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Rapper ASAP Rocky Charged With Assault, Faces Trial In Sweden; Democrats Debate Next Steps After Hearings; GOP Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) Mississippi Blocks Election Security Bills; North Korea Fires Two Short-Range Missiles; Trump Vetoes Joint Resolutions Prohibiting Arms Sales To Saudi Arabia And United Arab Emirates. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired July 25, 2019 - 10:00   ET

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


SLOBODAN JOVICIC, A$AP ROCKY'S ATTORNEY: -- and the Swedish laws for our client.

[10:00:01]

So he was not surprised or, in any way, disappointed on that. I mean, he was disappointed last Friday when the court, in spite of all the evidence and good argumentation, let him stay in his cell.

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MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The lawyer says he's trying to stay in good spirits. He's answering the many letters he's been receiving while he's in jail. But he's going to be in detention for a little while longer and crucially, probably, could face up to two years in jail.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Wow. Okay, important. Melissa Bell, keep us posted as that trial kicks off on Tuesday. We appreciate it.

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

HARLOW: And I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.

Post-Mueller pressure, some democrats worry the clock is ticking, time is running out on impeachment. The Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, says now still is not the right time. She's not saying her colleagues pushing for impeachment are wrong though. Listen to this.

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MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Speaker Pelosi, are you going to discourage your members at all from announcing their support for an impeachment inquiry?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I never have done that. I never have done that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCIUTTO: While the party grapples with the question of impeachment, it is pushing forward with legal battles to obtain key information in their broad investigations. Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.

So, Manu, we know, despite her answer to the question there, that Nancy Pelosi has pushed back against this growing minority within her party to begin impeachment proceedings. I wonder, speaking to members yesterday and today, does she have more of an upper hand now pushing back on that?

RAJU: Well, I think there's a growing push for her to change from her opposition. And she's signaling that she's still not ready to go there. But her messaging has not been as consistent as it has been in the past where she's been dead set against moving forward. She's signaling some openness.

Now, whether that actually leads to anything that leads to a formal impeachment proceeding is an altogether different question. But she is not saying any more that it's the republican-led Senate that will kill moving forward convicting the President and removing him from office. So there's no reason to move forward. She's saying instead, let's figure out what we get from the courts and then decide what we need to do.

So a lot of members are taking from those comments that perhaps she's a bit more open than she was before. But at the same time, she just told me on her way into this caucus meeting was that these members, if they want to announce their support for an impeachment inquiry, they can. She just told that to her members behind closed doors, I'm told.

But still some members are concerned, Jim and Poppy, that time is running out. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Is the Speaker wrong in her approach here?

REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D-TX): Well, I want to encourage her to expedite this matter more than has been done in the past.

RAJU: What's the risk if you don't move forward now?

REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA): The risk is that we have abandoned our responsibility. The risk is ours.

RAJU: You have not supported an impeachment inquiry before, right? Did yesterday change you in any way?

REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): No. I think it was an important step forward, but it didn't change me. I mean, because my basic point is that we have multiple committees doing various aspects of oversight and investigation and I think that we need to get further down the line. And I also think that all of our leaders need to be on the same page.

(END VIDEO CLIP) RAJU: So all the leaders are not on the same page. Jerry Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, who has privately advocated for an impeachment inquiry last night at a caucus meeting, I'm told he raised the prospect of drafting articles of impeachment via (ph) the six committees that are all investigating the President. That's an idea he just floated. But the Speaker at the moment not ready to go down that route, wants to fight this in court first instead. Guys?

HARLOW: That was fascinating, Manu, hearing from those three lawmakers in the same party with very different stances on this. Thank you. Jim?

SCIUTTO: It's a real division.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Let's speak to CNN White House Correspondent Abby Phillip. What is the White House saying this morning? The President, at least in public, taking somewhat of a victory lap, that despite the substance of many of the things that Robert Mueller reiterated yesterday in his testimony.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jim and Poppy. Here at the White House, President Trump and his aides and allies are really celebrating what happened yesterday. They are celebrating it not just because they believed that Robert Mueller was not stylistically as effective as they had expected, but they also did not think that it moved the ball forward providing new information that would advance the democrats' efforts to decide whether or not they want to impeach him.

I think President Trump is celebrating what he called on Twitter the Democratic Party being in disarray as a result of this hearing. And all of this is a turn of events for President Trump, who started the day yesterday irritated that Robert Mueller was once again going to be in the spotlight.

[10:05:01]

He ended it somewhat elated, going out to the cameras, talking to reporters, White House aides even previewing for reporters as they waited for the President that he was in a good mood and was likely to talk. And for a lengthy period of time, he took a number of questions.

He also attacked Robert Mueller saying that he failed as a prosecutor in this case, and also failed on the witness -- at the witness table yesterday on Capitol Hill.

