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Trump Weighs Action on Stimulus; Trump Comments on Lewis; Trump Probe Extends Beyond Payments; New Book on Mueller Probe; More Cardinals Test Positive. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired August 4, 2020 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: He said there is no way that we can go home and -- and tell our constituents that we didn't get this done. I -- you see the pressure that is mounting with Senate Republicans and a lot of that pressure's coming from very vulnerable Senate Republicans up for re-election, making clear to Mitch McConnell how important this is, like Thom Tillis of North Carolina or Susan Collins in Maine, or Martha McSally in Arizona. You know, the whole battle for control of the Senate. You've got several vulnerable Republicans who want to see this done.
And I think you're right to note, John, Donald Trump, remember, guys, he campaigned on being the deal-maker, that he can find ways to a deal that nobody else can find. Now, I know he has representatives in Secretary Mnuchin and Chief of Staff Meadows in these negotiations. I understand the administration is not absent. But where is the deal- maker Donald Trump?
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Here are the big holdups, apparently, this morning, federal unemployment benefits, state and local funding -- we hear a lot about the need for that from governors -- liability protections, Postal Service funds. That's obviously very important to the upcoming election. Areas of agreement, the Paycheck Protection Program and direct payments.
And so, I mean, David, Democrats want $600, those supplemental uninsurance dollars to continue. Republicans think that's a disincentive for some people to go back to work. They want $200.
I mean, can they split the difference and go to $400? Are these huge sticking points that they are depriving people of the money they need right now?
CHALIAN: I mean, these are big sticking points. There's -- clearly. There's no doubt about that.
Though I think it's interesting, you know, when the president is sort of trying to disparage Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and the Democrats for not getting a deal done, it's more about the state and local aid. He seems to want to express sort of a simpatico urgency on extending the unemployment, the enhanced unemployment benefits. But as you note, they're miles apart in what that actually looks like. Yes, it could be something in the middle. It can also, perhaps -- I
know the Democrats have said they do not want short term -- but can it also be that there's something in between all the way into next year and very short term? Maybe there's an opportunity for negotiation there.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, David Chalian, overnight, "Axios" on HBO ran an interview that Jonathan Swan, their White House reporter, did with President Trump. People need to watch this. They need to watch the whole thing because of the way the president answers questions. It's not just the answers he gives, it's the way he goes about it and the convoluted and sometimes disjointed, disoriented way.
Now, in the clip we're about to play, Jonathan asks the president about the late Congressman John Lewis, civil rights icon, who was beaten crossing the bridge in Selma, the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, who spoke in Washington in the March on Washington.
Listen to how the president answers this question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN SWAN, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "AXIOS": John Lewis is lying in state in the U.S. Capitol. How do you think history will remember John Lewis?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know. I really don't know. I don't know. I don't know John Lewis. He chose not to come to my inauguration. He chose -- I don't -- I never met John Lewis, actually, I don't believe.
SWAN: Do you find him impressive?
TRUMP: I can't say one way or the other. I find a lot of people impressive. I find many people not impressive. But, no. But I didn't know --
SWAN: Do you find his story impressive?
TRUMP: He didn't come -- he didn't come to my inauguration. He didn't come to my State of the Union speeches. And that's OK. That's his right. And, again, nobody has done more --
SWAN: Right, but that's a --
TRUMP: For black Americans than I have.
SWAN: I understand.
TRUMP: He should have come.
SWAN: But -- but --
TRUMP: I think he made a big mistake. I think he should have come.
SWAN: But take -- but taking your relationship with him out of it, do you find his story impressive, what he's done for this country?
TRUMP: He was a person that devoted a lot of energy and a lot of heart to civil rights, but there were many others also.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHALIAN: John, it's so shameful, but it is also classic Donald Trump. It's a level of narcissism. I mean it's just all about him. I mean, let's be clear, I -- Donald Trump may not know how John Lewis is going to be remembered, but I think the rest of us do. He's going to be remembered as a civil rights icon in this country, as Barack Obama, in his eulogy, called him sort of a future founding father of the new America, of improved America when it comes to a lot of these issues.
And so I don't -- it is just astounding still to watch, as much as we understand that Donald Trump is all about Donald Trump, at that very moment, as he's laying in state up in the Capitol, to make it all about him, and he didn't come to my inauguration, it is exactly what we know Donald Trump to be.
CAMEROTA: I mean it's, obviously, as you said, straight up narcissism. But it's also just the politics of retribution, which we see all the time.
I'm not going to go there. He didn't come to my inauguration. President Trump says it so many times. I mean, obviously, that is the bee in his bonnet. He didn't come to my inauguration. He should have. He didn't come to my inauguration. He didn't come to my -- so -- so he -- he can't rise above that at this moment of national unity.
CHALIAN: Yes. And also the setting, right? You watch his interview. They're sitting in the Blue Room of the White House. This is the president of the United States of America. And it is just personal grievance. It's not about the country at all.
