Return to Transcripts main page


President Trump Jokes With Vladimir Putin About Election Meddling At G20; Iowa Voters React To Second Round Of Democratic Primary Debate; CNN Goes Inside Migrant Center On The Border. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired June 28, 2019 - 05:30   ET



[05:34:20] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Breaking this morning, a moment that raised eyebrows and frankly, new questions about the president's priorities. President Trump meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin and seeming to joke about the Russian attack on the U.S. election.


REPORTER: Will you tell Russia not to meddle in the 2020 election?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, of course, I will. Don't meddle in the election, please. Don't meddle in the election.


BERMAN: Joining us now from Japan, Jim Sciutto, CNN's chief national security correspondent and anchor of "CNN NEWSROOM". Also, Kaitlin Collins, CNN White House correspondent.

Jim, the president made fun of the notion of the Russian attack on the U.S. election. It's hard to see that moment as anything besides that.

[05:35:02] What's your reaction?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM": Listen, what was interesting was that the president was smiling as he made that reference, as was Vladimir Putin.

So, it was a joke between the two of them -- Russian interference in the U.S. election in 2016, 2018, and 2020, right? That's the view of the intelligence agencies. This will not stop. It will happen again.

And just about a year after the infamous Helsinki moment when President Trump stood next to Vladimir Putin -- in fact, the last time they were together publicly when he took Putin's side over U.S. intelligence agencies as to whether Russia even interfered in the election. Eleven months after that, the president with a clear opportunity here to be clear that this is something that the U.S. will not stand for -- that the U.S. president will not stand for -- and he made a joke of it. And it's not just the words, right, because we know that the president

has had one cabinet-level meeting on election security. We know that Mick Mulvaney instructed Kirstjen Nielsen not to bring up election security to the president.

So it's not just words, but it's lack of action -- not a priority for him. Whereas, it is a priority for everyone else in national security, as well as Republicans and Democrats on the Hill. It was a remarkable, and I think you have to say disappointing moment.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: It's also a priority for Vladimir Putin, according to our national security experts, that they are gearing up --


CAMEROTA: -- for 2020.

And can we just play that moment one more time because did he say, "OK, don't meddle in our election, please?" Did he -- did he add a "please?" Can we just play this --

SCUITTO: Please.

CAMEROTA: -- one more time?


REPORTER: Will you tell Russia not to meddle in the 2020 election?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, of course, I will. Don't meddle in the election, please. Don't meddle in the election.


CAMEROTA: I thought so. There's a -- Kaitlin, there's a quality of "Thank you, sir. May I have another?" to that, that I'm just wondering if inside -- from your reporting inside the White House, there's a feeling anyone is concerned that President Trump is being played by Vladimir Putin.

KAITLIN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a concern about election meddling, certainly, and that's what you hear from officials. They'll say, 'We're worried about election security and we're working on this. We don't need to wait for the president to give us some kind of directive to do so.'

But, of course, you see the president there and it really just is revealing -- a very revealing moment of his relationship overall with Vladimir Putin. And there, according to the White House transcript, he said "president" not "please." But there were some reporters who weren't sure what it was that they heard -- even some of the people who were in the room with him because it was such a low volume.

But it really does show just what their relationship is and how the president has repeatedly cast doubt on what the U.S. Intelligence Community has showed. And that was also evident in Helsinki when the president equated, essentially, Vladimir Putin's denial with what the Intelligence Community has concluded.

Another interesting dynamic here at play is you'll remember the president was supposed to meet with Vladimir Putin at the last G20 summit but he canceled it because that was after Russia has seized those Ukrainian ships and detained those Ukrainian soldiers and the sailors. And the president said he wasn't going to meet with him until that issue was resolved.

But we should note that those sailors are still being held by the Russians, yet the president sat down with him. And when we asked the White House about the discrepancy between the two of those, they did not get back to us.

BERMAN: You know, one thing that's interesting, you bring up whether President Trump is getting played.

We saw the Rex Tillerson transcripts overnight. Rex Tillerson sat down with Congress. We just saw those transcripts overnight. The former Secretary of State saying that President Trump wasn't prepared for his meetings with Vladimir Putin the same way that Vladimir Putin was.

So, that's just what we see in public -- that snippet -- that photo right there. What goes on behind closed doors is a whole different story.

CAMEROTA: It's also just as concerning --


CAMEROTA: -- if not more so, according to Rex Tillerson and others.

