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Trump On Supreme Court Immunity Ruling: "Big Win For Our Constitution And Democracy; Justice Sotomayor Gives Chilling Warning On Immunity Ruling; Boeing Agrees To Buy One Of Its Suppliers In Attempt To Boost Safety; Portland, Maine Is #4 On CNN's "Best Towns To Visit" List. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired July 01, 2024 - 14:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Former President Trump and his allies are celebrating todays historic Supreme Court decision. Trump touting the 6-3 ruling on presidential immunity as a big win for our -- our Constitution and democracy.

While House Speaker Mike Johnson calls it a victory for the former president and a defeat for what he deemed President Biden's weapon -- weaponized Department of Justice and Jack Smith, who is, of course, a special counsel.

CNN's Kristen Holmes is here with more on this.

All right, Kristen, you have the Trump campaign saying this. Tell us more about this. And also how this decision impacts their plans moving forward.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So just remember, yes, they are celebrating this, but this is -- they didn't actually get what they wanted.



HOLMES: They wanted to blanket immunity. So but what this does is this actually helps them with this idea that Donald Trump will likely no longer have to go to trial ahead of the election.

What they were hoping for was anything. They actually got more than what they were hoping for originally.

They were hoping for any kind of limited immunity that would essentially have to kick the case back to Chutkan, which this does, because she is going to have to determine what was an official act and what was an unofficial act.

And then there's going to have to be some litigation around all of that. It seems very unlikely -- now, obviously, we don't know this. But it seems unlikely that Chutkan is going to do this in a vacuum.

We're likely going to hear from both sides as they weigh in to these different actions that are going to be deemed either official or unofficial and therefore covered by immunity.

And one thing to know going into this is that this was really this January 6th case which Judge Chutkan -- it was the last looming potential case for them that would go to trial before the election.

They knew she was moving fast. They knew she said she wanted this to happen before the election. They thought there was still a chance it was going to go on the table even if it would be right up in September or October.

Now it appears that that is done. And because of that, they are very happy and they are celebrating because Donald Trump is going to focus on one thing now, which is the election in November.

KEILAR: Yes, it allows him to do that.

Kristen Holmes, thank you so much. We appreciate it.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: All right, Brianna. Thanks so much.

Liberal justices on the high court say this decision sends a very different message. Chilling words from Justice Sotomayor's dissent, who said, "The decision makes a mockery of the principle that no man is above the law."


A portion of her dissent reading, quote, "Let the president violate the law, let him exploit the trappings of his office for personal gain, let him use his official power for evil ends.

"Because if he knew that he may one day face liability for breaking the law, he might not be as bold and fearless as we would like him to be. That is the majority's message today."

For more on this historic decision, let me bring in CNN political commentator and former defense secretary during the Trump administration, Mark Esper.

His book, "A Sacred Oath," is out now. And he serves on the board or as a strategic advisor for a handful of aerospace and defense related companies.

Secretary, welcome to the show.

So just to recap for our viewers, then-President Trump fired you, in part, because you opposed using the military to crack down on protests over the death of George Floyd.

Chief Justice John Roberts dismisses Sotomayor's doomsday prophecies. Do you?

MARK ESPER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, good afternoon, Pamela. Good to be with you.

And I should add that I'm not a lawyer, so take that for what it's worth.

But I do dismiss the doomsday scenarios. And the reason why is, first, I believe it's fantastical that this notion of somehow the president orders SEAL Team Six to kill a political opponent. I don't like using that talking about it, because I think it risks politicizing the military further.

And so -- but -- but, that said, look, the president has a constitutional duty to -- to protect the United States. So clearly, he can use the military force outside the country. But he doesn't have the authority to employ military force against political opponents within the country.

And I think, as I interpret the reading and talk to others of this decision, that's kind of where the line gets drawn.

BROWN: OK, So just -- I just want to be clear -- and I understand you don't want to politicize the military. But this example was used during the oral arguments and now in Justice Sotomayor's dissent. So it is important to discuss.

So if you were defense secretary for Trump, if you were still serving in the Trump administration, this ruling had been in place and that order was given to you.

And a political rival was outside of the United States, would you feel bound to follow the order to execute on what the president was telling you to do, given the ruling today?

ESPER: No, I would refuse. I believe it is an illegal order. And I believe that the uniformed military would also refuse such an order because it would be illegal.

And so -- and I'm confident that that's what the military would do going forward as well. So that's -- that's my view on it.

