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John Bolton's Book Is A Tell All About President Trump; President Trump Is Forging Ahead With His First Post-Pandemic Campaign Rally; A Diner In New York That Struggled During The Coronavirus Is Now A Go-To Destination. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired June 18, 2020 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And it is significant, because though we've heard other critical kind of tell-all books, this was his national security advisor. This was the -- the president's national security advisor.
And he, I think, is being the most explicit and critical, because he says that he was right there for these moments. He was listening.
He was taking notes as President Trump was doing things like asking President Xi of China for election help with his re-election coming up in 2020 by -- if President Xi would just buy some more agricultural products from the U.S.
And so, what's the reaction this morning in the White House?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ADVISOR: Well, it's not happy, Alisyn. Look, this is, as you say, this is an unusual book because there is a name to it, and advisor. This is not anonymous people talking to various authors or anonymous people talking to those of us who write these stories for CNN and for the "New York Times."
This is somebody who is basically confirming everything we have all written and then supplying additional details from what he was present for. So, the White House is very unhappy. They have -- had a sort of belated reaction to this book, for lack of a better way of putting it.
When Mike Schmidt and I first reported on some of the revelations in this book that related to the president's call with the President of Ukraine, that was the heart of the Impeachment Inquiry, when we reported on that last January, the White House was reactive, but then they believed they had gotten past it.
Bolton made clear in -- in media accounts two weeks ago that he was going to go ahead with this, and yet the White House only this week started moving to try make a legal effort to stop it from going forward. And from the folks I talk to, they think a lot of that is really aimed at making the president feel like the White House is trying to do something.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: So, Alisyn referenced the president requesting help from authoritarian China in President Trump's re- election, begging for help as Bolton describes it. He also, and I'm going to read another excerpt here about giving China an OK to build concentration camps for a million Muslims. Let me read it.
At the opening dinning of the Osaka G20 meeting in June 2019, with only interpreters present, Xi -- this is President Xi, had explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang, this is northwest China. According to our interpreter Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do.
It's concentration camps, World War II style in the 21st Century. Beyond its anger, et cetera, does the White House have an answer to the National Security Advisor giving a first hand account of this? Do they have a factual answer to that allegation?
HABERMAN: No. Look, as you have seen Jim, so far what they have said is two -- two things that are very hard to square as both true. One is that the book is -- is highly classified, as the president said. And the other is that it's false. The president called John Bolton a liar last night.
A White House official I spoke to last night said, look, there are some things in there that are -- that are true, that are classified. There are other things that they arguing are not true, but they're not specifying which, which is a time warn tradition, as you know, of -- of administration's saying, you know, we're not going to get into the specifics, but that said, this isn't going away.
Amazingly there are people around the president who think that this Bolton fight is a better fight for them than the pressure the president has been under amid a massive shift in public sentiment about police and race relations in this country.
But as you just noted, when the two choices are either talking about concentration camps for Uighurs or race relations, these are -- these are not great options if you're running for re-election.
CAMEROTA: When you poll those issues, those are not at the top of the list of what voters want the president to be dealing with or talking about, I guess, or favoring. Here's another one, one of the things that John Bolton says is that President Trump is easily duped by foreign leaders, leaders like Putin, that basically he falls for the things -- their story lines, the things that they say to him.
Here is another excerpt that the "New York Times" got from this book about how he favors dictators. Bolton describes several episodes where the president expressed a willingness to halt criminal investigations to in affect give personal favors to dictators he liked, said in cases involving major firms in China and Turkey, Bolton said the pattern looked like obstruction of justice as a way of life.
Maggie, your thoughts on that.
HABERMAN: What's interesting about that, Alisyn, is that is also a conversation that John Bolton had, he writes, with Bill Barr the Attorney General.
He writes that he had this conversation with Barr and that Barr shared some of his concerns about the president's conversations with President Xi about the president's conversations with Edogan of Turkey about ZTE, the Chinese tech firm, about Halkbank, a sanctioned bank in -- a company in Turkey.
And basically that the president was willing to wave concerns by the American judicial system about these companies that had state connections, and that Barr himself was concerned about it.
When Mike Schmidt and I wrote about this in January, we got a massive denial from Bill Barr. We have not heard that in the last few days. What we have heard from Bill Barr is his anger that Bolton wrote a book and his suggestion that it's unprecedented while someone is still in office. That's also not true.
SCIUTTO: Maggie, there's another story in here about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, because he has been one of the president's most public and ardent defenders, passing a note to Bolton saying he is full of shit, talking about the president.