The President also latching on to one key part of the hearing saying that he did not believe that Robert Mueller had the ability or the right to exonerate him. This is a change for him after months and months saying that the report, the Mueller report exonerated him on both collusion and obstruction. Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I mean, he also said that WikiLeaks is a hoax, even though Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, has referred to it as an arm, an intelligence arm of Russian intelligence. Abby Phillip, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Let's talk about this. Susan Hennessey is with us, former NSA Attorney. Susan Page is with us, USA -- Washington Bureau Chief for USA Today, and Jon Sale, former Assistant Special Watergate prosecutor. Good morning, one and all.

Susan Page, you put it bluntly in your piece this morning, impeaching the President just got less likely. So now what for democrats? Now what?

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, USA TODAY: Right. So I think that the chances of impeachment, it's a more distant prospect. I think you heard Adam Schiff on your own air this morning talking about the route for democrats to get President Trump out of the White House is now through the 2020 election.

The hearing, despite some of the important disclosures yesterday in the hearing, it was not the galvanizing event, the momentum for impeachment that some democrats had hoped. We saw just one democratic member in the aftermath of the hearing announce her support for impeachment. They need another two dozen to join in to get a majority of the democratic caucus.

SCIUTTO: Jon Sale, you were, of course, involved in the Watergate, another thing that people may forget. But it was a very partisan issue at the time, the President's supporters seeing things very differently right up until the end, then the President's detractors.

Let's remember what Bob Mueller said yesterday, not the way he said it. And here's just a list of some of the things.

He said that Trump welcomed Russia interference and lied about it. He said that, generally, Trump's written answers to the Special Counsel were not truthful. He said that his encouraging of WikiLeaks problematic, in fact, he said the word problematic was an understatement. He said and reiterated Trump not exonerated over obstruction. He said that accepting foreign help, because of the President's public comments, now may be the new normal. He also contradicted the President on whether he was seeking the FBI Director's job.

I just wonder based on your own experience, can the substance of what the Special Counsel said break through the partisan interpretation of it?

JON SALE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, Chairman Nadler said yesterday that it was a watershed day and I don't agree. Going back to Watergate when it was -- when Alexander Butterfield said, hey, there are tapes of everybody who went into the Oval Office. That got everybody's attention. That was a watershed day.

In terms of impeachment, what worked -- what caused President Nixon ultimately to resign was two things, public opinion and the support of the republican leadership, which turned against him. Neither of those exists now for impeachment.

HARLOW: Right, there is no Howard Baker, right? I mean that's the --

SALE: Or Hugh Scott or Barry Goldwater.

HARLOW: Yes, right. And also, you know, what the courts are going to do here, Susan Hennessey, becomes a question, right? Because that decision is what Pelosi seems to be saying this morning may move her to impeachment. If they don't get McGahn through the courts, for example, and the others through the courts, then she is saying we essentially may have no choice. But how likely do you think that is and how protracted could that court battle be?

SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: Certainly the battle of sort of getting Don McGahn's testimony could be quite difficult. I do think that Congress ultimately has the stronger argument.

It's a little bit puzzling why they're sort of going after McGahn's testimony first. He's arguably the most difficult person to get. Subpoenaing someone like Corey Lewandowski, somebody like Donald Trump Jr., somebody who had never actually been in -- never had worked in the White House, never had been in the government and therefore couldn't assert those privileges, that's going to be a stronger sort of hand to play first.

And so I do think that this sort of argument has a little bit of the appearance of Nancy Pelosi attempting to kick he can down the road once again. When the report first came out, it was, well, we need the full unredacted version. Now that we've had Mueller's testimony, it's, well, we now need to litigate this in court.

And so I do disagree a little bit with some of the panelists. I actually don't think that the public opinion and the galvanization of the public opinion is the significant thing that we should have been looking for yesterday. Instead, what we saw yesterday was the performance of Congress, of House Democrats actually doing the work to start to establish a foundational congressional record. That did seem to me like a majority that was prepared to start engaging in sustained oversight.

[10:10:02]

SCIUTTO: That's a good point. You had to follow closely. Member by member, they were building what sounded like an opening argument in an impeachment proceeding on each issue, each sign that Mueller cited of possible obstruction of justice and the standard for it.

Susan page, one thing that got buried in this is Bob Mueller saying in no uncertain terms that Russia is interfering in U.S. democracy today and will do so in 2020. There's no outrage today. The President is not talking about it. Republican lawmakers yesterday wouldn't even vote on a bill sponsored by democrats to require campaigns to alert the FBI if they were offered foreign assistance. Why is that?

