Return to Transcripts main page
President Biden Speaks at the NATO Summit; Pat Cipollone Subpoenaed. Aired 9:30-10a ET
Aired June 30, 2022 - 09:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The prime minister of Sweden, a woman, in a country with a feminist foreign policy, expressed deep sadness.
The prime minister of Spain expressed deep concern for that and for the peril and threat that American democracy is under. These have been expressed in these NATO and G-7 meetings. And it's really important because the world looks to the United States for those kinds of examples.
And let us just not forget that I've covered repressive regimes who have set back women's rights throughout my career. Never in the history of women's rights in America have we seen such a reversal in a developed country. It just hasn't happened. And the rest of the world is watching this very, very closely as America talks about, you know, shoring up democracy abroad, it really has to happen at home as well, particularly for women's rights.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN ANCHOR: Prime Minister Boris Johnson also called it a big step backwards. It's very unusual for him to weigh in on U.S. policy like that.
SCIUTTO: President Biden clearly shares the outrage that -- describing it in those terms, the outrageous behavior he described the Supreme Court and described it as a destabilizing factor in his country.
Gloria, Kasie Hunt, Evan Osnos, David Axelrod, also with us here.
And, David, this is a NATO summit where the president is leaving with something. He wanted to expand NATO. And he got that agreement. I think we can put a map up on the screen to show the significance of Finland and Sweden joining the alliance. It greatly expands the territory of NATO, more than doubles the border between NATO and Russia. This is a consequential event in the history of the alliance.
So, you see a president, David Axelrod, with some accomplishments abroad here, but at home reeling on multiple fronts and that's showing in his approval rating.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. SCIUTTO: Do successes here make a difference for his standing at home?
AXELROD: You know, Jim, probably not, but there's a subtext to his opening statement and the robust delivery of it. He wanted to show that he's a leader. He wanted to show strength and the ability to move events, because there are so many things going on in our domestic politics that are seemingly beyond his ability to command events.
The problem he has is, while I think Americans are very, very sympathetic and supportive of Ukraine and Putin is for sure a great foe and villain to confront, these aren't -- Ukraine is not the kitchen table issue that people are talking about. Now abortion rights are part of that discussion. Certainly, inflation day to day. And these are the issues that Americans are looking for action on.
And you could see, when the president got into those questions, gas prices and inflation and abortion rights, there was a lot less of that certainty, a lot less of that emphatic nature of his initial presentation on NATO because he doesn't have great answers.
WARD: Especially on that issue of the oil price cap, and he said, you know, the mechanism for implementing that hasn't quite been sort of formalized yet, but hopefully it will have a positive impact on the prices.
I mean, Gloria, we talked earlier again about this low approval rating, 38 percent, I believe, according to the latest CNN poll.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
WARD: You know, the president seemed to project, you know, strength, competence, unity, respect on the world stage at this press conference. But I just wonder, how you think it will - how do you think it will be perceived in the U.S. and among voters and did he make a sufficient case, I wonder, for why Americans should continue to talk about Ukraine? He talked about how the impact has been on Putin, but did he make a strong enough case for why Americans need to care, and need to keep investing in this?
BORGER: Well, I think he's got to do that when he gets home. I don't think that's what this press conference was about. But let me say that on domestic politics, when the president came out today and said, quite strikingly, that he is willing to do a carveout in the filibuster for Roe and the right to privacy, it will be huge news here because this is a president who has been very unwilling so far to talk about what has to happen to the filibuster.
He is, you know, an old timer from the Senate, was in the Senate for 36 years, and appreciates the virtues of the filibuster, shall we say.
And at this point, for him to come out and say that, is a very big deal from this White House. The question, of course, now, is whether he can convince Democrats, a couple of Democrats, Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, to go along with him on that and say, look, we really have to get this done.
BORGER: I think that what he is saying to the American public here is, this is a life-changing issue for many Americans, mostly women, but also men, and I hear you and I understand this, and it is destabilizing.
And so I think to hear him say that is very, very important in this country, because, as president, he can't just wave a wand and codify something into law. So, he knows he needs the Congress.
But this is really important because it's the first time we've heard the president just touch on the filibuster and say, you know what, I'm willing to do away with that rule, which I respect, for these -- for this issue because it is so important.