BERMAN: One other picture we want to look at Jim, this morning -- we saw sort of an image of President Trump interacting as they're walking through here. He's with Vladimir Putin and he is with the Saudi Crown Prince also, Mohammad bin Salman. It seems to be that those are the people he's gravitating towards at this summit.

Well, not right there. That was the South Korean leader and also, we see Shinzo Abe there.

SCIUTTO: Yes, there was --

BERMAN: But there was a moment when he was with Mohammad bin Salman --

SCIUTTO: There was a moment --

BERMAN: -- and Putin. Talk to me about that.

SCIUTTO: Yes, and he sort of put his arm kind of gently on his lower back and had a few friendly words with him.

Listen, this is a president who often reserves his strongest public criticism for U.S. allies -- criticism of NATO. How much NATO allies are spending on the alliance, for instance.

But, pulls punches with Vladimir Putin, expresses a loving relationship (his word) with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. And, as we saw in the president's interview with NBC over the weekend on the question of Jamal Khashoggi, the president, in effect, saying he's ready to move on.

And there's the picture there now with him next to the Crown Prince, you saw there.

But the president wants to move on. That he wants to focus on the billions of dollars, as he said, of things that the Saudis buy from us and not the brutal murder of a journalist.

[05:40:00] Which I should note, John and Alisyn, as you well know, that this administration was required by law by February of this year to report as to who had been held responsible for that murder and still has not fulfilled that obligation under U.S. law.

BERMAN: All right, Jim Sciutto for us, Kaitlin Collins -- guys, stand by.

I know these meetings continue. We could see this all play out for us over the course of the morning. Please keep us posted.

The other major news this morning, the fallout from the Democratic debate. The huge moment from Sen. Kamala Harris.

How did voters see this exchange? We're getting fresh reaction from Iowa. That's next.


BERMAN: New reaction just coming in to the debate last night and the moment everyone is talking about -- Sen. Kamala Harris confronting Joe Biden. What did voters think about that?

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich was with votes in Des Moines in the crucial state of Iowa. She joins us live.

Vanessa, those voters, they get the first whack at these candidates in the Iowa caucuses. What are they saying this morning?


We attended a watch party put on by the local county Democrats here in Des Moines, Iowa and this was just for undecided voters. No campaign staffers were allowed because they didn't want outside influence. But many, last night, still walked away undecided -- but a few walked away with some new front-runners.


YURKEVICH (voice-over): These are the undecideds.

LUANN PEDRICK, IOWA VOTER: I'm still shopping right now. I'm still interested in what people have to say.

PETER SHERINIAN, IOWA VOTER: They've got to sell it. If they can't sell it to me, then I'm not going to vote for them.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): A roomful of Iowans all looking for a candidate to get behind. The Polk County Democrats in Des Moines wanted a safe space for voters to explore their options.

SEAN BAGNIEWSKI, CHAIRMAN, POLK COUNTY DEMOCRATS, DES MOINES, IOWA: This is for, actually, uncommitted people. We're not having any campaign staff here. We have had some campaign staff ask to send folks here and that's not allowed.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Voters wanted to hear from the candidates on the issues.

PEDRICK: I'm very interested in health care.

YURKEVICH (on camera): Is the economy the number one issue for you?

SHERINIAN: Absolutely, absolutely -- then, the environment.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): But about halfway through, Deb Hansen was frustrated.

DEB HANSEN, IOWA VOTER: It's like being in a class of kindergartners, you know. Everybody's trying to talk. Everybody's trying to get their attention. And I appreciate that they want to do that -- they want their voice heard -- but yes, let people speak and then take your turn.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): For some undecideds who were able to hear the candidates, front-runners started to emerge.

ANITA FLEMING-RIFE, IOWA VOTER: Kamala Harris did a really good job tonight.

And I think Buttigieg -- he, too, I thought, did a really, really good job. He surprised me. I haven't been paying much attention to him but I really liked his delivery tonight.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Michael Stroller also took notice of Mayor Buttigieg.

MICHAEL SCHOLER, IOWA VOTER: I've seen Mayor Pete. I think he did really well tonight. I'm also a veteran so I admire the fact that he's also a veteran.

YURKEVICH (on camera): Could you pick someone out of the 20 candidates that you've seen over the last two nights?

SCHOLER: Ooh, that's really rough. That's a tough question.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): One thing is clear for voters here in Iowa, it's still anyone's game.