Now, you mentioned earlier about the case of protesters in the streets of Washington, D.C., there are things the president can do that may be lawful, but we often call awful. And that he has the authority to do.

But in this case, given an example of using the military to kill political opponent, no, in my view, that's an illegal order. That's not part of his constitutional duties.

That -- that's a law enforcement -- that would be an action -- an action being to consider arresting or pursuing charges against somebody if -- if the president believed they were somehow promoting a conspiracy or trying to overturn the government.

That would be a law enforcement issue, certainly not a military issue. BROWN: So I want to go back to then, you know, going back to President

Trump firing you because of opposing -- your opposition to using the military force when it came to the George Floyd protests.

So under that, given the ruling today, would you have held firm on your stance, given what we just heard from the Supreme Court, or would you have had a different position?

ESPER: Well, I think you have to parse out the example a little bit more. What I opposed was the president using the active-duty military in the streets of Washington, D.C. I thought that was inappropriate.

I thought that the better steps -- and still do, and I wrote about this in my memoir -- is you cited that this is a law enforcement action, first and foremost.

It should be handled by Washington, D.C., law enforcement. If not -- if not the district, then federal law enforcement. And if not that, then of course, the National Guard.

And that's eventually where, in my opposition to him, we walked him back to that point where we had the D.C. National Guard out there and not -- not pushing back on protesters but defending federal buildings and federal property.

And it was ultimately law enforcement, civilian law enforcement that took action against -- with regard to pushing back the protesters, so.

But my view is still the same that there are things that are legal and things that are illegal. And then there are things that are appropriate and things that are inappropriate.

And that's kind of how I would carve up these decisions. And would do so going forward if that were ever the case again.

BROWN: Let me just push back a little bit though. Because the FBI, law enforcement, it's under the executive branch. Right? And as president, when Trump was president, he was head of executive branch, as president of the United States under Article II of the Constitution.

And so do you think it would be harder to push back then in light of this ruling today, saying that if a president is acting in his official duties, that there would be immunity?


And in this -- in the Trump case, it talked about the Justice Department, that the conversations that Trump had with the Justice Department, which is also under the executive branch, that that actually would be protected.

The president would be protected with -- with immunity because those are official -- that's under the official acts category.

ESPER: Yes. Look, and I'd have to think through it a little bit more, but the issue at the time was not immunity for official acts. The question at the time was, did he have the authority to employ active- duty forces on the streets of Washington, D.C.

And the fact is, yes, he did after he invoked the Insurrection Act. That was the piece that I opposed, that Bill Barr opposed.

And so to me, that was the hurdle, was, should he invoke the Insurrection Act? I thought it was inappropriate to do so, but it was completely lawful for him to do so if he wanted.

Again, I thought the better -- the better approach was to use law enforcement. And then, if not law enforcement -- law enforcement was not up to the task, then use the National Guard, since National Guard has a dual mission, which includes support the civilian law enforcement authorities.

BROWN: All right, Mark Esper, thank you for coming on and sharing your perspective. You certainly have an interesting perspective, given your history as well as the former defense secretary under Trump. Appreciate it.

Up next, Boeing's latest $4 billion attempt to repair its safety issues.



KEILAR: Now to Boeing's latest and very costly attempt to overhaul its badly damaged safety reputation. The aircraft maker announcing that it has agreed to buy Spirit AeroSystems -- that's one of its major suppliers -- in a deal valued at more than $4 billion.

Boeing says the acquisition will make safety better.

BROWN: All right, let's bring in CNN's Pete Muntean.

Why does Boeing believe this purchase will boost safety?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, this will bring more of control under Boeing's roof when it comes to actually building the airplane. Because the company has been sharply criticized for relying too heavily on contractors and subcontractors to build major parts of each plane.

And investigators believe it was Spirit AeroSystems' mistake that led to the January 5th door plug blowout. Spirit builds the body or the fuselage of each 737 Max plane in its Wichita, Kansas, plant. And then they're taken by train to Boeing's plant in Renton, Washington.

This purchase is a major part of Boeing's four-point plan to make it so that this incident does not happen again. Boeing's overall plan calls for "revamping training, simplifying assembly line instructions for workers, overhauling the safety culture, and eliminating defects."

That last point is what this is all about. Something I saw firsthand at the 7:37 factory line last week. Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun says this deal, "Is in the best interest of the flying public, our airline customers, the employees of Spirit and Boeing, our shareholders and the country more broadly."