SCIUTTO: Yes, no question. And perhaps a departure from Biden, the institutionalist, if he were to follow through.
SCIUTTO: And, as you note, as you note, Gloria, he needs Democratic votes to make that happen when it's not clear that he has those.
SCIUTTO: Go back briefly to Kaitlan Collins for a moment here. I understand you have some new reporting, Kaitlan.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the other thing, of course, so much of this press conference was not just focused on what happened here at NATO, but also on the domestic audience. Obviously, abortion, a huge topic there. Something that world leaders here have commented on, but other - the other obvious one is gas prices at home. And the president went out of his way several times to point out that a lot of the nations here are dealing with inflation as well. They're dealing with higher prices. He said it's less inflation in the United States than it is with some of his counterparts who were here dealing with that.
And he was asked about that upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia, which is only going to happen about two and a half weeks from now after he returns home to Washington. And he was asked specifically if he is going to ask Saudi leaders to pump more oil in order to help lower gas prices, not just on a global stage, but also on the domestic level at home. And the president said he is not going to ask Saudi officials outright for that. He said he is going to Saudi Arabia, but he says that is not the intent.
He also downplayed the idea of being really one on one in meetings with this crown prince. Obviously, the reason that's such a contentious issue is given the intelligence community has assessed he ordered the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. And the president was talking then about meeting with him potentially in a wider setting, but was saying why he is going to Saudi Arabia is not just about Saudi Arabia. Of course, there is a hard reality that, yes, he is facing these higher gas prices, and that is something that is going to be definitely on the table while he's there. But it was notable he said he will not ask Saudi leaders to pump more oil.
SCIUTTO: Yes. He said that the trip largely focused on Israel and its position in the region, that that's going to be his focus as he travels there.
WARD: I thought it was interesting as well he talked about selling Turkey those F-16s and how he thinks it should happen. There have been a lot of speculation as to whether the Biden administration may have given Erdogan a nudge to try to get him to accept Finland and Sweden to join NATO.
WARD: Evan, you know, at the top of the press conference, we heard the president talk quite a bit about China as well. He really wanted to emphasize that China is what -- I believe he called it a systemic challenge.
WARD: And I guess the question becomes, is it possible for the U.S. to balance both the massive threat that it obviously sees Russia as posing, and also this significant systemic challenge at the same time given all of Biden's domestic challenges at home?
EVAN OSNOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, he has a full plate. But I think the theme that you hear across a range of issues, both domestic and foreign, is the idea that he knows that he cannot afford not to take action. I mean if there's one word that comes to the top, it's him wanting the American public to see from him that he's doing things.
Look, in the poll that the AP mentioned in their question, one of the things that came to the surface was, people feel helpless. They feel a bit as if history is moving beyond our grasp. You know, Putin is making moves. The Supreme Court is doing things. People feel as if they don't have a hand in that.
And there are things that Joe Biden cannot fix. There is no magic wand. But he needed to come out of this, by giving people some sense that there is movement on the ground. For instance, the fact that he's moving on this issue of the filibuster. Look, it's easy to forget, just a couple of years ago you would not have heard him talk about carveouts and the filibuster. Now he's done it not only for voting rights but also perhaps not just for abortion but for a range of privacy issues.
And I think, look, when he points the finger at the Supreme Court, one of the only institutions in America right now that has a lower approval rating than the president, it is him also making clear that he's prepared to fight. And that is -- that was a theme that you heard across a number of the things. He -- Russia, Russia, Russia, he said, Supreme Court's conduct is absolutely outrageous and China, to don't get any ideas.
And the truth is that by identifying China today, it actually could free up American resources by marshaling European allies to that issue, getting them to begin to dedicate more of their resources to Asia than they are now.
SCIUTTO: And there's a reason the leaders of South Korea and Japan were here too.
And the first time those two leader have gotten together themselves in three years, but meeting with the president because this alliance looking not just to China, but also to threats from North Korea.
Christiane, before we go, it strikes me that this could have been much worse, right? That three months ago, at the start of the invasion, the U.S. intelligence believed it was going to be over in a few days. It's not. Ukraine is suffering enormously, but it's fighting. And Russia has been - has had to retreat from some areas.
The alliance is more united. It's getting bigger. The U.S. is sending weapons perhaps not quickly enough from the Ukrainians view, but they're sending more. And the president just - just announced $800 million in new aid.
