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U.S. Women's Soccer Team Invited to the White House; U.S. Women's Soccer Team Fighting for Pay Equality; Biden Apologizes for Segregationist Comments; Phone Missing in Spacey Case; Iran Increases Enrichment. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired July 8, 2019 - 06:30   ET



[06:33:46] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So at this moment, the World Cup champion U.S. soccer team is in the air on the way back to the United States.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: You're really monitoring every step of their way.

BERMAN: Because they're the coolest thing ever. Look, they're coming back. That much we know. Where they're going the next few days, now that is very much in question.

Joining us now, Jess McIntosh, CNN political commentator and former director of communications outreach for the Hillary Clinton campaign, Bakari Sellers, CNN commentator and former South Carolina house Democrat. We should also note, and this will come up in a little bit, that Bakari is supporting Kamala Harris for president. Also with us, John Avlon, CNN senior political analyst.

We have this august, political panel here to talk about soccer. Why? Because the U.S. soccer team is political. And I think proudly so. They're on their way back to the United States. Nancy Pelosi has invited them to Capitol Hill. What will the president do? He claims he hasn't even thought about whether he's inviting them to the White House. Listen.


QUESTION: Will you invite the women's team to the White House, the soccer team?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Haven't really thought about it. We will look at that, certainly.


BERMAN: So he either forgot or is confused about what he said two weeks ago --


BERMAN: When this whole feud with Megan Rapinoe began. He said I am now inviting the team, win or lose.

CAMEROTA: That was June 26th.

BERMAN: Yes, June 26th, I am now inviting the team, win or lose. He seems to have forgotten that completely, Jess, now saying I'm still deciding it.

[06:35:08] What happens now?

JESS MCINTOSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, see, I find -- one, obviously it's not believable that he's forgotten that he accidentally got into a major Twitter feud with a national champion. It was a very strange day that we all sat around yesterday really excited for our women, excited for this win on a global stage, and then we waited to see whether the president of the United States would insult them en masse or not. That is a very strange moment that I think we all need to mark as evidence that these are not normal times that we're living in.

I think, obviously, we're all really excited about them. They are amazing on and off the pitch. I'm glad that Nancy Pelosi reached out to them. I'm sure that they're going to be welcomed in Washington by everybody who lives there, even if not the guy at 1600.

CAMEROTA: Well, the reason, I think, that he's forgotten that he invited them is because after he invited them they said they wouldn't go. And so Ali Krieger was on our program and I think she followed Megan Rapinoe's lead. I asked her, would you go to the White House. Here was her explanation.


CAMEROTA: You would not go to the White House if invited?

ALI KRIEGER, U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM: No, absolutely not. I refuse to respect a man that warrants no respect.


CAMEROTA: And she's not alone. So Ali Krieger, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, among others, all have said that. But they said -- they told us that they would accept Congress' invitation, John.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and it shows just how polarized our politics are and how it's infected sport. I mean here's something that should be way beyond politics. This is an unprecedented championship by the women's team on an international stage. The president couldn't help getting in that kind of a feud. And the team has returned fire en masse.

I think you are going to see, unfortunately for the country, for any semblance of unity, Nancy Pelosi embraced them on Capitol Hill. And if the president invites them, you're going to see probably at least half the team give him the Heisman. And it is --

CAMEROTA: But then do the other half go? I mean -- I mean this is so unfortunate on every level because of course you'd love to go to the White House.


CAMEROTA: Of course you love -- that is a lifetime experience.


CAMEROTA: And so might some of them go?

AVLON: Might. Look, I -- there's no scientific polling I have read on who might attend and who might not.

I think what you see with this team is an enormous amount of solidarity. And I think what I am saying is, you know, it's hard to get respect if you don't get respect. And you see the president of the United States show contempt for people who have been critical of him. You know, he did finally tweet yesterday.


AVLON: But you've got the sort of shadow cabinet issue where Obama is cheering them on, on Twitter, and they're almost recognizing him as their, you know, spiritual president. He's not, in fact, the president of the United States right now. And Trump should -- Trump should (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: Look, just to be clear, the president did congratulate them --

AVLON: He did.

BERMAN: On Twitter four hours or so after the game, or a few hours. Congratulations to the U.S. women's soccer team on winning the World Cup! Great and exciting play. America is proud of you all!.

Again, I want to know if he remembers that he already invited them to the White House. To me, you know, the invitation is out there. It's on Twitter. It's his official means of communication.

