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AT THIS HOUR

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), Presidential Candidate Discusses Democratic Presidential Debate, Elitist Candidates Not Connecting to Voters, Exchange with Gabbard Over Troops in Afghanistan; Congress Scrambles to Pass Border Aid Bill Before Recess; Sen. Ben Cardin (D- MD) Discusses Emergency Border Aid Bills, Trump Meetings With Russia & China Leaders at G-20, Supreme Court Decisions on Census, Gerrymandering; Friends of Trump's Sexual Assault Accuser Corroborate Story. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired June 27, 2019 - 11:30   ET

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


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[11:32:48] REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): We have a perception problem with the Democratic Party. We are not connecting to the working-class people in the very states that I represent in Ohio, in the industrial Midwest. We've lost all connection.

We have got to change the center of gravity of the Democratic Party from being coastal and elitist and Ivy League, which is the perception, to somebody from the forgotten communities that have been left behind for the last 30 years, to get those workers back on our side.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: That was a powerful moment from last night. That was Congressman Tim Ryan with a stark warning for his party about what their message is and who their message is to.

Was that message missing from what we heard from the debate stage? Is that the message Democratic voters need to hear?

Let's discuss. Democratic presidential candidate and Ohio congressman, Tim Ryan, is joining me here.

Congressman, thanks for being here.

RYAN: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: I assume you got little sleep, so let's get right to it.

How do you think last night went?

RYAN: I thought it was great. We got a good amount of time, and I got the message across, the message that you played, about really trying to reconnect with the working class and really focusing on those economic issues that so many people are feeling. And 75 percent of the population is still living paycheck to paycheck. And we have got to focus like a laser beam on that.

It's the right issue to take Donald Trump on because he's talking about how great the economy is, when it's really not, and I want us to focus on that.

BOLDUAN: One of the biggest takeaways from the broader conversation is something of a debate of who could be more progressive. Your warning to the Democratic Party, that moment we played, that the Democratic Party is alienating middle America, do you think the other Democrats on the stage get that?

RYAN: Well, I don't know. It's hard to tell. But we're talking about taking people's private insurance away. We're talking about not being strong on terrorism. Those aren't winning messages for us in the states that we need to win.

And all I'm saying is, look, we see the Supreme Court ruling come out about redistricting. We see what's happening with the abortion laws. We see what's happening the tax cuts going to the top 1 percent. We can't stop a damn thing unless we start winning elections,

[11:35:09] So what I'm trying to communicate to everybody is, let's get an agenda that can unite the country, bring everybody together around the working-class agenda. People have so much economic anxiety. Let's speak to it.

I know this best because I've been living in these communities. I told the story about my cousin unbolting the machine from the factory floor, putting it in a box and shipping it to China. That's how I've spent my entire life, watching this economic train wreck happen. Most Americans have to. And if we don't speak to that anxiety, we're not going to win elections and we're going to pack the court and we'll get screwed on every issue we really care about.

BOLDUAN: Do you think -- I mean, when you are talking about coastal elites last night, the folks on the stage, what was being discussed last night, do you think they're elitist?

RYAN: I think we come as super intellectual, super smart, have all the details, but we're not connecting. And so if we don't have that emotional connection to the workers, then they don't want to hear about our 10-point plan, regardless of what it is. I've got plans. We all have plans. I've been in Congress 17 years. I can give you a laundry list of exactly what I would do on day one.

But people want to know you understand what they are going through. And that's hard to see coming out of last night with the vast majority of them.

Look, it's not all coastal people. What I'm saying is -- and I mentioned it last night -- there are tent cities of homeless people in L.A. There's people in New York who can't afford a home and there's an affordable-housing crisis in the country. It's about working-class people, white, black, gay, straight, man, woman, north, south, factory workers, farmers. Come together, set the agenda.

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you, you also had a heated exchange with a fellow member of Congress, Tulsi Gabbard, over U.S. troops in Afghanistan. For our viewers, let me play it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

REP. TULSI GABBARD (D-HI): We cannot keep sending U.S. forces to Afghanistan thinking we're going to somehow squash this Taliban --

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: I didn't say -- I didn't say --

(CROSSTALK)

GABBARD: -- that have been there. Every other country has failed.

RYAN: I didn't say squash them. I didn't say squash them. When we weren't in there, they started flying planes into our buildings. So I'm just saying right now --

(CROSSTALK)

GABBARD: The Taliban didn't attack us on 9/11. Al Qaeda did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Do you wish you had that moment over?

RYAN: No, not at all. Not at all. I mean, the Taliban housed al Qaeda in Afghanistan, because we weren't there. I'm not saying we need 14,000 troops there. And I think we can take some troops out. But the question was, do we leave those areas open for terrorists to --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Do you think that was a cheap shot coming from Gabbard on fact checking you on the Taliban?