BAGNIEWSKI: If anybody says they know how this is going to turn out, either they work for a campaign or they're lying to you.


YURKEVICH: Voters here in Des Moines, Iowa won't have to wait too much longer to hear from the candidates again and that's because many of them will be stopping by here in person. Kamala Harris and Beto O'Rourke are scheduled to be here in Des Moines next week.

So, Alisyn, instead of the moderators getting to ask the tough questions, voters here will have their opportunity to ask the candidates the tough questions, themselves -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Vanessa, that will be so interesting, as it was to hear from viewers last night and their first impressions. Thank you very much.

So, what are conditions like inside the holding facilities for migrant children? CNN got inside and we'll tell you what our journalists found, next.


[05:51:29] CAMEROTA: CNN getting an inside look at a migrant processing center on the border in McAllen, Texas. This is one that houses minors and also families and adults.

CNN's Natasha Chen is live on the border with what CNN found. What's going on inside there, Natasha?


Our colleague went inside that McAllen facility yesterday. Keep in mind, this is a Customs and Border Protection holding facility not really meant to take care of people for an extended period of time. And this was 'pen and paper only' tour -- no cameras allowed -- very similar to a tour given to another crew of ours here at the Clint, Texas facility near where I'm standing the day before.

Now, at this McAllen facility, our colleague said that the difference between her visit yesterday and her visit to the same place three months ago was that they were asked to actually put on masks during their tour, and that could be because of a heightened awareness of spreadable illness.

But the way she described the space is it's a warehouse-type of space with divisions for three different groups of migrants. There are single adults, unaccompanied minors, and family units. And the majority of them are family units -- more than 1,000 of them.

But she said, by far, the single adults are the ones who are in the most uncomfortable space. They have no mats or anything to sleep on. They're basically lying side-by-side on the concrete floor.

And she said they are also the ones being held there the longest -- on average, about four days right now, versus the unaccompanied minors and family units, there for a maximum of three days. She also observed babies and toddlers -- about six of them -- being cared for by Coast Guard members. And she said basically, this is not a place anyone would want to stay.

And, John, when she asked why some people were being processed more slowly, the person giving the tour told her this is what happens when there's not enough funding.

BERMAN: All right, Natasha Chen. Natasha, thank you very much.

And we do want to note, cameras were not allowed inside. Ask yourself why the government won't let our cameras inside to show you for yourselves what it looks like there.

In the meantime, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE" does not have a show this week or after these debates, but one cast member, Kate McKinnon -- oh, my. An imitation of one of the presidential candidates you cannot miss. That's next.


[05:58:14] CAMEROTA: The late-night hosts were up late last night to react to the debate. Here are your "Late-Night Laughs."




SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bussed to school every day. And that little girl was me.

TREVOR NOAH, HOST, COMEDY CENTRAL, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH": That moment was so brutal on Joe Biden. For the first time, I wanted to give him a massage.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Joe Biden was right when he said it was time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans 32 years ago. He's still right today. If we're going to solve the issues of automation, pass the torch.

SETH MEYERS, HOST, NBC "LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS": Damn, you're bringing a Biden quote to take down Biden? Come one. If anyone's going to take down Joe Biden with a Joe Biden quote, it's Joe Biden.

The window for Marianne Williamson impressions might be closing fast.

KATE MCKINNON, CAST MEMBER, NBC "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE" (IMITATING MARIANNE WILLIAMSON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Um-hum. My plan is to gather all the sage in America and burn it. My plan is to harness the energy of babies to finally put a man on the moon.

And I said to the president of New Zealand -- I said, "Girlfriend, you're so odd." And I will say to Donald Trump, "Boyfriend, you chill."

Thank you.


BERMAN: Oh, that is the impression that America was demanding, I think.

CAMEROTA: Well, hold on a second. It's a funny impression.

However, Marianne Williamson is impressive. You can -- you can -- you can -- you can write her off as some sort of guru or spiritual kook or whatever, but she is impressive. She knew policy details. She spoke incredibly effectively, I thought.

And guess what? She was the most searched person during the debate --


CAMEROTA: -- last night. According to Google, she was the number person that people were most intrigued with. And that's not because that they thought that she was some sort of whacky spiritual guide, it's because they wanted to know more about here.

BERMAN: We don't know why they wanted to know more, but they wanted to know more.

CAMEROTA: I suspect it's because she had more substance.

BERMAN: And I was not -- I was only saying.