Return to Transcripts main page
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D) California Says Meeting With Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) New York Went Well; North Korea Says Missile Launch Was A Warning To South Korea; An Official Reports, Iran Test Fires Medium-Range Ballistic Missile; Biden Takes More Aggressive Approach On Campaign Trail; Sen. Kamala Harris (D) California Speaks At National Urban League Conference. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired July 26, 2019 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: All right, top of the hour. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: And I'm Jim Sciutto. It's Friday. So how much time do you need to heal a political rift? Well, maybe only 30 minutes or so. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi leaving her highly anticipated meeting with the freshman Congresswoman, Alexander Ocasio- Cortez only saying these words, it went well.
HARLOW: And she did say, right, that she'll say a little bit more today. She'll plain more during a news conference. That is happening later this hour. We'll bring that to you live.
Before that, let's get to Jason Carroll on Capitol Hill. Jason, I saw you chasing her yesterday. I saw you chasing AOC yesterday for some answers.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, chasing yesterday, chasing again today, both Ocasio-Cortez and the Speaker. And, look, going into this meeting, the Speaker said she was looking forward to coming out of it. She said it went well. She said a little bit more when asked if the two were able to resolve some of their differences.
The Speaker said we don't have many differences. Well, of course, they do, Otherwise we wouldn't be where we are today, right? I mean, you look at the history of what's happened with these two, Pelosi downplaying, some say, AOC's influence, whether it be on Twitter or otherwise. You've got the Speaker criticizing the squad for not supporting that immigration bill. So there's been a lot of public back and forth.
What's been interesting to see what's happened after this meeting is that AOC has basically been avoiding our cameras. We've been in several locations here trying to catch up with here. So perhaps what we're trying to see here going forward is a clear message from one person about the outcome of that meeting. That one person is obviously going to be the Speaker when she gives her briefing later on this morning just a little after 10:30 A.M. or so. Poppy, Jim?
HARLOW: All right. We'll be watching you. Keep chasing. Jason Carrol, thank you so much.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, again, will speak in a few minutes. This is the last time that we'll from her likely before the recess as democrats grapple with what they're going to do on impeachment.
SCIUTTO: Yes. You're going to see chairs spinning this afternoon as members leave to head home to their districts.
I want to get CNN's Manu Raju. He's on Capitol Hill. Manu, you're going to be there for the press or -- I mean, let's be clear. The differences between AOC and the House Speaker are real and substantive. I don't imagine anyone expects that a 20-30-minute meeting heals all those rifts.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, but you'll hear the Speaker actually suggest that they're all on the same page. That's going to be her message today. You said that people are leaving. Actually, they've already left. Congress is gone for the six-week recess on the House side. And what they're trying to do is frame a message heading into the recess.
They don't necessarily want to talk about their divisions, of course. They want to talk about their legislative agenda, their economic agenda, where Pelosi has been trying to focus even though the party has been divided on a number of issues, including the impeachment issue and including how to deal with the President and deal with the investigations, and frustration that the party is not doing enough in the view of democrats to hold the White House accountable.
Now, the House Judiciary Committee plans to announce later today that it will file a lawsuit to try to get information, grand jury information related to the Mueller investigation. That is something that Pelosi will point to as part of her fight in her effort in what she says is to try to hold the administration accountable. She wants to put the emphasis on going forward in the courts.
But a number of members, including Jerry Nadler, have privately called for an impeachment inquiry, have even floated the notion of drafting articles of impeachment. But Pelosi says, let's go to the courts first.
One thing that we should look for in the weeks and days ahead is if the Trump administration, in any way, defies a court order. You're hearing more and more democrats who resisted impeachment, say, if there is a defiance of a court order, that could change the dial on impeachment.
But a moment, a number of democrats are worried that they're missing their moment to launch an impeachment probe. The window is closing soon on because Congress is gone. There's not much time left before we head into the full swing of the 2020 season. At that point, the impeachment window could be closed.
SCIUTTO: Guys, it's coming fast. It's coming fast. Manu Raju on the Hill, thanks very much.
Let's discuss now with Lisa Lerer, National Political Reporter for The New York Times and CNN Political Analyst Margaret Talev.
Margaret, Lisa, you've both been around a long time. I'll just begin with Margaret here.
What's the way forward in your view for democrats on this impeachment question? You know, look at the public polling on this, it's actually -- public support for impeachment has actually declined in recent weeks, down at 21 percent, begin impeachment hearings. These are registered voters here. What is your betting on what happens with an inquiry after the break?
MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, this has been Pelosi's point of view the entire time and it's now supported increasingly by the polling and some extent by what happened on the Hill this week, which is that this is an issue for voters to work out.
But, internally, inside the caucus, you see that even after Mr. Mueller's testimony there are a number who want to go forward with it. So one aspect that they are considering is whether there's a way to kind of split the difference. Can you have the Judiciary Committee go ahead with an inquiry that isn't technically impeachment? There has to be some sort of a steam valve for the base and those who are most committed to impeachment to feel that they're getting something.
But Pelosi has remained pretty vigilant in the idea that moving forward full steam ahead could really blowup both the democrats' reelection efforts in Congress and the results of the presidential election. So I don't see any evidence.
And if you're looking to President Trump and Twitter as a guide for how he feels, he doesn't seem to be as worried after the testimony this week.
HARLOW: It was striking, Lisa, to hear Congresswoman Jackie Speier, a democrat, say to Jake tapper, You know, we've got to do this thing by September 1st or bust. Oh, and, by the way, she said there are 20 or 30 democrats in the House who feel they should move forward with impeachment but aren't doing so out of respect for the Speaker. What do you make of that that that many would keep quiet?
LISA LERER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Well, I don't know if that's the exact number, but I know there is a group of democrats who don't want to be out on this if it's not going to happen, which is a thing that you see quite a lot in Washington. There's often a race to be the number 21st that jumps on the bandwagon the second rather than be out there first and particularly for some of these democrats who are from districts that are not -- that are perhaps more moderate, I think there is certainly a political imperative not to be out in front of something that may not end up happening.
I think part of what's happening is a debate within the democratic caucus about politics and public opinion and how you change that. Pelosi thinks, and she tells her caucus, that democrats can't move forward with impeachment because the numbers to support it aren't there. And they should not move forward with impeachment unless the country as a whole supports doing so.
But other people in the caucus, you know, Nadler, Representative Nadler, for example, in these private meetings, say, well, look, democrats can move the country. And they look at the numbers for Watergate, which changed over time to support impeachment. And they argue that they have to take bigger actions, maybe even start moving forward with impeachment in the Judiciary Committee or start drafting articles of impeachment to begin to change public opinion.
And it's unclear how this is all going to get resolved, but I think we'll start to get some hints depending -- after we see what these Congress people hear From their constituents after this recess.
SCIUTTO: Denny Heck made that very point about Watergate to Poppy just in the last hour.
Margaret, beyond the division over impeachment, you have this other division over just the broader direction of the party playing out in this conversation between AOC and Pelosi, but also in the democratic presidential race. How does that proceed in your view? Does it continue as a very public family spat here as we go into 2020?
TALEV: Oh, I mean, absolutely. It will be the dividing line for the next two sets of debates, it will be one of the major axis on which, you know, the contest in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina are fought out.
But I think with Pelosi and AOC is really interesting. It's a testament to Ocasio-Cortez to the power that she has already had been able to wield publicly as a Twitter figure, as a sort of a generational personality. And I think the conventional wisdom has been that she's undercut Nancy Pelosi.
But you could make a different argument also, which that she's really raised Nancy Pelosi's game and allowed Pelosi to move kind of into more of a centrist role where she's had to take on both Trump and the very left-leaning arm of the democratic base and it's allowed her to be sort of less demonized and show her leadership skills.
So I think what happened today's meeting and what we'll hear in the next few hours are actually quite interesting. I don't know what bearing it will have on the presidential base, but I do think it may have a bearing on how Pelosi is able to control Congress between now and the election.
HARLOW: And, Lisa, we are getting some reporting just into us that apparently a number of freshmen democrats in the House had a meeting in the last week to try to sort through some differences. It seems like that leading up to the AOC and Pelosi meeting shows -- and, by the way, they could have met without all of this like public fan fare we're meeting, right? I mean, it was very intentional to make this very public even before the meeting. Does it tell you those two things that they realize missteps here about looking too divided?
LERER: Yes. I think -- well, look, I think nothing unifies the democrats like President Trump and the President coming out and attacking the so-called squad really helped, I think, rally the democrats and pull them together a little bit.
And I do think Margaret's point is a good one. There's something I find deeply hilarious about Nancy Pelosi who was for years and years and years the most highlighted person in the republican attack ads as the San Francisco arch liberal is now the moderate in her caucus. There's something really ironic about that.