RYAN: Yes. I mean, clearly, we didn't have enough time to get into the details but the Taliban housed al Qaeda. She was trying to score points. I think whoever got that question on Afghanistan, she was going to go after.

And, quite frankly, she doesn't have very good judgment on a lot of these issues. She was actually meeting with Assad not long after he was gassing children in Syria. So I don't think her judgment is up to speed on some of these issues.

But look, the number-one job of the president is to keep people secure. And we are very concerned about any life that gets lost on behalf of this country. And our job is to keep people safe. And those areas can't be left wide open and those people have not died in vain who are protecting us.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, thanks for coming in. Congrats on having the first big debate under your belt.

RYAN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: We'll see you on the trail.

RYAN: Thank you. I'll be there.

BOLDUAN: Thanks so much.

Coming up for us still, Congress up against the clock. Yes, again, up against a clock. It happens all the time. But they're up against this clock in an important deadline to do something to address the growing crisis at the border amid reports of migrant children living in filth in government facilities. Can Congress reach a deal? An important Senator in all of this, Senator Ben Carden, he joins me next.

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[11:43:32] BOLDUAN: The clock is ticking. Right now, the House and Senate seem to be staring each other down. The House passed a bill earlier this week aimed at relieving the overcrowding and the unhealthy conditions for migrants on the southern U.S. border. Yesterday, the Senate passed its own version. But it's not going -- neither of them are going anywhere until the Republican-led Senate, the Democratic-led House make a deal or, quite frankly, one side blinks.

And they're all watching the clock as the Fourth of July recess begins tomorrow and they're all set to head back to the districts. What is going to happen right now because it's kind of the definition of crunch time?

Democratic Senator Ben Cardin, of Maryland, is with me now.

Senator, thank you for being here.

SEN. BEN CARDIN (D-MD): Kate, it's good to be with you. Thanks.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

I hear almost everyone saying, we're not leaving town until this gets done but it also looks like Democratic-led House, Republican-led Senate aren't budging. What's going to happen with this emergency funding?

CARDIN: First, it's important that we get it done now. The issues are critical. The funding is needing. It's not the reason why we have our crisis, but we must make sure that the agency has the funds necessary to take care of these families. So we've got to get it done.

The bill that passed the Senate is a good bill. The House has some suggestions that could improve the bill. I understand that Speaker Pelosi has a few changes that she would like to make in the Senate bill. I hope we consider that. And let's get it done today and pass the bill on. That's how the process should work. One side should not dominate.

But we should get together and get it done today.

[11:45:05] BOLDUAN: How the process should work is often how the process does not work, as we know, on Capitol Hill.

You supported the Senate, the Senate version of the bill. Broad partisan support for it. At this point, should Democrats in the House give in and support what you say is a good bill, being up against a deadline? As is often said, don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Do you see that here?

CARDIN: I think the Senate bill is a good bill. I think it will help deal with the immediate crisis of having funds to take care of family needs so they can get soap, so they can get toothpaste, so they can have beds and they can have clothing, they can have adequate facilities. I think that's clearly contained in the Senate bill. But is this an opportunity to do better than that?

I would hope that the Senate Republican leaders would be willing to listen to Speaker Pelosi and see whether we can't get some of her House ideas into the final version without upsetting the bipartisan support we have in the United States Senate.

BOLDUAN: But if it's -- but if it's a good bill, should they give in at the end?

CARDIN: We need to pass a bill. There's no question about it. We have to get it done.

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you about a couple of other things. Because, right now -- you're in the Foreign Relations Committee. The president in Japan for some very big meetings in the G-20 summit. Two big meetings. Let's be specific about it.

One, of the Chinese president to talk about the trade war, still ongoing. Another meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. And what they're going to talk -- what they're going to talk about, Putin and Trump, we do know because, as the president was leaving, he told reporters, quote, "it's none of your business."

What are you watching for in the next day, Senator?

CARDIN: We know by previous meetings this can have some really serious consequences. I hope that the president takes this opportunity to try to ease the potential conflict between the United States and Iran. It would be good to have a broader understanding on how we can proceed to resolve that controversy without the use of military force.

In regard to President Xi, I hope they take the opportunity to ease the trade tensions between our two countries and recognize that we need to make progress on the serious issues we have against China, but also recognize that a trade war will not help either country.

BOLDUAN: The Supreme Court, Senator, handed down some major decisions that have everything to do with politics, in regard to the census and gerrymandering, and both have something to do with your state, actually. The court said that they can't decide when partisan gerrymandering goes too far and they also sent the census decision back to a lower court at the moment.