PAGE: You know, when Robert Mueller was at his most eloquent and his most energized in the afternoon hearings when he talked about the continuing threat to our democracy from interference, not just by Russians. He called this an example that other nations are also following, other foes of American democracy. And yet remarkable that the President didn't respond to that, as he mostly hasn't in the past two-and-a-half years. And that it doesn't seem to capture the attention.

There's so much focus on President Trump, whether he cooperated with Russian efforts, interference, whether he tried to obstruct justice. This other element that may be more important over the long haul, I agree, just hasn't gotten the kind of attention that you would hope it would.

HARLOW: I mean, what do you make of the fact, Susan Hennessey, that there was just like almost no questions about Russian interference, that it was Will Hurd in seven hours that asked this? I mean, I guess -- and the stark warning that came from Mueller in response, what does that tell you?

HENNESSEY: There was certainly more of a focus sort of volume one in that hearing. That's certainly not surprising, you know. But, again, I think it was just yesterday that republicans killed multiple election security bills. We haven't seen focus on this. It's not just Robert Mueller who is raising the alarm. The DNI, Dan Coates, members of Donald Trump's own administration, they're really coming out in the strongest possible terms.

I think if we return back to Adam Schiff's sort of closing statement yesterday when he said, you know, we're talking about disloyalty to the United States, that it does, all roads do eventually lead to Trump here. Because it's not just the question about his willingness to accept and encourage foreign help in the 2016 election, it's also about his sort of dereliction of duty and the oath of his office in preventing that moving forward.

And one of the reasons, the principle reason why we haven't seen more focus of what should be a bipartisan issue in Congress is because the President doesn't view it as a bipartisan issue. He views any attempts to actually safeguard U.S. elections as essentially undercutting the legitimacy of his presidential administration.

SCIUTTO: Well, everyone in every intelligence agency, the Defense Department, U.S. diplomats see this as not a political issue, as a threat to U.S. democracy. It doesn't rise to that level here in Washington.

Susan Hennessey, Susan Page, Jon Sale, thanks very much.

Still to come, North Korea fires two missiles. It is the first launch since President Trump met with Kim Jong-un in the demilitarized zone, their third face-to-face meeting.

HARLOW: Right. And a manhunt right now is underway in Canada for two teenagers accused of killing three people, including an American woman. The father of one of those suspects is speaking out.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's going to be dead today or tomorrow. I know that.

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HARLOW: Wow.

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[10:15:00]

SCIUTTO: Attempts to ramp up election security were blocked in the GOP-controlled Senate despite stark warnings from Robert Mueller that Russia is trying to interfere in U.S. democracy as we speak. Even after Mueller testified about Russia's involvement in 2016 and its attempts to interfere in future elections, Mississippi Republican Senator Cindy Hyde Smith blocked three different election security bills from unanimous consent. That means they can't be voted on. Two of those bills would have required campaigns to report any attempts by foreign entities to interfere in U.S. elections to federal authorities.

I'm joined now by Wyoming Republican Senator John Barrasso. Senator, we appreciate you taking the time today.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): Thanks for having me.

SCIUTTO: So on the same day that Bob Mueller warned that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election, in his words as we sit here, and his concern that he fears that accepting foreign help in U.S. elections has become the new normal, the Senate blocked to bills, including one which would have required reporting such offers of foreign help to the FBI. In the simplest terms, why?

BARRASSO: Well, we passed two bills on election security last week, which are now in the House. But it's not just about passing bills. It's about actually making sure that the ballots are secured. We had a bipartisan meeting of all of the senators with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI to make sure that all of our states have the resources that they need to protect the integrity of the election in 2020.

We know Russia was involved --

SCIUTTO: Should campaigns accept foreign help?

BARRASSO: No, we know the Russians have --

[10:20:01]

SCIUTTO: So why not make that the law?

BARRASSO: Well, as you know, democrats as part of the Mueller hearings yesterday came to the Senate last night with this proposal after many people had left and said let's do this unanimously while no one is here. I mean, it was a charade, and you know it, and the viewers know it. We need election integrity --

SCIUTTO: They've tried to pass legislation like this before and the Senate Majority Leader has blocked it. Why isn't it a no-brainer?

BARRASSO: It is a no-brainer that we want to continue with the integrity of the ballots. Russia will continue to try to get involved, engaged. We were able to stop them in 2018. I think they're going to try to ramp up in 2020. We have $380 million deployed to the states, people from Homeland Security working at the state level. We all know that passing legislation is never enough. Getting results is important.

And it's not just Russia. It's also China, it's also Iran and it's also North Korea. And they're not just attacking the United States. They're going after balloting around the world, in England, in Germany, in France. All of those areas have been targets.

