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Jeanine Pirro Rips Jeff Sessions On TV After He Blocked Job; Mike Pence Waffles On Whether Climate Change Is A Threat; Op-Ed Suggests Trump Should Replace Pence With Nikki Haley On 2020 Ticket; Tenth American Dies In The Dominican Republic. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired June 24, 2019 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:37] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump has employed a number of conservative TV personalities in his administration, but his former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, once blocked Trump from hiring FOX News host and fervent Trump defender, Jeanine Pirro. And according to "The Washington Post," after that she went into attack mode on the then AG.

Chris Cillizza is CNN's politics reporter and editor-at-large.

And so what is this all about?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Well, you are right that she went into attack mode. Let's first play what Jeanine Pirro had to say about Jeff Sessions, and then we'll come back and talk about it. Let's play that.



JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS HOST: I love Jeff Sessions. He's one of the most honorable people in D.C. He's got integrity. He recused himself in a case where, honestly, I wouldn't have recused myself. And if Jeff Sessions can't do his job because he's too scared of recusing himself, maybe he ought to resign himself. But that's just me. Isn't it time to get a working attorney general on staff? Is that the single most dangerous person to the agenda of President Trump, the Republican Party, and ultimately to all Americans, is the attorney general of the United States himself, Jeff Sessions?


CILLIZZA: Look, I love Brooke Baldwin.


CILLIZZA: But if she's not tough enough to do her job -- I mean, it's remarkable. OK. You saw how it got progressively worse.


CILLIZZA: Let's go to another piece from that "Washington Post" story, which is -- I'm just going to read a piece of it. On November 1st, 2017, Pirro met privately with Trump. According to people familiar with the meeting, she discussed putting a special counsel to -- about the Clinton e-mails, right? A move that Jeff Sessions resisted. Two days later, Trump publicly attacked Sessions. Hmm. Wow, what a coincidence. Read the piece. It is about how Pirro and Trump have known one another for a very long time and how she has become not really a news person, but just an advocate who is on cable.

BALDWIN: Yes. Yes. Speaking of cable, let's talk about that sort of surreal interview with the vice president over the weekend.

CILLIZZA: Oh, my gosh. Yes, great segue by the way, Brooke. That's professional on your part.

BALDWIN: You like that?

CILLIZZA: I would never, never, never be able to do that kind of thing.


CILLIZZA: Here is -- this is unbelievable. If you missed it, you were at the beach, you didn't want -- you need to see this. This is our own Jake Tapper on "STATE OF THE UNION" on Sunday with the vice president of the United States, Mike Pence, talking about climate change. Let's play that.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": Do you think it's a threat? Manmade climate emergency is a threat?

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the answer to that is going to be based upon the science.

TAPPER: Well, the science says yes. I'm asking what you think.

PENCE: Well, there's many in the science that --

TAPPER: The science community, in your own administration, at NOAA, at the DNI, they all say it's a threat.

PENCE: I get it. Look, what the president --

TAPPER: But you won't for some reason.

PENCE: What we have said is that we are not going to raise utility rates. Remember what President Obama said?

TAPPER: But it's not a threat. You don't think it's a threat.

PENCE: I think we're making great progress reducing carbon emissions. America has the cleanest air and water in the world. We'll continue to use (INAUDIBLE) forces --

TAPPER: Not true. We don't have the cleanest air and water in the world. We don't. According to -- I mean -- you get back to me with some statistics.


CILLIZZA: Jake is right about that. We don't have the cleanest water in the world. We're in the 20s, by the way. Mike Pence and Donald Trump have that in common. But the point here, Brooke, is the science is not up for debate. The last five years have been the five hottest years ever recorded.


CILLIZZA: The science community, and Jake is right, NOAA, NASA --

BALDWIN: People within his administration, totally.

CILLIZZA: The Fourth Climate Assessment. Dan Coats. The Pentagon released a 22-page memo saying the threat from global warming, too many of their defense operations was real and present and potentially catastrophic.

There is no debate here. He just doesn't want to say it because he knows if he says it, Donald Trump will see it, and he won't like it, because Donald Trump has long been a climate change skeptic at best. Denier at worst. But the science here is clear. Kudos to Jake. Not just because he's our colleague for standing up and making the point that the facts here are the facts. And they're not up for debate.

BALDWIN: Sure. And appreciate the vice president for sitting for an interview.

CILLIZZA: Absolutely.

BALDWIN: And answering those type of questions.

CILLIZZA: Answering question.

BALDWIN: Chris Cillizza, thank you.

CILLIZZA: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Speaking of the vice president, should President Trump trade him in for Nikki Haley. The man who wrote a commentary for the "Wall Street Journal" says yes, it might help bring in more women voters.

[14:35:04] We'll talk to him, next.