But I do think this is an effort by democrats to at least present a more unified front. But these tensions are going to continue. You have a historically crowded primary. We're going to have -- starting next week, we're, of course, going to have the primary debate. And then starting in September, that race is only going to heat up. There's going to be monthly debates, all kinds of cattle calls and high profile events for those candidates.
And these divisions over whether the party should try return to sort of the Obama era and what people thought for a long time was normal in Washington or start something entirely new and pursue these much broader progressive policy prescriptions. That debate is only going to continue, even if it's sort of papered over in the House.
SCIUTTO: You know what's interesting about that, Poppy, is that both parties have gone through this drift, right? I mean, if you look at someone like Governor Kasich, right, who was from a very conservative wing of the party now a raving moderate, right? That's the drift of the parties and it somewhat, to some degree, explains the division in the country.
HARLOW: And how much more polarized we are now than any time at least in modern history, right? Thank you, Lisa Lerer and Margaret Talev. I appreciate it. Have a nice weekend, guys.
All right, still to come, a new report reveals an unprecedented scope of Russia's interference in the election. Great reporting by David Sanger and others at The Times, all 50 states
targeted and now other countries may be targeting the 2020 race here.
SCIUTTO: You might ask where is the outrage, right? Where is the urgency?
HARLOW: Or the bills, Jim. Where is the legislation on this, right?
SCIUTTO: Simple steps. We're going to be all over that story.
Plus, the President downplaying North Korea's latest missile testing, this as the country says its latest launch was meant to send a serious warning to U.S. ally South Korea.
And is America's biggest eCigarette company pulling from the big tobacco playbook? Documents show that Juul spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund youth programming. Ahead, the very troubling details that every parent needs to hear today.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [10:15:10]
SCIUTTO: North Korea says that its latest missile launches were intended as a warning to U.S. ally South Korea. State media shared these pictures of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, overseeing the launch of those missiles. The U.S. military says the latest launch involved a new type of missile for North Korea.
HARLOW: Meantime, CNN has learned that Iran is testing a missile of its own. A U.S. official says the country test fired a medium range ballistic missile that traveled more than 600 miles.
Let's go to the Pentagon again. Barbara Starr is there on this story. A new type, Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a new type of missile in Iran, as you just mentioned, Poppy. But let's go to North Korea first for a second. This is one where the South Koreans are saying now that the North Koreans launched two missiles, short range ballistic missiles that they believe went further than initially assessed. So that's going to be a concern.
What kind of improvements in precision and guidance are the North Koreans making in this missile? It's a missile that they believe, and the U.S. does not disagree with them, may have Russian origins. So, again, the missiles that North Korea fired may not have been particularly new. They may be of Russian origin. But the question, of course, is what is Kim Jong-un doing to improve those missiles and improve his missile capability.
SCIUTTO: Yes, and what is Russia doing by supplying again missile technology to North Korea there. The President has said that these are smaller missiles, therefore indicating he's not concerned. But to be clear, their ranges put U.S. Treaty allies, both South Korea and Japan, within striking distance.
STARR: Well, certainly South Korea right away, of course, because almost anything North Korea has would be within range of South Korea, obviously, depending on the launch point in North Korea. So that's a big concern.
And that's really what they believe Kim is doing right now, sending this message, I still have capability, I can put you at risk. The President of the United States may be trying to downplay it so he can keep his views that there are real negotiations. He can keep those views going in the world community. He can continue to say that. But North Korea definitely sending that message to South Korea and Japan that they still have a capability to launch and it's a message I would say is being heard.
HARLOW: Okay. And, Barbara, before you go, now back to Iran, where a U.S. official at least is saying that they have test fired a medium- range ballistic missile?
STARR: That's right. And this did not -- it was launched inside Iran, it landed in Iran. [10:20:00]
So this test firing itself was not a threat. But, and it's a huge but, this is Iran doing the very same thing, improving the range, precision and guidance on its ballistic missile inventory. President Trump has wanted these ballistic missiles included in any future restrictive negotiation with Iran about its nuclear weapons program. He wants it to include the delivery system, these kinds of missiles.
Right now, Iran has not agreed to any of that, of course. And this, again, much like North Korea, a message from Tehran, we have this missile capability, we're testing it or launching it in these test firings, and we're doing what we can to improve the guidance, range and technology of these missiles, especially their precision. Poppy, Jim?