AVLON: Just show up, folks.

BERMAN: All right, Bakari, 2020. Joe Biden.


BERMAN: You want in?

SELLERS: I don't get to talk about women's soccer?

CAMEROTA: All right, (INAUDIBLE) have to say.

BERMAN: Do it.


SELLERS: I just wanted to say that this is very political. That I hope that Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump use this as an opportunity to make sure women in this country get equal pay for equal work. This team means so much to this political initiative that should be bipartisan. They deserve equal pay for equal work. Women in this country do as well. And I hope that Donald Trump and the Republican Party utilize this team to galvanize political energy, stand up and do something, which they haven't done in a very long time in Washington, D.C., which is actually get legislation, which is needed in this country passed.

I think this team means much more than just kicking a soccer ball and being world champions on the pitch. I think this team can actually uplift women throughout the world, as you heard yesterday in that arena, and you see people chant, equal pay, equal pay. Pay these women what they're worth, which is what -- is just as much, if not more than men. And do that throughout the workplace, throughout the country.

Democrat or Republican, Donald Trump or Nancy Pelosi, it doesn't matter if you get a hug on Capitol Hill if you still go back and work for 60 cents on the dollar compared to men.


SELLERS: We need to actually do something to celebrate their victory, which is pass legislation. That -- that's my two cents.

BERMAN: And this is just the beginning, right? I mean their battle is very much just beginning. Megan Rapinoe made that point after the game. Excited to see what they say when they land here in the United States and what platform -- how they use this platform the next few weeks.

CAMEROTA: And how the federation could ever deny them equal pay at this point. If it's -- if you're paid on merit, they deserve more than the men.

BERMAN: Right. I mean the men didn't make the World Cup last time. The women just won it.


BERMAN: Jess, Joe Biden did something he really hasn't done --


BERMAN: Which is apologize. Let's hear it again. This is S1 (ph).


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Was I wrong a few weeks ago to somehow give the impression to people that I was praising those men who I successfully opposed time and again? Yes, I was. I regret it. And I'm sorry for any of the pain or misconception that it may have caused anybody.


[06:40:03] BERMAN: It's clear the former vice president is trying to reset things a little bit. We know it from reporting in Axios. We know it from our own interview Chris -- sitting down with Chris Cuomo. I mean clearly the vice president knows he needs to fix things.

MCINTOSH: I mean, obviously, he got his campaign off on several very wrong steps culminating with the debate performance with Kamala Harris. I was really gratified to see that he apologized. That is not a thing that Joe Biden is typically willing to do. And he's been really hurt by these -- these gaffes where he seems unwilling to say, I take some responsibility for this language, for this behavior. Instead, he seems to blame shifting norms. His first reaction to this was to demand oddly that Cory Booker apologize to him. So this is definitely many, many steps in the right direction for him. This is a very long primary process. I think he has plenty of time to course correct. This was, obviously, a good step in doing that.

CAMEROTA: Bakari, Kamala Harris, I just want to play her response to his apology because somehow this has become a feud between the two of them after the debate. So here's what she said about his apology this weekend.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, he says he's sorry. I'm going to take him at his word. But, again, that doesn't address the issue of busing in America. And the fact that he still -- you know, we have to -- we cannot rewrite history about what segregationists were doing at that time on a number of issues, including opposing busing.


CAMEROTA: She says this is about busing, but that's not on the top of anybody's -- any voters' list of what priority they want to be talking about right now. So is this over?

SELLERS: Yes, I think this is over. I mean I -- the question that she was asked specifically -- I was actually standing in the wings over there -- the question she was asked specifically was about this apology and busing. And I think that -- that this is over. I honestly don't want to see a bus or hear a bus for a long period of time. I'm kind of ready for the campaign to move on to other issues.

But I do think that what you're seeing is a contrast building between Senator Harris and Vice President Biden. I mean people want to talk about and go in and help have these candidates reconcile their record. The problem is that Joe Biden only wants to use Barack Obama as a shield for 40 years of service. Some of that service was detrimental and created pieces of legislation which were -- which were extremely bad. And Senator Harris is just building those contrasts.

So as we move past busing, you're going to see these contrasts be extremely clear.

BERMAN: John, you're going to say much more about busing a little bit later in the show, right?


BERMAN: Want to give us a quick preview?