SCIUTTO: No question, and I'm deep into it. It's an issue of great interest to myself. I'm just trying to drill down on this issue of accepting foreign help because that gets to Americans' participation in foreign interference. And as you know, the Mueller report did establish that the Trump campaign was open to such foreign help in 2016.

Should the President say definitively -- because as you know, when first asked about this some weeks ago, he said, well, heck, if someone offers me help, I might take it. Do you want to hear from the U.S. president saying under no circumstances should I or any campaign accept any foreign help, foreign assistance, foreign interference in a U.S. election?

BARRASSO: The President will speak for himself. 16 Russians have been arrested in their involvement in the 2016 election. We know the Russians were involved and are going to try it again in 2020. We need to make sure we have everything in place so they cannot do what they want to do, not just in America but worldwide.

SCIUTTO: North Korea, as you know, launched two more missiles yesterday, a new missile apparently. That's not the first time they've done this. The President has now sat down face-to-face with the North Korean leader three times. You're, of course, on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I know you follow the threat from North Korea and you take it very seriously. In your view, what has the President achieved from diplomacy of North Korea still testing missiles and has not taken any steps to curtail its nuclear program?

BARRASSO: Well, I think that North Korea with nuclear weapons, and they have them, makes the world -- the entire world less safe and less secure and less stable. I think the President was absolutely right to engage North Korea and to continue that engagement.

All these rocket launchings continue to be troubling, but more troubling is the fact that they have the nuclear weapons. The sanctions are working. Kim Jong-un, we know, is a brutal, ruthless dictator and we need to make sure that he continues to feel maximum pressure. We need to do it with the sanctions. I believe we should also be doing it with joint military actions in the area in terms of exercises, not actions, but exercises. And third, work with the international community to continue to increase the pressure on North Korea.

SCIUTTO: As you know, this president has suspended large scale military exercises with South Korea as somewhat of a concession with North Korea. He's met three times now. You say that the engagement is good and I don't think anybody would dispute that. But I want to ask you what has that engagement achieved if North Korea is still testing missiles and has not given an accounting of its nuclear program?

BARRASSO: I think that interaction is always good. It is helpful. I think that the heat has actually been turned down from where it was when President Trump took office. So I think we're moving too slowly from my point of view to getting the solution which we need and which the President continues to demand, which is a complete elimination of nuclear weapons from the entire North Korean Peninsula.

SCIUTTO: You believe they're moving too slowly?

BARRASSO: Oh, I believe they are moving too slowly. But that is the direction we need to go. And we are against any relief of sanctions until we actually see action on their part.

SCIUTTO: If North Korea is moving too slowly, is the President showing too much patience here then with Kim?

BARRASSO: Well, I think that we're in a safer and better place now than we were two-and-a-half years ago. So I think the President is doing the right thing, increasing sanctions, as he continues to do. And I'd like to see more engagement of the international community lined up against North Korea.

SCIUTTO: Final question if I can on Saudi Arabia. As you know, the President vetoed a measure that would have prohibited arms sales to Saudi Arabia. As you know, and some of this came from CNN reporting, Saudi Arabia, some of those arms have ended up in the hands of Al Qaeda, some of those have been used and civilians have been killed.

[10:25:03]

And the Pentagon has scolded Saudi Arabia for not taking enough measures to prevent civilian casualties.

You voted against blocking arms sales. Why still sell arms to Saudi Arabia?

BARRASSO: Well, you know that part of the world. You've lived there. I was there a couple of weeks ago over the 4th of July visiting our troops in the Persian Gulf. You have the threat of Iran, which continues, their threat to get a nuclear weapon, their threat and support of terrorists, their efforts in Yemen, through the Houthis, to attack Saudi Arabia. There are bad guys and there are worse guys in that part of the world.

And to me, the greatest threat is Iran in terms of threatening the stability of global peace. We need peace and security and stability abroad if we want safety and security at home. And I'm siding there with Saudi Arabia. Although we need to reevaluate that entire relationship because of things we've seen in their behavior as well.

SCIUTTO: Does that include the murder of Jamal Khashoggi?

BARRASSO: Absolutely. I know the fingerprints to me of the Crown Prince are on that murder weapon. I've called for that. This is against our values of the United States, and I've spoken forcefully about that. That's why we're today in the Foreign Relations Committee in a few minutes having a meeting, a business meeting to vote on legislation to say, let's reevaluate this entire relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, because there are certain things in Saudi Arabia that are in our best interest, certainly others that are not consistent with our values.

SCIUTTO: Senator John Barrasso, the great State of Wyoming, thanks very much for joining us this morning.

BARRASSO: Thanks, Jim.

HARLOW: All right. Ahead for us, former Vice President Joe Biden took some serious jabs in the last debate, but the 2020 presidential candidate says do not expect him not to jab back when he shares the stage with rivals in just a few days.

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