BALDWIN: There was a bold new idea being floated, calling for President Trump to ditch Vice President Mike Pence in 2020. An opinion piece in "The Wall Street Journal" instead suggests that Trump, quote, "deserves a second term," but to have the best chance of re-election, he should replace Vice President Mike Pence on the ticket with Nikki Haley.

[14:40:08] Haley resigned as U.N. ambassador in October with her reputation very much intact and in good graces of the president. And at that time, she made very clear what her 2020 aspirations were.


NIKKI HALEY, FORMER U.N. AMBASSADOR: No, I'm not running for 2020. I can promise you what I'll be doing is campaigning for this one. So I look forward to supporting the president in the next election.


BALDWIN: Andrew Stein founded the Democrats for Trump Movement in 2016. He's also a former president of the New York City Council. He wrote this opinion piece.

Andrew Stein, nice to meet you.

ANDREW STEIN, FOUNDER, DEMOCRATs FOR TRUMP MOVEMENT: Nice to meet you and thanks for having me.

BALDWIN: You got it. So why do you say Nikki Haley on the ticket?

STEIN: Well, because with Nikki Haley on the ticket with Trump, it's an unbeatable ticket. I think Vice President Pence served the president very well in '16 and as vice president I have nothing against him. I think he was a loyal vice president and a very capable man. But I think the president's re-election will hinge to a large extent on whether he can win over those independent and Republican suburban women. And I think with Nikki Haley on the ticket, it's an unbeatable ticket. Unbeatable one.

BALDWIN: You think that -- I mean, President Trump has been accused by I think the count is 16 women, variety of accusations ranging from sexual harassment to, you know, much worse than that, as we have seen recently. And so I'm just wondering, and also in terms of his policies, you know, include family separations at the border, failing to protect equal pay. But despite all of that, do you think these women will come to him just because he puts a woman on this ticket?


BALDWIN: Yes. You do.

STEIN: And I think -- yes, I do. And I think, by the way, he's got a good record with women. You know, the -- the employment numbers show there are more women working now than have ever been in the last 60 years. So women are working. They have jobs. And they're doing well.

BALDWIN: But, Andrew, isn't that kind of sexist to suggest that just because there's a woman on the ticket, then that means women will vote for him?

STEIN: I don't think Nikki Haley is just a woman. I think she's incredibly capable. Both as governor and as a representative of the U.N. She's got experience on the state level, on the national level.

BALDWIN: I don't doubt any of that. I'm just saying, for -- STEIN: And --

BALDWIN: For someone to think that just because you put a woman in a position means all the other women are going to vote for you, could be perceived as sexist.

STEIN: Well, I don't know. All I can say is that if he puts Nikki on the ticket, he'll win.

BALDWIN: Have you floated this by the president himself?

STEIN: I haven't yet, although I'm sure he'll call me later. I haven't because it's my idea. And I didn't want him to be able to say to Pence -- I wanted him to be able to say to Pence that he didn't know about it. So --

BALDWIN: What do you think --

STEIN: It's my idea. And I think it's a great one. And I think it will help reelect him.

BALDWIN: You may very well be right. When your phone rings, Andrew, in an hour or two, what do you think the president will say to this idea?


STEIN: Well, I can't repeat it all on-air. But to sum it up, I think, you know, he'll say, why didn't you check with me, and I'll say, because I wanted you to be able to tell the vice president that we didn't plan this.

BALDWIN: Do you think he'll think it's a good idea?

STEIN: I don't think he'll say it's a good idea. But I think he will definitely think it's a good idea.

BALDWIN: Because he's on the record saying Pence is on his ticket.

STEIN: I understand. But it's a long way between now and the convention.

BALDWIN: Do you think he's cooling on the vice president?

STEIN: Do I think what?

BALDWIN: Do you think he's cooling on him? Do you think he's --

STEIN: No, I think he has a lot of affection for Pence. I don't think he's cooling on him. But I think Nikki Haley adds a dynamism and a breadth to the ticket. And I think -- he'll be unbeatable with her as vice president. I still think he'll win. But I think with her as vice president, I think it's a sure thing.

BALDWIN: Last question, because she was incredibly highly respected governor in the state of South Carolina, of course, went on to be the U.N. ambassador, she was someone, you know, who was known for speaking up and sometimes not always agreeing with the president on everything. And I think she got kudos, you know, and respect from a lot of folks for doing that.

[14:45:03] I'm just wondering if she accepts if in this hypothetical world of this ticket, what's in it for her? What if she has bigger political aspirations? What's in it for Nikki Haley?

STEIN: I'm sure she does have aspirations -- bigger political aspirations. No one, Brooke, turns down the vice presidency. Lyndon Johnson was the most powerful man, being the majority leader of the U.S. Senate. Everyone said he wouldn't take it. But he did in the end with John Kennedy in 1960. Nobody turns it down.

BALDWIN: OK. Andrew Stein.