What's your reaction to what happened this morning?

CARDIN: Well, I was disappointed by the Supreme Court decision. I would have hoped that they could have given us guidance on this issue that affects the rights of every American.

But it's not over. The Supreme Court said let Congress or the states act. There's legislation that's passed the House of Representatives to deal with the establishing bipartisan type of commissions on redistricting.

I would hope that the Congress would take up the issue now that the Supreme Court --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: You would hope -- but would you be betting how likely it would be that the Senate and the Congress would take that issue up?

CARDIN: I would acknowledge that, listening to the language of Leader McConnell, that we have a challenge in the Senate for this issue coming to the floor of the Senate.

But I tell you, the American people are demanding that we deal with it. Redistricting is done in too partisan of a way. There's a better way. Congress should act. The states should act. I was disappointed that the Supreme Court did not act.

BOLDUAN: There's a reason you're on the Foreign Relations Committee. That was a very diplomatic way of saying it.

Senator Cardin, thank you for coming in. I really appreciate it.

CARDIN: Kate, good to be with you. Thanks.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

Coming up for us, a major development in E. Jean Carol's accusation of sexual assault against President Trump. Two friends say that they can corroborate her story. She told them and she told them a long time ago. What they're saying, next.

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[11:53:00] BOLDUAN: Author E. Jean Carroll says President Trump sexually assaulted her in the 1990s in a department store dressing room in New York. She has come out to tell her story. She has also said that she told two of her friends about it when it happened. Well, now those two friends are speaking out. And we're going to hear from them.

But first, I want to play what Carroll told CNN herself.

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E. JEAN CARROLL, JOURNALIST & AUTHOR: When we walked into the Lingerie Department, there was nobody there, which is strange. It was in the evening, so.

And on the counter were three really fancy boxes and a see-through body suit. He walked right to the body suit and snatched it up and said, go put this on. Now, that struck me as so funny because, here I am, 52 -- I'm not going to be -- my idea was I said, no, you put it on. And he said, no, it looks like it fits you.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: You go into the dressing room. You think he's going to hold it up against you.

CARROLL: Yes.

CAMEROTA: And then it gets violent.

CARROLL: Right. 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: President Trump has denied any of that happened, telling a reporter -- telling reporters on Monday that E. Jean Carroll is lying, And of course, you will remember that he also said that, quote, "She's not my type."

CNN's political -- CNN political correspondent, Sara Murray, is here. She has been following this.

Sara, you had a chance to talk to these two friends. They are speaking out to the "New York Times" as well. What are they saying today?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. They originally wanted to remain anonymous. Now they have gone on the record, speaking to "The Daily" and basically sharing their account of what it was like to hear E. Jean Carroll's story for the first time. You know, their friend coming to them after this alleged attack --

BOLDUAN: Right.

MURRAY: -- and basically how they responded in telling her what to do.

So here's a sound bite from them on "The Daily" explaining how they reacted when they heard this news from E. Jean Carroll.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LISA BIRNBACH, FRIEND OF E. JEAN CARROLL (voice-over): I said, let's go to the police. No. Come to my house. No, I want to go home. I'll take you to the police. No. It was 15 minutes of my life, it's over. Don't ever tell anybody. I just had to tell you.

[11:55:15] CAROL MARTIN, FRIEND OF E. JEAN CARROLL (voice-over): I said, don't tell anybody? I wouldn't tell anybody this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MURRAY: You can see that one of her friends, Lisa Birnbach, recounting how reluctant Carroll was to go to the police in the first place. And Carol Martin, her other friend, told her, at the time, don't tell anybody this, you know, Donald Trump, he's going to bury you, he has so many more lawyers. I think one of the --

BOLDUAN: It really shows the struggle people go through.

MURRAY: Yes, absolutely. And obviously, not at all uncommon for people who have been sexually assault, who have been attacked, to not report that. We know that.

I think one of the powerful things about Carol Martin and Lisa Birnbach going on the record is both of these women are well established in media. Carol Martin was an anchor in New York television for a very long time. Lisa Birnbach is an author, a writer. She wrote "The Official Preppie Handbook." They're journalists. They're not people who are inclined to invent these stories along the way.

And they have these sorts of vivid memories of what these conversations were like with E. Jean Carroll at the time this happened.

It was a really fascinating listening to them and hear them go on the record.

BOLDUAN: And fascinating, the people, who these friends are, their recollection of it, their clarity of the recollection of it, is an important thing to hear, yes.

Good to see you, Sara. Thank you so much.

Coming up for us, we're going to go back to breaking news this hour. The Supreme Court handing down two major decisions with enormous political implications. Details on what this means for years to come, ahead.

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