Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

Trump In D.C. For First Time As Presumptive GOP Nominee; Former Associate: Menendez Used Bell To Summon Wife; Biden And World Leaders Gather For G7 Summit In Italy. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired June 13, 2024 - 05:30   ET




KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: All right, just after 5:30 a.m. here on the East Coast in Washington.

But over in Italy, moments ago, the G7 leaders gathered for their group photo. This just unfolded a few moments ago. We're going to be covering this summit live throughout the morning and we will bring you the latest as it happens. We're waiting for President Biden to meet with Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine. That is on tap for later on this morning.

Good morning, everyone. I'm Kasie Hunt. It's wonderful to have you with us.

Former President Donald Trump is back in Washington, D.C. for the first time since becoming the presumptive Republican nominee and also a convicted felon. He is set to meet with congressional allies. One senior Trump adviser telling CNN the goal is to get everyone on the same page.

But a few Republicans, including Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney just can't make the meeting work with their schedules.


REP. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I leave on a flight. I can't make it.


HUNT: He can't make it.

One noteworthy RSVP yes, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I said three years ago, right after the Capitol was attacked, that I would support our nominee regardless of who it was, including him. I've said earlier this year I support him. He's been -- earned the nomination by the voters all across the country. And, of course, I'll be at the meeting tomorrow. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: "Of course, I'll be at the meeting tomorrow," he says. McConnell has endorsed Trump, as you can see there. The two men have not spoken since the Electoral College certified Joe Biden's victory in 2020.

Joining me now, Associated Press congressional reporter Farnoush Amiri. Farnoush, good morning to you.


HUNT: It's going to be quite a day on Capitol Hill -- near Capitol Hill. He's not -- he's not going to the Capitol itself today to meet with these lawmakers. My understanding is it's the first time since January 6 that he's spoken to this group of people.

What do you expect today?

AMIRI: I mean, yeah. I mean, it's a stunning moment. To make it very clear, he's not going to the actual Capitol, which would be somewhat of a security extravaganza. He is going --

HUNT: Um-hum.

AMIRI: -- to meet at the campaign headquarters for both the Republican Senate campaign headquarters and the Republican House campaign headquarters. And this is the first time he's going to be able to in a public -- in an official setting -- set out what he feels like his four years in office would look like.

Obviously, Republicans seem super-energized about possibly regaining control of the Senate and growing their ranks in the House. Whether that will happen -- the latter will happen, we'll see.

But it is really interesting. I mean, the topics of discussions, according to sources, are reconciliation, are tax cuts, securing Medicare and Social Security.


You know, we all expect -- we've seen the last four years of Trump talking about revenge -- talking about going after Joe Biden. But I think he's going to present to the entire Republican conference on both sides his plan for the future of America.

HUNT: Let's talk for a second about Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump and that relationship. I mean, we played the most recent comments McConnell just made there. But let's just remind everyone what Donald Trump has said about Mitch McConnell over the years. Let's watch.



We do have to do something about Mitch McConnell. He's a disaster.

These Washington Republicans, like Mitch McConnell, is the absolute worst.

I had to fight Mitch McConnell, another beauty.

Mitch McConnell and his wife, Coco Chow -- Coco. We've got to get the McConnells of the world to do their job.


HUNT: He called him a loser, a disaster, the absolute worst, another beauty. And then he misnamed his wife who, by the way, he's also leveled slurs at. His wife -- McConnell's wife is Asian-American. And yet --

AMIRI: Former administration.

HUNT: Former administration. She served Donald Trump in his cabinet --

AMIRI: Yeah.

HUNT: -- and she resigned after -- you know, January 6 was a breaking point for her.

How -- what are the dynamics going to be in the room between these two men?

AMIRI: I mean, Mitch McConnell, as he's mentioned, even as he was saying that the insurrection was directly at the hands of Donald Trump -- that he was at fault.

HUNT: Yeah. And you know what? Let me stop you because we also have what McConnell has said about Donald Trump. Let's play that and we'll continue our conversation -- watch.


MCCONNELL: President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: If Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination would you support him?

MCCONNELL: Look, let me just say again there is simply no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy. Shortly after the attack on the Capitol, I was asked a similar question and I said I would support the nominee for president even if it were the former president.


AMIRI: Yeah. It's amazing what time can do, right? I mean, I think it goes back to say he's right -- he has stuck to his word about regardless of who the nominee will be he would support them. But I think he's seen -- we saw this with the collapse of the border deal.

He knows the political reality that's ahead of them. He's obviously announced that he's not going to be the Republican leader for much longer past November. But he knows that this is the reality. They don't have another choice.

It's a very similar feeling that -- of conversation I've had with Democrats. They know Joe Biden is the presumptive nominee. They know they have to work with him. Whether or not they agree with everything he does is the reality they're in.