Is Putin watching events here in Madrid with any level of concern? Does he look and say, wait a second, I might have a problem here?
AMANPOUR: Well, you know, long-term probably. But, again, I think he looks and he says now and he's acting as if he's now, you know, swaggering back in public again. You know, he's been pretty much kind of not himself, let's say, over the last several months. He's been, you know, raging in his so-called Kremlin bunker and now he's out and about looking a lot more confident. Why? We have to ask ourselves why. It's not just an act. And I think the absolute test of all of this is that Ukraine has to win. It's really simple. And I'm just quoting President Biden and all the other, you know, NATO leaders. If Ukraine does not win, and it is within the purview of the United States and NATO governments to make sure that happens, if it doesn't, our entire way of life, our entire set of values, our entire adherence to the international rules-based order and our ability to confront other challenges, like China, is really compromised on a massive, massive scale.
AMANPOUR: And, again, I would also say that as a - you know, as a conclusion, American democracy and the state of American's -- women's rights are being really looked at, not just by the rest of the west, as these meetings are happening, but by the rest of the world. You think the Taliban are going to actually say, oh, yes, we're going to adhere to what you tell us for recognition based on what, you know, on what we do about women. This is really serious, this moment, for American women and for America's ability to hold its head up as a democracy that respects the rights of every constituent. SCIUTTO: Crucial. So crucial to U.S. soft power around the world,
right? Protection of rights at home, how the system works at home and there are real challenges.
Christiane, David Axelrod, Kaitlan Collins, Kasie Hunt, Gloria Borger, Evan Osnos, thanks so much to all of you.
So much to digest here. We'll be back shortly.
But, meantime, I want to toss back to my colleague, Poppy Harlow, in New York.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, guys. Great coverage and so many significant headlines out of that presser.
Jim, Clarissa, we'll get back to you in just a minute.
We're following a big development here from the January 6th committee. It has subpoenaed former Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, who has key details about what the former president was doing on January 6th as that mob attacked the Capitol. Hear next how he's responding.
And at the top of the hour, the Supreme Court will issue its final two opinions of a term that, as we were just discussing, has changed the landscape of our country and the world's view of our nation. These cases dealing today that will be decided on immigration policy and climate change will also have wide ranging implications beyond those two topics. Our special live coverage is next.
HARLOW: New this morning, the January 6th committee issuing a subpoena to former President Trump's White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. You've heard his name a lot this week, for good reason.
This comes just a day after the explosive testimony from former White House Aide Cassidy Hutchinson. She laid out several key details, including the moment she says Cipollone warned that if then President Trump marched down to the Capitol with the rioters, they would be facing serious legal consequences.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO TRUMP WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: Mr. Cipollone said something to the effect of, please make sure we don't go up to the Capitol, Cassidy. Keep in touch with me. We're going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): And do you remember which crimes Mr. Cipollone was concerned with? HUTCHINSON: In the days leading up to the 6th, we had conversations
about potentially obstructing justice or defrauding the electoral count.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Our Melanie Zanona joins me from The Hill.
Question now is, will he comply with the subpoena? Do you have any reporting on that?
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, well, sources tell my colleagues that Pat Cipollone is likely to comply in some capacity, likely more a transcribed deposition, as opposed to a taped interview. And he has already had informal talks with the select committee. Committee members said that they still want him to come forward and talk on the record.
Now, he could try to claim executive privilege when it comes to his conversations with Trump. He was the president's lawyer after all. But he was also privy to so many other key conversations and episodes, particularly on January 6th.
Cassidy Hutchinson testified this week that he was warning that there would be blood on their hands and they would be charged with every crime imaginable if they let Trump go to the Capitol on January 6th. And Cassidy also said she overheard a conversation in which Pat Cipollone was telling Mark Meadows that Trump needed to do something to calm down the rioters as they were breaching the building because they were chanting "hang Mike Pence." And Mark Meadows' response was, well, you heard him, Pat, Trump think Mike deserves it.