HABERMAN: Didn't know we were allowed to say that on air.
SCIUTTO: You and I know -- well, you know what, it's the way they talk, so we got to -- we got to quote it. Pompeo's strategy, ad you know in the past, is attack reporters, et cetera, when they have stories like this. This is the National Security Advisor giving this account. He also says that Pompeo, as well as Bolton, considered resigning at point.
As you know, the president does not suffer critics. This is -- these are -- this is someone still working for him, right? What is the president's response going to be this?
HABERMAN: Well, the president did talk about this last night in, I think, it was an interview with the "Wall Street Journal," saying show me the note. Show me where this happened, which is a version of what Mike Pompeo said, although he didn't -- whoever was talking on his behalf wasn't on the record, which I though was interesting. In a comment to Jake Sherman of "Politico: saying, this isn't true, you know, this is all made up.
Bolton has not just one example of Mike Pompeo being unhappy with the president, he has several examples of Mike Pompeo threatening to resign, which is a note to your point, because he has been such a vocal public defender of the president. I think it is going to incumbent upon Mike Pompeo to say in his own words that this not true and people can then weight the two statements together.
SCIUTTO: Yes. We should not that the Pompeo is currently in Hawaii with the Chinese Foreign Minister. He did not bring any reporters with him, which is extremely unusual, so therefore cannot be challenged immediately by reporters on these revelations. Maggie Haberman, great to have you on this morning.
HABERMAN: Thanks guys.
SCIUTTO: The president is forging ahead with his first post-pandemic campaign rally in deep red Oklahoma. And we should note, a city which is home to one of the worst episodes of racial violence, almost a century ago. One local lawmaker is just a handful of those speaking out against the visit. She's going to join us next.
CAMEROTA: As you know President Trump plans to hold a big rally on Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and some supporters are already lining up there.
And while the focus will be on the president's re-election, it is impossible to ignore the city's painful history of racial violence.
CNN's Abby Phillip is live in Tulsa for us with a closer look. Hi Abby.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Alisyn. I am standing here not too far from where President Trump will have his rally, but in a neighborhood called Greenwood and this mural behind me that says Black Wall Street marks where 99 years ago this was a bustling prosperous city within a city of the City of Tulsa and it was destroyed in a night of violence, of racial violence, after a white mob completely burnt it to the ground.
I spoke to some of the descendants of the survivors of that massacre who say this national conversation on systemic racism has special residence here.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic the beating heart of Tulsa's Greenwood district is still here, at the historic Vernon AME church.
The sanctuary sits atop a basement that is the last remaining structure in the once prosperous black community that was destroyed by a white mob during the bloody massacre in 1921.
REV. ROBERT RICHARD ALLEN TURNER, PASTOR OF VERNON AME CHURCH: We're the only thing on the original Greenwood Avenue that's still black owned. And the only thing that's still black owned in the Greenwood district.
PHILLIPS: Nearly 100 years ago the oil boom made Tulsa a mecca for a generation of black war veterans, businessmen, doctors and lawyers.
REGINA GOODWIN, (D), OKLAHOMA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: You've got folks that are envious of what they called at that time Little Africa.
PHILLIPS: Then on June 1, 1921, hundreds of white Tulsa residents went on a murderous rampage after a white woman accuses a black man of sexual assault.
GOODWIN: You would either say in your house and burn to death or try to run out in the street and -- and -- and hope not to be felled by a bullet.
PHILLIPS: Homes were looted then burned to the ground. And hundreds were killed.
TURNER: Not one person was ever charged with a crime from the worse race massacre in American history.
PHILLIP: A history shrouded in secrecy.
TURNER: It's been so long there was this intimidation of silence that the white community put upon Greenwood, that if anybody talked about it they became missing, they were killed, they were lynched.
PHILLIP: Now, in the midst of national reckoning on systemic racism, President Trump has offered this solution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What you now see, it's been happening, is the greatest thing that can happen for race relations, for the African-American community, that's what my plan is. We're going to have the strongest economy in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: For descendants of massacre survivors like Oklahoma State Representative Regina Goodwin, that message falls flat.
GOODWIN: You had wealthy folks in Tulsa at the time, so their wealth did not protect them from racism, nor would anyone's wealth today.
PHILLIP: As Tulsa seeks to move forward it must first look back.
GOODWIN: Black folks have the story. We want white folks to begin to share the story, but the accurate story.
CHIEF EGUNWALE AMUSAN, PUBLIC OVERSIGHT CENTER FOR TULSA RACE MASSACRE GRAVES INVESTIGATION: Right here. Yes, June 1, 1921, both of them.