SCIUTTO: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you.
Meanwhile, President Trump, as we said, downplaying North Korean's recent missile tests. He's often cited the cessation of missile tests as a sign that talks with North Korea are working, but they're back to testing.
HARLOW: That's right. Kaitlan Collins with us again outside the White House. Is that the White House line this morning?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The President seems pretty unfazed by the testing. He's downplaying it and he's minimizing it, saying this in an interview with Fox News last night that simply he just doesn't seem concerned about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: And in the case of North Korea, I'm actually getting along very well with him, but we'll see what happens. I mean, you know, the sanctions are on, the hostages are back, we're getting the remains back, they haven't done nuclear testing. They really haven't tested missiles other than, you know, smaller ones, which is something that lots test.
(END VIDEO CLIP
COLLINS: Now, two things I should note that the President said they are still getting the remains back of U.S. soldiers. That is not simply the case. We actually know that the Pentagon has suspended those exercises after talks with the North Koreans essentially fell through.
But the President is downplaying this, saying that they're smaller, they're not that big of a deal, that's certainly not the way South Korea says it, especially as Barbara just laid out, North Korea says this was intended to send a strong warning to South Korea ahead of those planned exercises with the U.S. So you can just see the discrepancy there between how the President views it and how a close U.S. ally is seeing this. SCIUTTO: So, Kaitlan, to be clear, the President lied last night on Fox when he said that the remains returns are continuing, when, in fact, the Pentagon says they have stopped?
COLLINS: Unless something has changed in recent weeks. Our reporting shows that it has not. But before the President went to DMZ recently, when, of course, he stepped into North Korea, the first sitting president to do so, our reporting showed that actually the Pentagon had suspended those exercises to try to get those remains back. They had gotten a few of them back. They were still going through them. Of course, there's so much scientifically that has to happen when those remains do come back to the United States.
But then U.S. officials said essentially that their calls were going unanswered by the North Koreans after those talks broke down during the President's second summit with Kim Jong-un in Vietnam.
SCIUTTO: Thank you.
HARLOW: Okay, yes. Kaitlan, thank you very much on both of those fronts. We appreciate it.
All right, so to the 2020 race, Joe Biden's campaign says he is going to be a lot more aggressive coming up in the CNN debate next week. At the same time, we're hearing from Senator Kamala Harris, the candidate who caught him off guard in the last debate.
SCIUTTO: We're being told you will see a much more aggressive Joe Biden at next week's CNN democratic presidential debate, his campaign saying that they have learned from the first debate and are now shifting strategy. You may remember Senator Kamala Harris gained on him in the polls after her sharp attack on the former Vice President went viral.
Happening now, Senator Harris is speaking. You see her at the National Urban League Conference in Indianapolis, where she's announcing a plan to boost African-American businesses and schools.
CNN Senior National Correspondent Kyung Lah, who has been covering the Senator and interviewed her as well, is live in Indianapolis. Tell us what her message is today.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, she's going to be sticking very much, according to her campaign, to what you just talked about, her plan, two things (ph), of a black agenda policy, talking about $60 million in investments into STEMs, a specific STEM field (ph) at HSBCU, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, as well as a $12 billion investment, and according to her policy proposal into black entrepreneurship. She's speaking generally about that.
But what we're really interested in and just trying to see if we're going to pick up any cues on whether or not the Senator will be taking a different posture in advance of the democratic debate. You were just mentioning, Jim, that we are seeing a much more aggressive Joe Biden on the daily attack, making sure that he is going to be aggressive, being up front, listening to the attacks that have been incoming from Senators Cory Booker as well as Kamala Harris and making sure that he is knocking that down on a daily basis.
But as the Senator here, as Senator Harris has just begun her remarks here to the National Urban league, she is not mentioning Joe Biden's name. The campaign says she's not going to specifically say his name in these remarks, Jim.
SCIUTTO: We'll see if she sticks to that during the debate next week. Kyung Lah, thanks very much.
HARLOW: All right. Presidential candidate also, Pete Buttigieg, is headed to Iowa today. He will undoubtedly tout his new economic plan. The 2020 candidate is taking on big tech in a big way.
His plan is to try to protect workers, calling out some of the biggest tech companies, like Google, Lyft and Uber on outsourcing employees.
CNN Business Reporter Vanessa Yurkevich --