BERMAN: What a baby. I have to say, what a baby. What an incredible baby. And it's not just narcissism, it's petulance. The way he kept on saying, oh, you know, he didn't come to my inauguration, didn't come to my inauguration. And then -- and then to have the gall to say, I have done more for black Americans than anybody else. You know who's done more for black Americans than Donald Trump? John Lewis!
CHALIAN: Yes, a lot more.
BERMAN: A lot more. It was really stunning to see. It's also possible the president doesn't know what John Lewis did because, you know, I didn't see any connection there in the president's brain about the history there.
So, David Chalian --
CHALIAN: Well, that -- yes, OK. BERMAN: Well, he should. I mean, he should know, but I -- you know --
CHALIAN: Yes, he should absolutely know. I -- my -- I don't know, John, I think he probably does know, but he was so searching for a way not to give him any credit because of the personal grievance.
All right, David, have a lovely day.
CHALIAN: Thanks. You guys, too.
BERMAN: All right, prosecutors in New York making a stunning revelation in court about potential other investigations into the president and his business. Details, next.
CAMEROTA: Developing this morning, prosecutors in New York telling a judge that their investigation of President Trump extends beyond the hush money payments to two women who allege affairs with Donald Trump.
Joining us now is Jeffrey Toobin, CNN chief legal analyst and author of the new book out today, "True Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Investigation of Donald Trump."
Jeffrey, I can't wait to talk about your book. But, first, let's talk about what prosecutors in New York are doing. So what clues do we have that this is well beyond the payments to Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, two things. It's a wide-ranging financial investigation relating to tax matters, relating to fraud, and, of course, relating to the possibly unlawful campaign contributions with the two women.
The other thing we know is that the prosecutors are going to get those documents. I mean the Supreme Court decision in that case was really quite clear. It may take a month, it may take two months, but they are going to get the financial records and the tax documents.
The important point for the public to remember, though, is that this is a grand jury investigation, and those documents will not be released to the public until and unless there's a trial, and that would be probably at least a year away. So, you know, before the election, the public is not going to learn any of this stuff that people have been curious about for so long.
BERMAN: You know, this actually has a direct tie to your book, Jeffrey Toobin, because I learned in reading your book that the Mueller investigation never tried to get the president's tax returns. Never did get the president's tax returns. And that's something I had no idea. I think we had all assumed that the Mueller team had everything and decided to delve back into the president's long history with Russia. And in your book, in your meticulous research, I learned, no.
TOOBIN: Yes, well, one of the striking things about the Mueller investigation is the degree to which he followed -- Mueller -- the -- to the letter the jurisdiction that was given him by Rod Rosenstein when he was hired on May 17, 2017. You know, he did not look at the -- he did not look at the background of Trump's relationship with Russia. He looked at the campaign and he looked at the 2005 deal that Michael Cohen negotiated to build a tower in Moscow, but he never looked at what Donald Trump's historical relationship was with Russia.
And the question that, you know, so many of us have asked for so long is, what is it about Russia that Donald Trump has been so solicitous of Vladimir Putin? What does Vladimir Putin have on him? What are Trump's financial interests in Russia? Mueller felt that was outside his jurisdiction. And it's just part of a larger story of what Mueller did not do.
CAMEROTA: Well, I do want to get to the book right now, but, very quickly, I just want to say that it's Michael Cohen who suggested in front of Congress that Donald Trump was illegally fudging the numbers of the Trump Organization, and he gave names of people who would know that. And we know he's been interviewed, I think, by prosecutors several times since then. So he may be the key to whatever prosecutors are going to find.
But let's talk about your book because you basically talk about Mueller's failings. And so here's one portion. You say Mueller's caution and reticence led him to fail at his two most important tasks thanks to the clever actions and strategic inaction of Trump's legal team, Mueller failed to obtain a meaningful interview with Trump himself. Even worse, Mueller convinced himself, wrongly, that he had to write a final report that was nearly incomprehensible to ordinary citizens in its legal conclusions.
Yes, those are two biggies. I mean, why did Mueller do that?
TOOBIN: Well, you know, the Mueller team, led by Mueller himself, were honorable, competent, highly skilled, experienced prosecutors. But they -- you know, the irony -- we know history is so full of ironies. They were so criticized by the president for their aggressiveness and for their zeal, the real story, I think, was -- was when they didn't display enough zeal.
The story of how and why Trump's legal team was able to avoid a subpoena and managed to satisfy Mueller just by giving these very bland, uninformative, written answers to written questions, is really an extraordinary story of how Rudolph Giuliani, despite his bizarre behavior, was very clever in stretching that negotiation out so far that it actually created in the impression in Mueller's office that the legal fight would take too long. He did not -- you know, he could have pressed the issue earlier, and he didn't.
And as for the report, you know, the -- we all remember the Office of Legal Counsel opinion that says the president can't be indicted while he's in office. But Mueller convinced himself that because of that, he couldn't say -- Mueller couldn't say whether the president actually committed a crime, because the president would never have his day in court to defend himself.