Now, Calhoun was in a Senate subcommittee hotseat last month and he insisted that Boeing inspectors are now showing up the Spirit AeroSystems' Wichita plant in force so that defects are caught before the fuselages are sent to Boeing.

Here is what Calhoun said.


DAVE CALHOUN, BOEING CEO: So that not a single fuselage would leave that facility that wasn't in perfect condition to come to ours. That's how big this effort has been for us, and that is how we've done it.

And we have then sent that message to every supplier with respect to perfection of the products that they deliver to us. So that they can move to our lines in regular order.


MUNTEAN: Last week, at Boeing, I also heard from company head of quality control, Elizabeth Lund. She said, "Eliminating mistakes by Spirit AeroSystems has led to an 80 percent reduction in defects.

I asked her if another door plug blow out can still happen. She insisted she is very confident now that there will not be a repeat.

KEILAR: Well, that is good. Let's hope it comes to be true.

All right, Pete, thank you. Really appreciate it.


Next, much more on our breaking news. The Supreme Court throwing into question the January 6th case against former President Trump, and potentially the guilty verdict even in his hush money trial, after it rules former presidents have immunity for, quote, "official acts."




KEILAR: You like the music, too, right?

BROWN: I do. It's lively.

KEILAR: Now's the time that we count down America's "Best Towns to Visit." Today, we're at number four, Portland, Maine.

BROWN: Love Maine. And when you think of Maine, you probably immediately think of lobster -- I love those lobster rolls -- you wouldn't be wrong here.

CNN's Victor Blackwell.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Portland's lighthouses are for more than just decoration. And it's a harbor town. So the trip from sea to sandwich is short. And I hear it's delicious. It's the next-level food scene. And that's why Portland, Maine, is forth on CNN's list of best American towns to visit.

CNN's Derek Van Dam hit the road to find out more. And I hear he tasted a lot of lobster in the process.


DEREK VAN DAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Portland, Maine, the lobster industry is more than a livelihood. It's a way of life.

(on camera): Now it's getting real.

We just got our lunches.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that. It's - it's heavy.

VAN DAM: We went off about 15 miles off the coast of Maine to catch these.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't get fresher, more locally sourced lobster than that.

VAN DAM (voice-over): Nestled on Portland's waterfront, the Harbor Fish Market has been supplying seafood to Portland restaurants and customers for over 50 years.

The lobsters are so fresh, they can come from the ocean and be on your plate within minutes.


VAN DAM (on camera): I've got a new job?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got a job.

You get a lot of tourists that come in here that don't have the ability to cook when they get home. So we offer the option of, we will cook them and have them chilled for the consumer.

VAN DAM: I'm on the hunt for the perfect lobster roll. So I feel like they were onto something here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're getting close. You're getting close.

VAN DAM (voice-over): He wasn't wrong. Because just a couple of blocks away that handpicked lobster meat ends up here at the Highroller Lobster Company where its co-owners have spent years redefining a Maine classic. ANDY GERRY, CO-OWNER, HIGHROLLER LOBSTER CO.: We grew up right over the bridge in south Portland and we decided that there wasn't anyone really specializing in lobster rolls.

BAXTER KEY, CO-OWNER, HIGHROLLER LOBSTER CO.: To differentiate ourselves, we made a few different sauce options. My mayo, jalapeno mayo, red pepper mayo, a lobster butter. And since then, we've added more and more flavors to our menu.

But I think that's really what allows you to kind of choose your own adventure when you're having a lobster roll.

VAN DAM (on camera): That's a piece of art.

KEY: It's a no-frills kind of a diner vibe restaurant. But you're getting a really elevated food product. And I feel like that's a lot of what Portland is. It's like it's pretty quaint, picturesque, but the food and drink scene is off the charts.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But every time I come back to Portland, Maine, like I appreciate something different about it, whether it's the lack of traffic or how fresh the air is, or how clean our water tastes, or how many amazing restaurants there are that you can go to on any day of the week.


BLACKWELL: A good time and a lot of good food there.

Derek, thank you very much.

If you want to learn more about Portland or view any of the other cities on our top-10 list, go to, or you can scan the QR code on your screen right now.

BROWN: Well, I'm sold.

KEILAR: Victor and Derek with the best assignments. Am I right?

BROWN: I know. I, come back from maternity leave and I'm like, these are the assignments being handed out? Where's my assignment?

KEILAR: We can send you out on the next one, Pam, right?

BROWN: Take me. I'm there.


BROWN: These are my favorite places. I wish I was there.

We'll be right back.