PHILLIP: Here in the city cemetery only two graves mark the dead from that massacre and the location of most of the victims bodies are unknown.
AMUSAN: Right here where this road goes down the middle of Oaklawn Cemetery, and they built a trench, they dug a trench and dumped bodies down into the trenches. PHILLIP: chief Amusan's grandfather survived the massacre as an
infant then returned to Tulsa as an adult. Now Amusan works to find those who didn't survive, soon digging to find the remains of those where lost.
Generations separated from Tulsa's darkest day, a chance to change course.
AMUSAN: So, if we learn anything from this, we're getting an opportunity to see whether or not man's inhumanity to man has changed at all.
PHILLIP: Now this week the Zarrow Fund, which is here in Tulsa, said they were inspired by the protests all around the country and the upcoming 100 year anniversary of the massacre. They've created a $6 million fund for -- to honor the victims of that massacre.
And a quick update on the excavation plans, they had planned this summer to continue the excavation to find whatever remains of the victims of the massacre, but they had to put that on hold due to the coronavirus concerns. They plan and hope to resume as soon as it's safe. Jim?
SCIUTTO: Abby Phillip, thanks so much. So much heartbreaking history there. Joining us now is Vanessa Hall-Harper, she is the Vice Chair of the Tulsa City Council. Miss Harper, thanks so much for coming on this morning.
As you know the president's rally there in Tulsa, it's going ahead, it was going to be on Juneteenth, tomorrow marking the emancipation of slaves, moved one day. Is moving it one day in light of not just Juneteenth, but also the anniversary of the massacre there, does that make a difference?
VANESSA HALL-HARPER, VICE CHAIR TULSA CITY COUNCIL: No. No, it makes no difference at all. Juneteenth is a weekend celebration, so him moving it one day has no effect what so ever on what I fear could be a very tense situation that could turn very bad, very quickly.
SCIUTTO: Tell me the -- the reaction to you on the health concerns here, because of course, the president insisting on having this rally indoors, exactly the kind of venue that health experts say is the perfect place for the virus to be transmitted, indoors, crowded, lots of people talking, shouting, expelling droplets, et cetera. You have noted the mayor has the authority to prevent this from happening, they mayor has expressed anxiety about this event.
By letting it go forward, is the mayor, is the governor endangering the people of Tulsa, the people of Oklahoma?
HALL-HARPER: I believe so, absolutely. And I believe so because they have the authority to stop it. The arena, the BLK Arena was closed to the end of July because of the COVID crisis. And this again was allowed to happen I believe because the president is who he is.
And certainly it doesn't -- and surely because this is a red state both exceptions were made. I would venture to say that if Presidential Candidate Biden has asked that the answer would probably have been no, but you know, who knows.
But it -- it is a very great concern, certainly at the -- on the public health level here in Tulsa, we have yesterday reported 96 additional cases, which is the largest spike of positive cases that we have experienced since the crisis began. And it is a concern.
Trump himself sees wearing a mask as weak and berates anyone who chooses or wants to wear a mask, sees it as a sign of weakness. And so, I am very concerned about the potential aftermath, what's going to happen here, not only as it relates to our public health, but also potentially what could happen in our community because there could very well be some negative confrontations that take place.
SCIUTTO: How concerned are you about confrontations like that?
HALL-HARPER: I'm very concerned. The atmosphere here is tense and it's growing more and more tense. Rumors are spreading about situations that are possibly taking place.
I'm looking to try to confirm or deny, just -- just as people are coming into town in preparation and -- and -- and visiting our -- our city, that there has been some -- some -- some negative, you know, confrontations.
Nothing that have blown out of proportion yet, but I think as we get closer, again, the atmosphere is growing more and more tense. And I'm very concerned that something bad could happen.
SCIUTTO: There has been concern that demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd have attracted extremist groups, including white supremacist groups that have deliberately sparked violence. Are you concerned about that in Tulsa this weekend?
HALL-HARPER: Absolutely. Absolutely. We know that -- that Trump has a pretty large following of -- of extremists, people that want to carry around automatic weapons. Oklahoma is a constitutional carry state and -- and that is something with concern, that is something with concern. And, I mean, I'm not -- I don't think it will take much.
And I know that the police department and others in law enforcement are trying to make sure that doesn't happen, but all one must do is look around this country to see that things can go -- can -- things can turn very bad very quickly and I'm concerned about that for my community.
