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Massive Protests In Puerto Rico After Governor Refuses To Resign; Lawmakers To Challenge Robert Mueller This Week; Trump Says Report Of Iran Capturing CIA Spies Totally False; Retired Justice Stevens Lies In Repose At Supreme Court. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired July 22, 2019 - 10:00   ET

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


[10:00:00]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: A very good Monday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: And I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.

So right now, thousands are filling the streets of San Juan. They are protesting the Governor of Puerto Rico, calling for Ricardo Rossello to resign. He is digging in, defiant, refusing to step down. He has vowed to not run for another term, but that's enough for these thousands Jim, who have clearly taken to the street to get him out.

SCIUTTO: Yes. It's a remarkable scene from the air there. They want him out after the leak of private messages between the Governor and his inner circle. Those messages filled with vulgar, homophobic language, as well as their broader concerns about the economic situation there.

Leyla Santiago, she's been on the ground there covering these protests. And, Leyla, I'm wondering if you could give a sense to folks as to how widespread these protests are now and what people are saying to you as to why they're coming out into the streets.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure. We are on a major highway. This is the away into San Juan and the way south. And I want to show you what some of the protesters have just done. They are individually spelling out Ricky, renuncia, translation, Ricky, resign, Ricky for Ricardo Rossello, the Governor of Puerto Rico. So many people have been telling me this is about respect, this is about dignity. They have had enough.

I'm actually going to see if I can talk to one of them. Lisa (ph), I'm going to actually try to talk to one of them to see if we can hear in their own words, why are you here today?

LISA: We are here to protest the injustice that this government has thrown upon us and we're here to overthrow Ricky Rossello and ask him to resign.

SANTIAGO: What does this mean specifically to you though?

LISA: Well, it means disrespect towards my children, towards my family, towards my elders, towards ancestors, towards our trust. Although we personally didn't vote for him, we thought he could do something, and he just didn't do anything. And we cannot restore that trust in him because the damage has been done.

SANTIAGO: Is there anything he can do to stop these protests beyond resigning?

LISA: Well, let me ask you this question. If you had a daughter who went out -- who was married to someone who constantly abused her, would you forgive him? And this is the same situation. There's just things in life that you cannot forgive. And this is a situation, this is one of them that the people -- and the people around the world know that this is the situation, we just cannot forgive.

SANTIAGO: Lisa, thank you so much. I appreciate hearing your thoughts. You can hear the pots and the pans banging. That is part of the protest today.

I want to show you behind me how the streets have been sort of taken over by the people here. These roads are now blocked. They will not be able to have business running around here, to have any sort of transportation. And you can see it does not really take that much to get these folks to continue to demand.

Let me read some of these for you. Ricky, renuncia, that means, Ricky, resign, demonstrate to your children that you are a better father than you are a governor. That is the translation of one of them.

A lot of flags out here today showing their patriotism and sense of unity here today. Again, we have the trucks in the background, maybe hard to see, but in one lane, we have trucks blocking the road. There are cyclists here. There are older people, younger people.

Right now, an ambulance is actually coming by and you can hear people cheering, essentially, as they continue to call for the resignation of the Governor, saying this goes beyond some leaked chats. This is about getting rid of corruption for them.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

HARLOW: Leyla, phenomenal reporting on the ground, bringing it all to life. Thank you so, so much.

Our colleague, Nick Paton Walsh, is also there. He just spoke with the Mayor of San Juan, Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz. Obviously, Jim, she was a target of some really vile words from the Governor in these leaked messages. So let's listen to what the Mayor of San Juan told Nick.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a democracy. Why is this opposition movement so special that it doesn't have to wait for an election?

MAYOR CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: Because the crimes committed by the Governor are so horrendous that it cannot wait.

WALSH: So it's impeachment or it's just --

CRUZ: It is impeachment. It is impeachment time. He's obstinate. His mental health isn't there, He doesn't want to resign. It's impeachment time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Wow, Jim, I mean, to watch them going through this.

[10:05:02]

Okay, we'll stay on that.

This week back here in the Nation's Capitol, everyone is going to be watching democrats and republicans as they question the Special Counsel. They hope that he will do what his report did not, convince a majority of Americans that the President should be impeached.

