing that's happened about this is that "The New York Times," your competitor, has basically come out and said, you know, we didn't handle this story the right away. We put this information in the book section on Friday when there is an allegation of rape against the president of the United States, maybe this needs to be treated as a news story. And it was really only after your interview yesterday with E. Jean Carroll that I think this picked up the momentum that I think people think it should have.

OLORUNNIPA: Yes. That being said, there is sort of a numbness that we've all kind of ascribed to now that we've seen the president win in 2016 after that "Access Hollywood" tape, after the 15 to 16 women came out and basically accused him of similar behavior, the president bragged about it on tape, saying that he kisses women without asking for permission, and he just goes for it.

And when we see allegations that sort of line up with that kind of behavior, it's something that we should definitely pay attention to, and we should focus on, and it's clear that the "New York Times" wanted to sort of make up for what it believed was a mistake in not giving adequate attention to the story, in part because we have seen the president accused by so many different women.

We have seen him on tape talking about this type of behavior. And he did win, and he has been in office, and he does create so many headlines that it's hard to focus on one thing, but this is an area that he wants to -- that we want to focus on more.

CAMEROTA: Quickly, David.

GREGORY: Toluse makes an important point which is that the president, in one way, gets past these allegations by overwhelming the system with information, with scandal, with crisis that people move on. My question is, where does this kind of allegation go next, will this become something that is really picked up in the political context in a presidential campaign in the way he tried to use former President Bill Clinton's philandering against Hillary Clinton? Will a candidate who opposes him try to do the same thing?

CAMEROTA: You know, I had one of President Trump's supporters tell me once he floods the zone, and that's his strategy. He floods the zone, which is what David is describing.

Thank you all very much for that conversation.

BERMAN: All right. We have big developments happening this morning having to do with the United States and Iran. New insults being hurled back and forth. New claims of red lines being crossed. What does it all mean? The Iranian ambassador to the United Nations joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:18:17] BERMAN: New accusations being hurled back and forth between the United States and Iran. The president's National Security adviser says he does not trust Iran's word. Iranian leaders suggesting that the White House suffers from a mental disability.

Joining us now is Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, Majid Takht-Ravanchi.

Ambassador, thank you very much for being with us. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said that the sanctions, these new sanctions and the old sanctions are already in place mean closing the channel of diplomacy forever between the United States and Iran. What does that mean, forever?

MAJID TAKHT-RAVANCHI, AMBASSADOR OF IRAN TO THE U.N.: It means that the United States is not interested in real diplomacy. What they have been calling for is the submission, total submission of Iran to the demands of the United States, which is unjust because we had the -- not only with the U.S. but with a number of countries, with the U.S. president and we noticed that the U.S. is trying to push Iran to its unjust demands and finally, the Trump administration left the JCPOA, the nuclear deal.

And from that point, we have seen the mess in our region, which we are seeing today. The administration started with the withdrawal from the nuclear deal, then they just put aside the papers that they had for the oil sale of Iran. Later on they added that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard to its terrorism list, and they sent all their armada, naval armada, the fleets to our region. That shows that they are not interested in diplomacy.

BERMAN: Well, it was Iran that shot down the U.S. drone, correct?

[07:20:01] TAKHT-RAVANCHI: Iran did shot down the U.S. drone but the U.S. drone was definitely in our airspace. And we warned the drone for four times -- at least for four times but they didn't listen to the warnings.

BERMAN: I will say the U.S. says otherwise. I understand that some Russian officials this morning are suggesting that they have seen your version and they're more in line with your version but there is a disagreement on that.

President Rouhani has said that sanctions in war are both sides of the same coin. So do you believe you're at war with the United States now with these sanctions in place?

TAKHT-RAVANCHI: Definitely we are at economic war with the U.S. The U.S. has been trying to screw -- to put all the pressure that it can on the Iran to tighten the screw on the Iranian people, and definitely that is a war crime in our judgment.

BERMAN: Is it hurting? Is it hurting the Iranian economy?

TAKHT-RAVANCHI: Definitely it's hurting the Iranian people. We have managed and we will manage -- we will manage to run the country. But the fact of the matter is that the American administration is pushing lots of pressure on the Iranian people.