STEIN: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Let us know how that phone call goes. Thank you very much.

STEIN: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Another woman has come forward with accusations against the president. Hear what E. Jean Carroll told CNN about how Donald Trump she says raped her in a department store dressing room. We'll have the president's response to that.

And we learn a 10th American has died in the Dominican Republic. CNN speaks with one tourist who says she was poisoned in the Dominican Republic. Stand by for that.


[14:50:30] BALDWIN: There has been yet another reported death of an American tourist in the Dominican Republic. New York retiree Victorio Caruso became the 10th American to die either while vacationing on the island or after his or her stay. Police say he died from respiratory failure at a Santo Domingo hospital. His death was also confirmed by U.S. State Department officials. Police say Caruso had been getting medical attention since June 11th and had been in the country since early May. His family told CNN affiliate News 12 Long Island that Caruso died last Monday. An autopsy is pending.

The news of his death comes as the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino said it will remove liquor dispensers from guest room mini bars at its resort in Punta Cana. Two other people died at that resort, but Hard Rock says it made its decision despite those tragedies. And more tourists are telling CNN how they got sick while staying in the Dominican Republic.

Drew Griffin, CNN senior investigative correspondent, reports.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Their story sounds similar to others, a dream trip to the Dominican Republic that ends in serious illness. The trouble for Tina and John Hammell started when they were woken from a nap by a powerful chemical smell in their hotel room.

TINA HAMMELL, SAYS SHE WAS POISONED AT DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: It was so strong that I was burning and coughing and it was very upsetting. But just panic sets in because you don't where this smell is coming from.

GRIFFIN: Tina lost her voice, felt nauseous. The couple moved rooms but Tina's health kept getting worse.

T. HAMMELL: I just remember saying something's not right, something's not right. I don't -- and he said, do I call the doctor? And I said I think so and after that it just quickly, quickly progressed. I'm on -- I'm on the bed and I remember --


T. HAMMELL: I remember my muscles, my hands all turned in and my legs came up. I just was spasming and I lost consciousness.

GRIFFIN: She spent four nights in a hospital in the Dominican Republic where doctors found lesions on her lungs, according to hospital records.

J. HAMMELL: My wife still was having a hard time basically breathing and staying alive.

T. HAMMELL: My muscles, my muscles.

J. HAMMELL: She just kept having these convulsions and they just kept sticking needles into her. You don't want to lose anybody, especially your wife or your children. And there was nothing I could do.

T. HAMMELL: You got me there. You got me there.

GRIFFIN: It's been three years now but Tina says she still has lingering effects. She doesn't know what made her sick. All her doctors in Canada can tell her is something she encountered in the Dominican Republic could have poisoned her.

T. HAMMELL: I never had a breathing problem before. I never had asthma. I never smoked. I -- you know we were healthy.

J. HAMMELL: The first doctor in (INAUDIBLE) was adamant that she had been poisoned. He just said to us in the room, your wife's been poisoned.

GRIFFIN: The Grand Bahia Punta Cana Hotel where the Hammells stayed is run by the same company that operates the Grand Bahia La Romana, where the recent mysterious deaths of three American tourists are under investigation.

And CNN has spoken to dozens of tourists like the Hammells who've gotten extremely sick while on vacation in the Dominican Republic. Many who spoke to CNN believe their symptoms go beyond typical travel related illnesses, though it's unclear what caused them. Several reports smelling a strong chemical odor in their rooms before getting sick. Many say they suffered stomach cramps, diarrhea, and malaise that lasted after they returned home.

CNN previously reported the case of Kaylynn Knull and her boyfriend, Tom Schwander, who both fell ill after smelling chemicals in their room at Bahia La Romana in 2017. According to medical records, their doctors in Colorado think they were exposed to organophosphates, toxic chemicals found in pesticides that poisoned them.

TOM SCHWANDER, BELIEVES HE WAS POISONED AT BAHIA PRINCIPE RESORT: The abdominal cramping and the GI upset lasted for a -- a few weeks.

GRIFFIN (on camera): And you said drooling?

SCHWANDER: Yes, and drooling.


SCHWANDER: Bad sweat, tearing.


SCHWANDER: Dizzy, nauseous. Yes.

[14:55:03] And the abdominal cramping was the worst. That was the hardest symptom to deal with. It was just so much pain.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Bahia Principe Hotels and Resorts says it can't comment on specific allegations but did send a statement to CNN saying, "The safety and comfort of our guests and staff stand at the core of our company values and that we regularly audit all hotels in respect to health and safety and consistently receive high certification scores for hygiene.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.


BALDWIN: Drew, thank you.

Right now the world is watching and waiting. President Trump has just announced new sanctions against Iran, and these are personal.

Plus, 11 people die after a skydiving plane goes down in a fiery crash. What we're learning about the plane's history, coming up.