SCIUTTO: Goodness. Well, we'll be watching closely. We -- we hope that's not how it turns out. Vanessa Hall-Harper, thanks so much for joining the program this morning.
HALL-HARPER: Thank you. SCIUTTO: Coming up, a blast from the past. We're going to take you
to a drive-in diner helping keeping on community connected during the pandemic.
CAMEROTA: How did a diner in Queens, New York, that struggled during the pandemic lockdown suddenly become one of the city's go-to destinations? The answer is two words, drive in. CNN's Bill Weir takes us there.
BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You've heard the slogan always open, well the Bel-Aire Diner in Queens hasn't locked their doors in 22 years.
What was it like to realize that you had to shut down?
KALERGIS DELLAPORTAS, GENERAL MANAGER BEL-AIRE DINER: Oh man, it was scary, depressing, you know, we've been continuously open 24/7 for 22 years.
WEIR: When pandemic business dropped 70 percent and they were forced to lay off 20 year employees, it looked like that iron streak would end, until a flash of inspiration from the past.
So, what are you looking for? A blue Honda in the third row?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Blue Honda third row.
WEIR: I should have brought my roller blades. Oh look, there's two milkshakes going that way.
Welcome to New York City's first ever pandemic drive-in theater. At $32 a car patrons get films like "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." And after ordering online they get masked carhops.
WEIR: Have you ever been to a drive-in movie before?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, this is my first time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, no I've never been to one.
WEIR: Welcome to the pinnacle of entertainment in 1955. Now, back in my day in order to go to a drive-in movie we snuck people in in the trunk so we wouldn't have to pay full price. Do you have anybody in your trunk?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We do not. A tip for next time.
WEIR: To maximize sales they have two seatings or parkings, starting with dueling pianos or standup comedy.
ROBYN SCHALL, STANDUP COMEDIAN: Believe it or not, this is -- this is not the weirdest thing I've done in a parking lot. WEIR: Very funny set.
SCHALL: Thank you. It feels so good to be doing standup live.
WEIR: I bet.
SCHALL: I'm like on such a high.
WEIR: Even though you can't hear laughter.
SCHALL: I did -- I could see the laugh, I could feel it, it was a vibe. It was a vibe. And they would like flash their lights.
WEIR: Tickets sell out in minutes. There are even scalpers on Instagram.
DELLAPORTAS: I would have never ever, every imagined like driving and then now we've become like Ticketmaster. I -- I made a joke with someone, like oh, we're the Beatles now, we sell out -- you know we sell out in five minutes.
WEIR: Between this and a government loan they've hired back almost all of the staff. But equally important is how they've again become a hub of human connection, as neighbors cut off for months can finally share something in person.
DELLAPORTAS: Next door neighbors, they ended up in the same parking spaces, and yet they hadn't seen each other in seven weeks, and it was just like, oh my God. So, like really upbeat. People thank us constantly. It's an awesome feeling.
WEIR: As the last few hundred drive-ins in the U.S. experience a reissuance, the Bel-Aire may be inspiration for other struggling restaurants, willing to turn an empty lot into profit and a much needed taste of better days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Life moves pretty fast.
WEIR: Bill Weir, CNN, Queens, New York.
CAMEROTA: OK, Jim Sciutto are going there right after this program. And "New Day" continues right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fulton Country District Attorney announced charges against the to police officers in the Rayshard Brooks shooting.
PAUL HOARD, DISTRICT ATTORNEY FULTON COUNTY GEORGIA: We've concluded a the time Mr. Brooks was shot that he did not pose an immediate threat of death.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This isn't like a celebration, because this never should have happened.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Despite the message coming from the White House and its allies, the COVID crisis in the U.S. has not abated.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you look the numbers are very miniscule compared to what it was. It's dying out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Administration wants to move beyond coronavirus but the virus isn't going to cooperate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is "New Day," with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
CAMEROTA: And good morning everyone. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. John Berman is off. We are happy to have Jim Sciutto with us this morning.
Two officers charged in the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks are suspected to surrender in the next few hours. Fired officer Garrett Rolfe facing 11 charges, including felony murder that carries the possibility of the death penalty.
A second officer, Devon Brosnan charged with aggravated assault for allegedly standing on Brook's shoulders after he was on the ground and fighting for his life in a Wendy's parking lot.
And we're hearing from Rayshard Brooks himself, in his own words, just four month before he was killed. Brook's talks about trying to turn his life around after incarceration.
RAYSHARD BROOKS, SHOOTING VICTIM: I just feel like some of the system could look at us as individuals.