BERMAN: One way out of this would be to talk with the United States.

TAKHT-RAVANCHI: How can we talk with an administration which is trying to tighten the screw on the Iranian people? Yesterday they added another set of sanctions on Iran. How can we start a dialogue with an administration who is threatening Iran.

BERMAN: Look at North Korea. What do you take from the North Korean example because Kim Jong un, there are sanctions on North Korea, heavy sanctions on North Korea, and he has spoken to the United States.

TAKHT-RAVANCHI: The situation in North Korea is different from that of Iran. I believe in the case of Iran, we have to understand the culture of the Iranians, the culture of the Iranians does not accept intimidation, does not accept coercion, does not accept the -- receiving pressure from anybody. If their administration is sincere in its offer of talks, it should respect the Iranian people, it should respect -- it should use the right language about us.

BERMAN: If they change their language but keep some of the sanctions --

TAKHT-RAVANCHI: No, no. We are not talking about the -- you know, just the cosmetic behavior, we are seeking to have a different, I mean, different behavior from the U.S. administration.

BERMAN: President Trump called back a military strike on Iran in response to the downing of the drone. What would have happened had the United States gone through with that?

TAKHT-RAVANCHI: I think the whole region will be in total mess. Definitely Iran will not accept any attack on its territory.

BERMAN: Would you have responded with military action? TAKHT-RAVANCHI: Definitely we would respond to any attack against our

country.

BERMAN: On U.S. troops?

TAKHT-RAVANCHI: I'm not suggesting anything. I'm just saying that we cannot be expected to sit on our hands and we will respond to any attack on our country.

BERMAN: How does this end? What I don't understand as we sit here this morning and we hear the insults being hurled back and forth is how this ends because if Iran is unwilling to talk and the United States says these sanctions are going in place, it doesn't seem to me that anything changes.

TAKHT-RAVANCHI: I think the best thing to do is to go back to the negotiating table that the U.S. left. I mean, we had an agreement, we -- even we were talking with the current administration within the joint commission of the nuclear deal, Secretary Tillerson was attending a meeting while our foreign minister was there. So they were talking to each other within that context.

BERMAN: Can your government survive indefinitely with these sanctions in place?

TAKHT-RAVANCHI: No, we have managed. We have seen, you know, hard times in the past during the last 40 years, during eight years of war. We managed to run the country, and I think we can easily manage the current crisis.

BERMAN: Ambassador Majid Takht-Ravanchi, Ambassador, thank you for coming into NEW DAY. We appreciate you talking.

TAKHT-RAVANCHI: Thank you very much, sir.

BERMAN: All right. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: OK, John. House Democrats are debating the border crisis late into the evening last night. What is there to argue about? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:28:25] CAMEROTA: Children at the border are suffering in inhumane conditions and it seems like of all of the problems, that one should be easy to fix, but there is infighting over money. Here's how one Democratic leader describes the crisis at the border, in a tweet, Congresswoman Karen Bass explains, if a parent locked their child in a cage without soap or toothpaste, they would be charged with child abuse. If a parent were to put their 8-year-old in charge of caring for a toddler, they could be charged with child endangerment. Then the parents could go to jail. The Trump administration is guilty of abuse and neglect. This is state-sponsored child abuse.

Joining us now to discuss is that Democratic congresswoman, Karen Bass. She serves on the Judiciary Committee. She's also the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Congresswoman, thank you very much. I know how strongly you feel about this. You've been tweeting.

REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): I do.

CAMEROTA: What is the problem? How hard is it to approve money to get these kids soap and toothpaste and some beds?

BASS: Well, see, first of all, we definitely need to approve the money but I do not think that is the issue at all. You cannot tell me that the federal government does not have money for toothpaste and soap. This is inflicted on these children as punishment to try to bring Democrats to the table to compromise on the border wall. I think that is absolutely important.

The other thing that I think is critical is that we need to stop saying that the policy for family separation has ended. It has not. Since when is a grandmother, an aunt or a sibling not considered family? Only at the U.S. border.

CAMEROTA: You make such a good point because some of the watchdogs have gone down, different professors say -- from universities who have gone down to interview these kids, let me read --

[07:30:00]