So, really he can corroborate key elements of Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony, which was quite explosive and even some former Trump officials are starting to recognize that. Just take a listen to what Mick Mulvaney, the former acting chief of staff, had to say yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK MULVANEY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF: I never really thought until yesterday that he was even capable of inciting the riot. But if he knew those weapons were there and said, they're not here for me, let's go down to the Capitol, that is problematic for the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZANONA: So, the potential legal ramifications for Trump and his allies are really starting to come into public view. But it's very clear, Poppy, that the select committee's work is still ongoing.
HARLOW: Very much so, and maybe some of their most important answers still to come.
Melanie, great reporting on this today and all week. Thanks very much.
Let's discuss with CNN chief legal analyst, former federal prosecutor, Jeffrey Toobin.
So, I mean, no surprise that Cipollone would likely to comply. He's a lawyer. She should comply with these. But a lot of folks haven't so far.
I just wonder how far his privilege would go. Would he be able to -- if they're going to limit the scope of this questioning, would he be able to cite privilege on any direct conversations with the president?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, this is actually a complicated question because he's a government lawyer, he's not a private lawyer.
HARLOW: Not the president's lawyer.
TOOBIN: Now, it's very clear that a private lawyer, in communication with his client about legal matters, that's privileged and there's no -- there would really be no debate about that. There's been a lot of litigation over the years about what government lawyers have as a privilege. And the answer is, it's not clear.
However, what is clear is that this committee does not have time to litigate this question anyway. So, the real-world answer to all of this is that Cipollone is going to answer the questions he wants to answer, and that's the end of the story. I mean he has all the power here because the threat of litigation is just completely hollow. This committee, at a minimum, is going to go out of business in November, it seems. But even then you couldn't get a resolution. So, you can get a resolution in court. So Cipollone is going to decide how much he wants to answer.
And I think what is clear is if he is part of a group discussion not involving the president, he should be able to answer those questions.
TOOBIN: And he will also answer whether he wants to answer on audio or just with a transcribed interview.
HARLOW: But, by the way, I mean I understand it's been litigated over and over and no clear answer, but the reality is, when you're working for the White House as an attorney, you're working for the American people. And if they're answers that are so crucial to our democracy, they should be answered.
TOOBIN: Fair point.
HARLOW: All right, let's listen to Liz Cheney speaking about our democracy and the future of our democracy in this powerful speech last night. Here she was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We are confronting a domestic threat that we have never faced before. And that is a former president who is attempting to unravel the foundations of our constitutional republic. And he is aided by Republican leaders and elected officials who made themselves willing hostages to this dangerous and irrational man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: I wonder what you made of that moment.
TOOBIN: You know, Liz Cheney is doing something that I have almost never seen in a politician. She is doing something that will cost her, her job, period. I mean if you look at the polls in Wyoming, she's way behind for the Republican nomination. And, you know, you talk about political courage, that is political courage. And it is very, very rare in Washington or anywhere else. And it's hard to argue with what she has to say there. But I just think about, you know, politicians doing something that will cost them their job, they almost never do. She's doing it.
HARLOW: Yes, she's doing it.
Very quickly, Kevin McCarthy is finally publicly reacting to Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony, saying it's all hearsay, it would never be allowed in court. Let's remember, McCarthy has not agreed to answer questions for this -- to this committee. And, by the way, is he right about that claim? He's wrong, right?
TOOBIN: And it's -- he's wrong. He's wrong. I mean, you know, the conversation about what went on in the SUV where the president was riding, whether he lunged for the steering wheel or not, that was hearsay, as Hutchinson herself acknowledged. She didn't say she saw it. But much of the rest of her testimony is about events and conversations that she was part of.
TOOBIN: So it was not hearsay at all. So, it is both wrong and cowardly that he feels free to criticize other witnesses, but he's not testifying himself.
HARLOW: Right, and not answering their questions himself.
Jeffrey, thank you. Stick around. We have Supreme Court decisions in just a few minutes. Just five minutes from now the Supreme Court will issue its final two rulings in what has been a momentous term by any measure, immigration and climate change on the docket. But these decisions have broad implications about the power of the executive branch. Our live coverage continues next.
HARLOW: It's the top of the hour. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto reporting from the NATO summit in Madrid,
Just moments ago, President Biden finished up a major news conference here in Spain. He addressed the expansion of NATO. Also announced an additional $800 million in new military aid to Ukraine, including offensive weapons, he says.
He also made some news on abortion, saying that he would accept an exception, a carveout to the filibuster to protect