SCIUTTO: Well, you may remember the President initially welcomed the report, praised Mueller when it came out when he perceived that it exonerated him. But now, different tune, he does not want the Special Counsel to testify. He Tweeted this morning, highly conflicted Robert Mueller should not be given another bite at the apple. The President followed up with some familiar criticisms. He called the probe a witch hunt that found no collusion.

CNN Congressional Reporter Lauren Fox live on Capitol Hill. Given that, given the President's opposition, but more importantly the fact that most Americans have not read the Special Counsel's report, reads like legal ease probably to most of them, what are democrats' hopes from Bob Mueller when takes the stand?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, all the preparation, all the work that has gone into getting Robert Mueller here on Wednesday, as well as all the work that's going on behind the scenes is really aimed at bringing that he more than 400-page report to life. You know, democrats want to highlight what is in this report.

They argue that perhaps for some Americans who didn't have time to read it, some of this information might be new and it might sound differently coming from Robert Mueller than it does from democrats, who clearly have a political agenda at hand.

You know, if Robert Mueller is seen across the country as somebody who is non-partisan, who is someone who is objective and can be trusted, if he is talking about what's in the report, even if that's all he does, perhaps that changes the narrative for impeachment. And that's really the big question here.

If you remember last week, democrats overwhelmingly voted to block moving forward with that impeachment resolution from Al Green. Many democrats arguing it wasn't the right time. Nancy Pelosi, of course, doesn't want to deal with the impeachment question. But top democrats say perhaps something changes after Wednesday.

And Jerry Nadler, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, sort of pointed at that over the weekend, arguing that, you know, he believes that there are some things in the Mueller report that could rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors, which is, of course, that point for which you would move forward with impeachment.

So that's all what is happening behind the scenes as democrats and republicans are preparing in a big way, having mock hearings, trying to prepare scripted questions. But this is a big moment for democrats, in part because they need this to change the narrative. If it doesn't, it's hard to say exactly what will. Jim and Poppy?

SCIUTTO: Right, and ask legitimate questions to ask the Special Counsel, unanswered questions from that report. Lauren Fox on the Hill. Thanks very much.

Our special coverage of the Mueller hearings will begin on Wednesday morning starting at 8:00 Eastern Time only here on CNN.

HARLOW: All right. Let's talk to someone who will be questioning the Special Counsel, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, is with me now. He's a democrat from Illinois. So thank you very much for joining us. Obviously, you sit on the Oversight and the Intel Committee, so a busy week for you.

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): It is, good morning, Poppy.

HARLOW: So you have said that you expect a Super Bowl-sized audience to watch these hearings. We'll see. That would be a lot. But the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, said over the weekend there's, quote, very substantial evidence that the President is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, obviously a bar there for impeachment. You have been in the Pelosi camp of holding off on beginning impeachment proceedings. Do you agree with those words from Jerry Nadler?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Yes, there's evidence. I think that a lot of people are going to pay attention to what Bob Mueller says about that evidence, as well as a number of issues.

I just want to point out, you know, in the Intelligence Committee, which is what I sit on, we're going to be talking about volume one, which is about Russian interference in our democracy. And it's startling what actually happened. It's not -- it's not trivial what occurred in 2016. The Trump campaign, through its foreign policy adviser, knew what was about to happen in terms of Russian interference. They welcomed it. They exploited the product of that interference. They had numerous interactions with the Russians in 2016 and then they proceeded to cover up those interactions.

So even though it may not have risen to criminal conspiratorial activity, it was deeply unpatriotic, and that's important to talk about and hear from Mr. Mueller about.

HARLOW: Is deeply unpatriotic enough to move forward with impeachment proceedings, in your mind?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I don't know. I want to hear what Mr. Mueller has to say about all of this. I think people are going to pay very close attention to what he says. And his special stature and credibility make it more likely than not that a large audience is going to be listening very carefully.