HUNT: Yeah. I mean, I will say I think it's a little different in the Trump than the Biden. I take your point.

AMIRI: For sure.

HUNT: But considering what happened on January 6 --


HUNT: -- I'm not sure it's quite the same.

Farnoush Amiri for us this morning. Farnoush, always grateful to have you. Thank you.

AMIRI: Thank you.

HUNT: All right, now this. A critical meeting between Sen. Bob Menendez and a former associate five years ago front and center at the embattled senator's corruption trial. Menendez apparently used a bell to summon his wife.

Jose Uribe providing detailed testimony that is key to the corruption allegations, testifying that Menendez asked him for a list of people to protect from criminal investigations in 2019. But he didn't have anything to write the names down on. So, Menendez called out "mon amour." -- that is "my love" in French -- and then rang a small bell. And that's when his wife Nadine emerged with paper.

Uribe later said that Menendez assured him the people that they discussed were safe from prosecution, telling the court that Menendez said, "That thing you asked me about -- there's nothing there." And on another occasion, "I saved your a-s-s twice. Not once, but twice."

Joining me now is criminal defense attorney Lexie Rigden. Lexie, there is a lot here. What would you pull out of this and underscore for us this morning?

LEXIE RIGDEN, FAMILY AND CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY (via Skype): Well, Kasie, I said weeks ago when we were on that chivalry was dead, and this just confirms it. I mean, he's literally summoning her with a bell to the table. So that was an interesting anecdote that they actually spent a lot of time on.

HUNT: Nothing illegal about that but it sure is -- it sure is something else. Sorry, continue. RIGDEN: Yeah. They spent more time on it I think during the trial than it probably deserved. But I think that it probably underscores the fact that Bob Menendez was trying to paint her, essentially, as the wrongdoer. As the one that was involved in these bribes and that he wasn't really part of it.

But I think that summoning her with a bell and saying, "mon amour," which is so corny and so cringey, as an aside. I think it underscores that she was -- he was actually spearheading this, and she was just along for the ride because he was the one having the meeting. He was summoning her to bring things. But she was at his beck and call literally while he was handling these things.


And also, that would make sense because Nadine doesn't have any influence independently of Bob Menendez. So that's also another important thing that they're going to have to highlight in this trial, which is why would anybody be bribing Nadine to -- just for the sake of bribing Nadine? She is not the one that has the influence. It's her husband who has the influence.

HUNT: Right. And again, we're talking about this because this is kind of the centerpiece of the Menendez defense is that his wife was the one who did all of these things; not him.

So this is how Axios framed Menendez's plan to continue to -- I think we should note he's running for the Senate as an Independent after he was sort of shoved aside from the Democratic primary.

But Democratic sources are telling Axios they think the move by Menendez "could be a ploy to demand favors, such as fundraising for legal expenses in exchange for leaving the race. Menendez scoffs at the notion but his independent campaign has cast a cloud over Democratic efforts to keep the seat blue in November."

Basically, questions being raised about his current conduct as the trial unfolds.

RIGDEN: Well, he's got -- where's there's smoke, there's fire. This is not the first time, as you know, that he has been subject to bribery allegations, and he was acquitted in the first trial.

But I think that the most compelling evidence so far, at least for me, is Uribe is the star witness but he's also somebody who has admitted to lying. And much like in the Trump trial with Michael Cohen, juries can still end up believing somebody who is a liar.

But one of the most important witnesses I think has been the New Jersey federal prosecutor, Sellinger, who also testified about his dealings with Menendez. And while the testimony doesn't sound like Menendez was terribly heavy-handed in their interaction, Menendez personally was bringing up Uribe in terms of his criminal issues and seeing if Sellinger could look into it.

Now, of course, there is a fine line, right? You can ask for help on behalf of your constituents but obviously, if it's a quid pro quo or it crosses the line over into bribery, which this appears to have with the gifts that were given to the Menendez family, that's going to be a problem for him.

HUNT: All right, Lexie Rigden for us this morning. Lexie, very grateful for your time. Thanks for being here.

RIGDEN: Thanks, Kasie.

HUNT: All right. Coming up next, Secretary of State Antony Blinken growing frustrated with stalled Middle East peace talks.

Plus, the Celtics on the brink of winning another NBA battle. Our Bleacher Report is up next.



HUNT: All right, welcome back.

President Biden is in Italy this morning for the G7 summit. Within the last hour, Biden posing for the customary photo op with other G7 leaders. You see them there.

They've got a busy few days ahead of them. At the top of the agenda, securing sustained military aid for Ukraine. The U.S. and Ukraine are expected to sign a bilateral security pact later today. And this will be the second time that Biden is meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in as many weeks after they linked up in France last Friday.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're not going to walk away from you. I apologize for the weeks of not knowing what's going to happen in terms of funding because we had trouble getting the bill that we had to pass and had the money in the -- from some of our very conservative members who were holding it up. But we got done, finally.


