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Two GOP Senators: Trump Should Be Investigated On Rape Allegation; NRA To Shut Down Production Of NRATV; Trump Responds To Soccer Star Saying She's Not Going To White House"; Trump's Protocol Chief Suspended Ahead of G-20. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired June 26, 2019 - 14:30   ET



[14:31:08] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Two Republican lawmakers are taking a stand and speaking out about the rape allegations made against President Trump. Iowa Senator Joni Ernst and Utah Senator Mitt Romney said the allegations should be investigated.

Senator Ernst believes both the president and the accuser. Her name is E. Jean Carroll. She said both should be questioned. Senator Romney said there should be an evaluation, but he wasn't sure who could should conduct it.

Maeve Reston is CNN's national political reporter and Kristen Houser is the chief public affairs officer for RALIANCE, a national partnership dedicated to ending sexual violence.

Ladies, thank you for being here.

Maeve, first to you.

The politics of this, you know, yes, those two Republicans are speaking out and saying there should be an investigation. But a lot of other Republicans have sidestepped this or said, he's denied it, we're moving on.

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: It was amazing, our Capitol Hill team talked to so many Republicans who said, either Trump's denial is enough for me, or folks like Marco Rubio said, I don't know what you're talking about. Senator Tim Scott saying he hadn't taken the time to look into it.

I don't know what that says about where we are after the #metoo movement.

But it is significant these two Senators have come forward. Joni Ernst is the victim of rape herself and has talked about how important it is for women to come forward when they're ready to face their demons.

And so we'll see what happens. It doesn't sound like there's a lot of will power. Most of the time, it seems like they'd rather turn a blind eye to this.

BALDWIN: To your point of where we are, I want to ask Kristen this question.

Reminding everyone, this is the president of the United States who has been accused of rape. He denied it, and so far, is saying, she's not my type. There are other women coming forward with allegations that he continues to deny. This is quite serious. I wanted your thoughts on this.

KRISTEN HOUSER, CHIEF PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER, RALIANCE: It is serious, but we have to keep in mind that people who behave in these ways and commit these crimes are the ones that are making decisions about who, what, where and how they're happening. And they ensure, most of the time, that there's a low likelihood of being caught.

So having a denial is pretty standard, not having witness or documentary evidence is pretty much a signature mark. And having two people, one word against the other, is very common. There's nothing unusual about this allegation to make it suspect of not being consistent with what sexual assault looks like.

BALDWIN: But, Kristen, to Senator Romney's point about essentially saying, I don't know who would conduct this, what would an investigation into this look like? This is the president of the United States.

HOUSER: Right. I think that's a great question. The normal things we think of in terms of criminal investigations -- the statute of limitations is expired. If there needs to be a congressional hearing to look into ethical behavior, that is not in our realm.

It's fine to say we want an investigation. But any investigation needs to be using the right ruler about recognizing what sexual assault really looks like. And it's not something you should expect to have third-party independent backups of the victim's story.

When you have a delayed report, which is normal and par for the course, particularly when you have an offender who's a high-profile person, you're going to be left with, do you believe the veracity of what the victim is reporting and what their account is, or are you going to believe someone who denies the allegation? It really just comes down to that.

So she's already provided names of other people who had an outcry from her immediately after it happened.. One of them advised her to not go forward with the report.

[14:35:08] There's nothing wrong with investigating that. But in terms of what the intended outcome of that is, I think that should be determined before they dig into the lives of these people.

BALDWIN: Pause on what's happening now. Let's go back to 2016. Remember that debate? Trump got a bunch of women together who claim that former President Bill Clinton had sexually assaulted them. And one of the women was Juanita Broaddrick. This is what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JUANITA BROADDRICK, CLAIMS FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON SEXUALLY ASSAULTED HER: The actions speak louder than words. Mr. Trump may have said some bad words, but Bill Clinton raped me and Hillary Clinton threatened me. I don't think there's any comparison.


BALDWIN: And Trump called Broaddrick courageous for telling her story. So if Broaddrick is courageous, why isn't Carroll courageous as well.