But I thought that was a real abdication, especially when you look at the evidence of obstruction of justice that Mueller compiled in this meticulous, thorough, effective investigation. Trump was guilty of obstruction of justice. It's quite clear. Worse than Bill Clinton. Worse than Richard Nixon. Both of whom were for -- I mean Nixon was forced out of office, Clinton was impeached. The evidence was stronger against Trump. But Mueller pulled that punch, and I think it was -- it was a gift to Donald Trump.
BERMAN: And, by the way, Jeffrey, you don't mince words at all in the book about obstruction of justice. You write, just as you said just now, the president obstructed justice full stop.
The other thing -- and I'm glad you brought up Rudy Giuliani, that you do in your book, you talk about what a good job Giuliani did as a lawyer and PR agent on the Mueller investigation for the president, in your opinion. But then you say he may have done the worst lawyering job in all of history as it pertains to Ukraine. And you so cleverly interlay the Ukraine issue with the Mueller investigation, putting Giuliani's first meeting with Lev Parnas right in the chronology there.
TOOBIN: Well, you know, it -- that, to me, was -- you know, we -- all of us, the three of us, all our colleagues covered this story every day for so long. The opportunity to write a book and pull it together, you see different things. And one of the -- one of the things that I thought was one of the most important was that the Russia story and the Ukraine story were really one story. When you look at the issue of collusion and the desire to use foreign governments and foreign money and foreign power for Trump's personal and political advancement, it was exactly the same idea in -- with Russia and with Ukraine. Same thing with obstruction of justice. When you do something you're embarrassed about, you lie about it and you obstructed justice. Same in both.
The big difference was that in Russia, Trump was just a real estate developer with a long-shot run for president. He didn't have anything to give. He didn't have the power to help out or coerce Putin to do anything. What was different in Ukraine is that he was already the president and he had leverage, and he has the power of the U.S. government. And you see in the infamous July 25, 2019, phone call, in the whole range of effort that Trump made about Ukraine, how he coerced Ukraine, not for the national interest, but just to get himself re-elected. That's what was so important, so different about the two stories.
CAMEROTA: The book out today, "True Crimes and Misdemeanors" by Jeffrey Toobin. Thank you for giving us a preview. Great to talk to you, Jeffrey.
TOOBIN: Oh, thanks, guys. It was so nice. You know, we talked about this so often, but now it's like come full circle.
CAMEROTA: The nostalgia is really powerful.
BERMAN: I thought -- I thought it was nice you dedicate the book to both of us also, Jeffrey. So we (INAUDIBLE) about that also.
TOOBIN: Well, I did dedicate it to my fellow journalists.
BERMAN: We're included.
CAMEROTA: Thank you.
TOOBIN: Yes (ph).
CAMEROTA: All right, moving on.
Major League Baseball. The season is in jeopardy after more players test positive for coronavirus. We have the latest for you in the "Bleacher Report," next.
BERMAN: Developing this morning, Major League Baseball has postponed four more games due to coronavirus concerns. Members of the St. Louis Cardinals, 13 players and staff, have now tested positive.
Andy Scholes has the very latest in the "Bleacher Report."
The Cardinals now the second team where this is clearly spreading, Andy.
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Good morning, John.
You know, Major League Baseball continues to just have big problems with their travel model of play during this pandemic. Twenty-one games now have been postponed. And just think, what if this happens to a team when the postseason rolls around? Then what do you do? For now, seven Cardinals players and six staffers have tested positive for Covid-19 in the past week. As a result, the team's four-game series against the Tigers in Detroit that was scheduled to start today has been postponed. The Cardinals have been in quarantine in Milwaukee since Thursday. They're going to stay there. And their personnel's going to continue to be tested daily.
For now, the plan is for the team to resume its regular schedule on Friday against the Cubs in St. Louis.
Now, the Miami Marlins, meanwhile, are set to resume their season today in Baltimore after an outbreak of coronavirus sidelined more than half of their team. And team CEO Derek Jeter, he defended his players saying they were not running around Atlanta going to bars and clubs, but he did say a lack of social distancing and not wearing masks helped the virus spread.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEREK JETER, CEO, MIAMI MARLINS: What probably happened is there's a false sense of security, right?
I mean guys have been going through three weeks of spring training, four weeks, and everyone had tested negative. They're all together. And they had a false sense of security. So -- so they let their guard down. And, look, as an organization, we had to pay the price, bottom line.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: Now, 21 members of the organization were infected, including at least 18 players. Jeter said none are seriously ill and he expects all of them to return this season.
But, John, the Marlins, as of now, have only played three games this year. The Braves in the exact same division have already played 11 games. You know, it's supposed to be a 60-game regular season. It's going to be interesting to see how many teams actually reach that number.
BERMAN: Look, interesting is one way to put it. I love being able to watch sports on TV. I really do. But when you game this out, it's just hard to see how the season reaches its conclusion.
Andy, thanks so much for being with us.
SCHOLES: All right.
BERMAN: So, breaking overnight, President Trump made a staggering claim about testing and the U.S. death toll from coronavirus, insisting the pandemic is under control. We'll talk to Dr. Sanjay Gupta about that, coming up.