AVLON: "Reality Check." Look, what we're looking at is just, what is busing? This hasn't been so debated and discussed in America in decades. And I think it's important to look at its effectiveness, how it was deeply polarizing, its intent, and its popularity at the time. So we'll take a look at that "Reality Check" later on.

CAMEROTA: Good. Good. We look forward to that.

All right.

BERMAN: All right.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much, guys.

BERMAN: Kevin Spacey could come face-to-face with his accuser in court today, but there's a key piece of evidence the prosecution does not have that could change the case. That's next.


[06:46:21] CAMEROTA: Actor Kevin Spacey has a pretrial hearing this morning where he could come face-to-face with his accuser. This as the legal teams argue over a missing cell phone.

CNN's Jean Casarez has more for us.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The stage is set for a courtroom showdown in the criminal sexual assault case against Kevin Spacey.

QUESTION: What do you think is on the cell phone?


CASAREZ: In pretrial hearings, the actor's attorneys accusing the alleged victim or his mother of deleting key text messages from a cell phone and demanding the phone be turned over for examination.

ALAN JACKSON, ATTORNEY FOR KEVIN SPACEY: Are you kidding? Heather Unruh took it upon herself to physically remove exculpatory information from the phone before she handed it to the government.

CASAREZ: The text messages are from an alleged 2016 incident in which the accuser says Spacey groped him at a restaurant in Nantucket after buying the then-18-year-old several drinks. Spacey has pleaded not guilty to a charge of indecent assault and battery. Screenshots of the messages appear to begin mid conversation. The accuser texting his girlfriend, he got my number and asked me to come out with him. He pulled my zipper down. Jesus Christ, he reached down my pants. He also repeatedly asked for help.

However, Spacey's attorneys argue that the deleted messages could be favorable to the defense. JACKSON: Those screen shots specifically had information missing. They

were one sided conversations. Not the concomitant other side of the responses to those conversations. They never sought to find those.

CASAREZ: The judge's deadline for turning over the cellphone is today. The accuser and his family claim they can't find it and don't remember getting it back from the police. Despite police saying they gave the phone to the accuser's father. An attorney for the family told CNN, no comment, when asked about the missing text messages.

HEATHER UNRUH, MOTHER OF ALLEGED VICTIM: Actor Kevin Spacey sexually assaulted my son.

CASAREZ: The accuser's mother, a former local news anchor, held a press conference shortly after her son reported it all to police, more than a year after the alleged incident occurred.

UNRUH: Kevin Spacey bought him drink after drink after drink. And when my son was drunk, Spacey made his move and sexually assaulted him. And I want to make it clear, this was a criminal act.

CASAREZ: Spacey has been accused of sexual assault by one other man and predatory behavior by several others, including actor Anthony Rapp, who says Spacey made advances towards him when he was 14-years- old. Spacey publicly apologized in that case.


CASAREZ: The hearing begins in just a couple of hours. Now, this is the height of the tourist season here on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts. But to Kevin Spacey, this is extremely serious. He is facing up to five years in prison.


BERMAN: All right, Jean, we'll be watching that hearing very closely today. Thank you for being there for us.

We do have breaking news.

Just moments ago, Iran announced it has broken a key tenant of the nuclear deal. So how will the U.S. respond? We have new developments, next.


[06:52:58] CAMEROTA: We do have breaking news right now.

Iran announcing it is enriching uranium at a higher level than the level set by the 2015 nuclear deal. Tehran is also demanding the release of an Iranian oil tanker seized by royal marines.

CNN's Nic Robertson is live in Gibraltar for us.



Well, that is the oil tanker under question. I don't know if you can see, just to the side of it there, that's a British naval vessel patrolling it. The Iranians are calling it piracy that the British interdicted this vessel that was on its way to Syria to an oil refinery that's under E.U. sanctions. Iran actually believes the United States asked Britain to capture this vessel because it's containing Iranian oil.

Iran demands its immediate release. And that, as you say, another tension on the top of Iran now breaking through what it says is the 4.5 percent threshold enrichment of uranium. That, of course, above the 3.67 percent that was allowed in that joint nuclear deal that the United States pulled out of last year.

Iran has now broken through two of the limits within that deal. The European Union is asking it to get back into line. Russia is saying that it will maintain talks. China saying it's disappointed that Iran has taken this move.

But it is all ratcheting up the tensions. And Iran says in 60 days' time it may further enrich its uranium, further increase its radioactivity with still some distance from Iran having a short pathway to a bomb, it would have to have about 90 percent enriched uranium to do that. But every step is heading in that direction.