HOUSER: To respond the way the president has responded to it is so -- it's so mind-boggling. And I think that Republicans have to be careful here. Because what we did see in 2018 was all of these women, mothers and daughters, coming out to the polls for the first time, because they didn't like the way that Trump handled the allegations against himself. And they didn't like the way that he was talking about women in the Oval Office.

There's a risk for Republicans not taking this seriously, if they want to win in 2020.

And just like Juanita Broaddrick needed to be heard, these allegations need to be heard. And we have two Senators saying they should be investigated.

BALDWIN: Maeve Reston, thank you very much.

And Kristen Houser, thank you as well.

Nice to have you on, ladies, both of you.

Meantime, the president fires back at Iran, calling its leaders selfish and stupid if they don't negotiate with him.

Plus, the Senate is set to vote on a multibillion aid package for the border. I'll ask Senator Amy Klobuchar where she stands on that plan. That's coming up next.


[14:41:53] BALDWIN: Just in, in the first of a series of votes on border funding, the Senate just voted down the House-passed bill on border aide. More votes underway, including a bipartisan Senate compromise bill. We're watching that for you.

Fresh indications today of trouble in the NRA. They have a TV operation. It's called NRATV. But as of today, new production is getting shut down.

Here's one of the stories the streaming channel presented that drew widespread criticism. NRATV host, Dana Loesch, put white Klan hoods on figures from "Thomas & Friends" cartoon characters to criticize the popular kids' show for adding a new train from Africa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DANA LOESCH, NRATV HOST: I'm really struggling to understand, how in the world there isn't any diversity in any of this. Oh, was it because -- I see it. It was the white hoods. And the burning train tracks. OK, fine. Fair point. I get it.


BALDWIN: CNN Political Correspondent, Sara Murray, is up on this one today.

Is this the latest indication there's trouble brewing inside the NRA?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: There definitely is trouble brewing in the NRA. It's a mess right now. The end of NRATV isn't a surprise. The NRA is locked in this battle with their longtime advertising firm, Ackerman McQueen. They've gone to court, trading lawsuits back and forth.

You know some sides are saying, look, the head of the NRA, Wayne Lapierre, lost hundreds of thousands of dollars on suits, he's mismanaging the finances. The NRA is saying, we paid Ackerman McQueen tens of million dollars, and they can't tell us what that went to.

One of the things Ackerman McQueen was in charge of was NRATV. As a result of this relationship breaking down, we're losing NRATV. Those many won't miss it because not that many people watched it, even though it cost a lot to produce.

And the latest indication of this turmoil comes today when the NRA announced Wayne Lapierre sent out a message to employees, saying Chris Cox, the chief lobbyist, has resigned. This guy has been like Wayne Lapierre's shadow. If you see Wayne Lapierre at an event, Chris Cox is right there.


MURRAY: He was seen as Wayne Lapierre's protege. He was named in a lawsuit. Recently, he was named in a lawsuit and they accused him of trying to be part of this coup to overthrow Wayne Lapierre. They put him on administrative leave. And apparently, now he's resigned rather than go through with this employment fight.

Things are a mess in a big way, in a way we don't usually see, because this group is to quiet and so tightlipped.

BALDWIN: Do you think NRATV, is that it?

MURRAY: I think it's possible that's the end of it. Part of the reason I think they're fine with letting it go is there are some board members and other members within the organization who looked at it and thought, what a waste of money, we're muddling our own message here.

There are plenty of people, who are pro Second Amendment that I talked to, who don't want to be aligned with figures like Dana Loesch. They don't want to be aligned with the far right of the Republican Party. They want to bring people in on this one issue, which is to say gun

rights, and not alienate people with rhetoric that got, as you saw there, which got crazy on NRATV.

BALDWIN: That's one way to put it.


[14:45:06] BALDWIN: Sara Murray, thank you very much.

The president now responding to soccer star, Megan Rapinoe, who says she's, quote, unquote, "Not going to the "F"ing White House."