[10:10:04]

HARLOW: Okay. So given that question for you whether or not this rises to the level of impeachment, I wonder what you think about the sentiment of the American people. There's new polling out from earlier this month, NBC/Wall Street Journal, and here's what it shows us, that the vast majority of Americans do not believe that, at this point, Congress should move forward with impeachment proceedings. Let's pull it up. It's only 21 percent, and it's actually seen a decline. It has dropped. Those numbers pushing for impeachment among Americans has dropped from June to July.

You have held back, but more than 90 of your fellow democrats in the House have said, yes, impeach now, move forward with impeachment now. Do you think that they are not congressmen listening to the will of the majority of the American people?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: No. I think that people are trying to digest the report and do what they believe is right and what their constituents would want them to do. Poppy, I think that most Americans, the vast majority, have not read the report. I have and I'm re-reading sections of it right now. I think that on Wednesday, I think people are going to be consuming the report through Bob Mueller for the first time.

You know, a lot more people watched the movie, Godfather, than actually read the book. And I think in his particular instance, a lot more people are going to be knowledgeable about the report after the hearing than were before.

HARLOW: That's probably true that they'll be more knowledgeable, right, because it will be a little more digestible than reading 448 pages, which I'm glad you read it, and I'm glad you're re-reading sections, because not all members of Congress have read it. But if those numbers that I just showed you, Congressman, don't significantly increase post-Mueller, two, three weeks out, right, from Wednesday, then what would your advice be to your democratic colleagues in the House in terms of whether to move forward with impeachment? Meaning if they don't move and a majority of the American public is not behind impeachment, should democrats still begin impeachment hearings?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, I think that we have to continue with the investigations.

HARLOW: But, sir, just a yes or no on that. I mean, that's really -- I guess I'm trying to get at the heart of it. Should democrats move forward with impeachment if you don't have a majority of the American public behind you?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, I think that if we cannot have the majority of the American people or if we can't sustain a conviction in the Senate, then I would be inclined against moving forward, because at the end of the day, we don't want a situation where we start something that we can't finish and then it emboldens the President to engage in further such behavior and he can really claim exoneration.

But I just want to point out one thing, Poppy, which is that I think that even after this, we have to continue with our oversight and investigations even after the Bob Mueller hearing, whether it's getting into the counterintelligence aspects of the links between Trump officials and Russia, or getting into the money laundering and other issues to prevent them from happening again.

HARLOW: Finally, on this issue, The Washington Post is reporting that, again, Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler has privately supported impeachment against the President. That would be big if that's true, because he has been very reluctant to do so, as has Nancy Pelosi. Is that the private sentiment that you've heard as well?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: You mean with regard to Mr. Nadler?

HARLOW: That's right.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I don't know. I honestly haven't had that conversation with Chairman Nadler.

HARLOW: Okay. Obviously, you're not on judiciary, you're on intel. But I was wondering if you had heard any of what The Post is reporting on that. Thanks again for your time on such a busy week for you and your colleagues. I appreciate it.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you so much, Poppy.

HARLOW: Jim?

SCIUTTO: Well, Poppy, you asked him the direct question there, you know, should Congress impeach without the support of the public. That's really the looming one.

HARLOW: And he said no. Yes, he said no.

SCIUTTO: There you go. Others may disagree. We'll watch how it develops.

Other stories we're watching this hour, the President pushing back on reports that Iran has now captured 17 of its citizens and accused them of spying for the U.S. How could this impact the growing tension in the region? Some of those people now face the death penalty in Iran.

Plus, the President is renewing his attacks on four democratic congresswomen of color despite days of backlash. Are we seeing a preview of an intentional 2020 re-election strategy? We're going to speak to a senior adviser for the President's re-election campaign. HARLOW: And right now, people paying their respects to the late Supreme Court Justice, John Paul Stevens. Ahead, we'll take a look at his life and his legacy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:15:00]

HARLOW: President Trump says there is zero truth to Iran's claim this morning that it has detained 17 spies working for the CIA.

SCIUTTO: Well, Iran claims that the 17 are all Iranian citizens but were trained by the CIA, and that some now have been executed. In a Tweet this morning, the President called the report, quote, more lies and propaganda.

[10:20:01]

CNN's Matthew Chance joins us now.