BERMAN: This is a key step with that major announcement this morning.

Nic Robertson for us off the coast of Gibraltar, thank you very much.

Joining me now, David Sanger, national security correspondent for "The New York Times," and CNN political and national security analyst.

David, Mike Pompeo, in November, when asked directly if he thought that Iran would restart its nuclear program said no. But this morning, Iran says, yes, they are enriching past the 3.67 percent barrier. They're at 4.5 percent. So what did the administration miss? How did they get it wrong?

[06:55:13] DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: No, I think what they guessed, John, was that the Iranians would simply look at this rising level of sanctions and that they would fold. And the Iranians have made it pretty clear right now that not only are they not folding, they're not negotiating, they say, until the administration gets back into the previous agreement, the one that President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry negotiated and the one, of course, that President Trump rejected.

So the Iranians, at this point, are playing this very calculated game where they are doing very modest increases in enrichment, in the production of the volume of material that takes it just over the limits in the agreement. And what they're saying is, we're not racing for a bomb, but we're also not going to comply with the agreement if the United States won't. And they're betting that the U.S. will not take military action and they're betting the Europeans will stick with them.

BERMAN: We'll get to that in just a second.

On the subject of folding, you know, the Iranians certainly haven't folded. Just look at what they've done in the last month alone. They've shot down that U.S. drone. The Iranian-backed Houthis, they've shot missiles at an airport in Saudi Arabia. Iran's military is believed to be behind the attacks of the two takers in the Gulf of Oman. And then these breaches of the nuclear agreement. Does this put the world, David, in your mind, back where it was in 2013, 2014 before the -- the whole nuclear deal even came into effect?

SANGER: It comes close. Certainly the atmosphere is particularly toxic right now and I think that the conflict over the tanker, the lipid (ph) minds that were placed on other tankers that were going out, which we still assume were Iranian developed attacks, all of those suggest that there's a spirit of escalation that's here.

On the nuclear side, we're actually in better shape than we were in 2013 and 2014. Why is that? Because under the nuclear deal, under that 2015 deal, the Iranians shipped about 97 percent, 98 percent of their fuel stockpile out of the country. So they don't have access to that. And they're running many fewer centrifuges -- they had to dismantle so many -- that it would take them a long time to build back up.

So in an odd way, the man who has given President Trump some more running room here to come up with a solution is Barack Obama.

BERMAN: David, to a large extent, the entity that might have the most sway on what happens next is the European Union. The Europeans. Which side will they take here? Will they give sanctions relief to Iran? Will they side with the U.S. here? Where are they headed? What are the betting on?

SANGER: Well, I think what they're betting right now is that they can get a negotiation going without having to go impose the sanctions snapback procedures that are in the Iranian deal. They desperately want to keep the deal together and they largely blame President Trump for violating it first. They believe, when you talk to European diplomats, we wouldn't be in this situation if the United States had not left this deal. That said, they couldn't stand by if the Iranians really took the enrichment up to a high level.

Now, you heard Nic, in his report there, say that they'd have to get to 90 percent enrichment in order to build a bomb. But even if they get up to 20 percent, which is the highest we've known that they've ever gone, I think that would probably raise concerns among the Europeans that it's a pretty short run to get to bomb grade material. So, for now, the Europeans say to me, they are not planning to go impose any sanctions. They think that countries that have a lot of trade -- continuing trade with Iran, like Italy, would never go along. But they make in promises about what would happen if the Iranians continue to escalate.

BERMAN: They're betting on time. It's not clear this morning how much time anyone really has here. SANGER: That's right.

BERMAN: David Sanger, terrific reporting. Thanks so much for being with us.

SANGER: Thank you.

BERMAN: So, the U.S. soccer team, they're not done yet. Yes, they won the World Cup, but they're looking for their next big win off the field.

NEW DAY continues right now.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm sorry for any of the pain or misconception they may have caused anybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two weeks ago he said he wouldn't apologize. Check the polls and find out where you really stand. He's changed a lot in two weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His life-long record of standing up and fighting for civil rights is what he should be judged on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president suggesting that he would allow the press to visit these facilities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Inadequate food, inadequate water, and unclean cells. Those -- none of those have been substantiated.

[07:00:03] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What world are they living in?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From every direction, you see that the children are being treated in a -- in a horrific manner.