Plus, Democrats voting to subpoena White House Counselor, Kellyanne Conway. Hear why.


[14:50:21] BALDWIN: President Trump's message to U.S. women's soccer star, Megan Rapinoe, "Finish the job, then come to the White House."

This, after Rapinoe, a harsh critic of the Trump administration, was asked before she went to France if she would visit the White House if her team won the World Cup. Her response surfaced today.


MEGAN RAPINOE, WOMEN'S SOCCER STAR: I'm not going to the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) White House. No, we're not going to the White House. We're not going to be invited.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You're not going to be invited?

RAPINOE: I doubt it.


BALDWIN: Once Rapinoe's refusal went public, it didn't long for President Trump to respond to that. He took to Twitter this morning, putting out a series of tweets, all directed at the star midfielder.

He tweeted: "I am a big fan of the American team and women's soccer, but Megan should win first before she talks. Finish the job. We haven't yet invited Megan or the team. But I am now inviting the team, win or lose."

Monday the U.S. advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals. They will play France on Friday.

Any moment, the Senate voting on a bipartisan bill for the border. This all comes as the president blames Democrats for the tragic deaths of a father and daughter who drowned trying to get on U.S. soil. We have that.

Also, ahead of the president's G-20 trip, his protocol chief gets suspended over alleged accusations against his staff. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:56:07] BALDWIN: The president's protocol chief suspended indefinitely right before President Trump is to meet with world leaders at the G-20 summit in Japan. Two State Department officials telling CNN Sean Lawler was told Monday he needed to leave because of an investigation into his conduct.

CNN Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, Michelle Kosinski, is following this one for us.

Michelle, this is coming before the G-20. Seems to indicate investigators didn't want to wait on this. What is he accused of?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: This is sudden and not sudden. We're told by multiple sources at the State Department that, on Monday afternoon, Lawler was called into the deputy secretary's office out of the blue, according to one source, and was told that he needed to leave immediately and that he was suspended now indefinitely pending a State Department investigation into his behavior.

The multiple State Department employees we talked to, some of whom who worked closely with them, said they felt this was a long time coming. They described his behavior as both, quote, "terrible and obvious."

One of the people we talked to described a recent meeting. This was a routine planning meeting where Lawler would ask questions. If he didn't get the response he wanted, he would start, in the words of this employee, "screaming berating: the employees at the table, that he would use profanity, that he would use the "F" word. And this happened many times.

There are multiple people within the State Department who felt like his behavior was like that for a long time. Why didn't something happen earlier?

He was in a big position at the State Department, liaison between the State Department and the White House. He carries an ambassador title. It's the person who instructs the president in matters of protocol around the world and organizes these big events and makes sure things run smoothly.

Lawler hasn't responded to any of our requests for the comment. We know the State Department isn't commenting. The White House isn't commenting.

And we can't get a real confirmation of an internal investigation of, what does this entail. They don't talk about personnel matters and they don't talk about pending investigations. We don't know how far along it is.

But staffers were told yesterday afternoon that he's gone, pending the results of the investigation.

They have a new acting chief of protocol, and a new acting deputy -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Acting, again.

Michelle Kosinski, thank you very much.

We continue on. Top of the hour. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN.

With each passing day, the crisis at the border and the political fight over how to fix it intensifies.

Moments ago, President Trump weighed in on a photograph that has left Americans on both sides of the aisle heart broken.

While the image you're about to see is graphic, I urge you not to look away.

This is Oscar and Angie Martinez. On Sunday, they drowned as they tried to cross the Rio Grande. Their bodies were found a day later face down in the water. You can see little Angie, just 23 months old, clinging to her father. Again, please don't look away.

The Martinezs died after a two-month wait in Mexico, sometimes in triple-digit temperatures, all in hopes of getting political asylum in the United States.

This is how the president reacted to their story.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hate it. And I know it could stop immediately if the Democrats change the laws. They have to change the laws. And then that father, who was probably this wonderful guy, with his daughter, things like that wouldn't happen.