Matthew, Iran will frequently make claims of U.S. spies on the ground there. We know, of course, that Iran is a major intelligence target of the U.S. Do we have anything to corroborate Iran's claims here to view them as credible?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not really in terms of kind of corroboration that we would be looking for as evidence. Well, what I can tell you is that Iranian State media is using this announcement that has been made by the Iranian government that they've essentially broken up this CIA spy ring as evidence that, you know, it's the United States that's the maligned player in this region, that it is attacking, if you like, the Islamic Republic, and it's not Iran that is being provocative in this escalating series of tensions between the two countries. And that undoubtedly sits pretty well amongst very many Iranians that are themselves deeply suspicious of the intentions of the United States.

Now, what we know about what's been announced is that these 17 individuals that were Iranian citizens, the Iranian government says that they were recruited individually and didn't know each other and didn't operate together as a sort of group of sort of spies, if you will. They were offered payments, according to the Iranian authorities. Some of them were offered residency rights in the United States. Some of them were offered jobs in the U.S.

But the U.S. Secretary of State, as we've been hearing, has been pouring water on this whole suggestion by Iran. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I would urge everyone who is reading that story waking up to understand that the Iranian regime has a long history of lying. They lied about where they shut down the American UAV. They've now lied in the last few days about where they took down this tanker. It's part of the nature of the ayatollah to lie to the world. I would take with a significant grain of salt any Iranian assertion about actions that they've taken.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHANCE: Whether true or not, it certainly adds to that sense of growing tension that's been developing over the past several months between the United States and Iran. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Matthew Chance there on the Persian Gulf. Thanks very much.

Massive protests under way in Puerto Rico now. Let's get right to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh in San Juan. You've been on the ground there, Nick, you've had the opportunity to speak to the Mayor as well of San Juan. Tell us what you're seeing and hearing.

WALSH: This protest was where they're going to get the numbers. Well, I can show you here from our vantage, quite extraordinary how this crowd, peaceful, got to be in the hundreds of thousands, stretches all the way down the expressway here towards San Juan, a quite extraordinary turnout here, united in one singular thing. Now, this is a historic moment for this island. But the request is simple and united, and it is Governor Ricky, as they call them, Ricardo Rossello, must leave power immediately.

Now, he did not take the request last night at 5:00, releasing on Facebook a statement, saying he wouldn't seek an election again to win, that he'll almost certainly going to lose. And so much of that sort of through petrol, if you like, gas onto the fire here, causing more and more people to come out into the streets. And here, they march in a loop down the expressway (INAUDIBLE) again here.

I'm going to have our cameraman, Jose Amigo (ph), just pan across the crowds here for you so you can get an idea of the kind of -- forgive any profanity you may see in some of the signs, but the protesters say they're actually just mimicking the language that the Governor and his inner circle, mostly male, used on the chat group on Telegram, 899 pages of which were leaked to a local media outlet here, and that really started all of this fury.

But it's built on decades of anger of political mismanagement and corruption, they say. The Governor Rossello defends as he's trying to get the confidence of people back. But just look at the crowd here, an extraordinary message. Will it flip a switch inside the Governor's mansion? We'll have to wait and see. Jim, Poppy?

HARLOW: It is remarkable to see just the sea of people there. Nick, your reporting has been fantastic, you along with Leyla. Thank you so much for being there.

Also this morning in the Nation's Capitol, hundreds of Americans are going to pay their respects to the late Supreme Court Justice, John Paul Stevens, as he lies in repose there. Hundreds of his former clerks lined the steps as his casket made its way earlier this morning into the building.

We will speak with one of his former law clerks next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:25:00]

SCIUTTO: This is happening live now. Inside the great hall of the Supreme Court, lying there in state, retired Justice John Paul Stevens, people having an opportunity to pay their respects.

HARLOW: Yes. What an incredible life and remarkable career. He served this country on the high court for nearly 35 years. He died last week at the age of 99. And this morning, just a little earlier, as you saw on the broadcast, dozens of his former clerks lined the stairs of the Supreme Court and served as honorary pallbearers.

[10:30:03]

And one of them is with us now, her name Anne Voigts. She is a former clerk. 100 former clerks.