HUNT: And joining me now from the G7 summit in Italy is CNN political and national security analyst, David Sanger. He is also the author of "New Cold Wars: China's Rise, Russia's Invasion, and America' Struggle to Defend the West." David, good morning to you. Wonderful to see you as always.

You and your colleagues in The New York Times report this, this morning, that the U.S. is expanding Russian sanctions here in conjunction with this. And you say, "At the heart of the measures is an expansion of 'secondary' sanctions that give the United States the power to blacklist any bank around the world that does business with Russian financial institutions already facing sanctions. This is intended to deter smaller banks, especially in places like China, from helping Russia finance its war effort." Explain why you think this is significant and also, big picture. What we're looking at in terms of the meeting as it occurs with -- I mean, there are Russian warships just miles off the U.S. coast right now engaged in exercises with the Cubans as this is all unfolding in Europe.


Let's start with the big picture. You're going to see three major steps by the G7 and, particularly, by the United States over the next day or two to support Ukraine. They are each very different.

You alluded to one of them, and that's the new sanctions that are basically an effort to stop what has become an increasing Chinese effort to the war in Ukraine on the Russian side supplying technology, microelectronics, drone equipment, and so forth to the Russians.

And that's where the secondary sanctions come in. What the -- what the new sanctions call for is that any financial institution, including in China, that helped provide this to the Ukrainians could no longer deal in dollars around the world. So we'll see whether that works. The Russians have been quite good at sanctions evasion.


The second big thing is the security agreement, which will get announced later today. Here, the Ukrainians are going to hear at the topline that the U.S. is committed for the next 10 years to Ukraine's security. But the fact of the matter is it's just an executive agreement. It's not a treaty. And so, if Donald Trump got elected, he could walk away from it quickly, as he walked away from the Iran nuclear deal that had been signed in 2015 and he abandoned in 2018.

And then the third big piece you're going to see is going after the Russian assets that were kept around the world -- mostly here in Europe. There was $300 billion in European banks during the time of the invasion. And basically, they're going to use that to back a loan of $50 billion or so that the West will provide the Ukraine for rebuilding.

HUNT: David, can I ask you how much of the conversation on the sidelines of this conference, as you've been doing reporting and talking to officials who are there, is about Donald Trump?

SANGER: Well, the entire conference just started an hour ago and, of course, we're kept at some -- removed from it.

But there is sort of an overall sense that many of the leaders who are sitting around the table may not be there in a few months or certainly, by the time they meet next year.

Obviously, President Biden's election fate is still unknown. Prime Minister Sunak of Great Britain is heading into an election that he seems pretty certain to lose. While Emmanuel Macron will remain as president, it's not clear whether or not he'll be able to hold on to a parliamentary majority. So he's another unknown. The chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz, is polling pretty low. So is the Japanese prime minister.

So when this group meets next year, the composition at the table could look pretty different -- and it's not just about Donald Trump.

HUNT: Really, really interesting.

David Sanger for us this morning. David, always grateful to have you. David, I'll remind you, is the author or "New Cold Wars: China's Rise, Russia's Invasion, and America's Struggle to Defend the West." I highly recommend it. David, thank you very much.

SANGER: Thank you.

HUNT: All right, time now for sports. The Boston Celtics a win away from their 18th NBA title.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. Andy, good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yeah, good morning, Kasie.

So this series -- it's a wrap. You know, teams that go up 3-0 in a best-of-seven series in the NBA are 156-0 all-time. So unless the Mavs make some history here, the Celtics will be NBA champions.

Now, the league holding a moment of silence before game three last night to honor the great Jerry West who passed away yesterday at the age of 86.

Now, fast-forward this game to the third quarter and that's when the Celtics went on a massive run. Jaylen Brown here throwing down the monster slam. Brown and Jayson Tatum outscoring Dallas themselves in the third. They would take a 21-lead.

But the Mavs -- they would come all the way back in the fourth. They go on a 22-2 run to get within one. But with a little over four to go, Luka -- here guarding Brown -- gets called for the foul. That was his sixth. The first time ever he's fouled out in playoff game.

The Mavs hanging tough without Luka, but Brown -- the clutch jumper there -- put Boston up for with a minute to go. Brown and Tatum combined for 61.

The Celtics win 106-99 to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.


JAYLEN BROWN, GUARD, BOSTON CELTICS: It's awesome. I mean, I can't -- I don't even really have words. It kind of doesn't even feel real right now and I'm just trying to stay in the moment. Like, you know, it feels great to be up 3-0 in the series but, like, the job is not done. LUKA DONCIC, GUARD, DALLAS MAVERICKS: I don't want to say nothing but, you know, but six fall in the NBA Finals, I'm basically -- I'm like this --

BROWN: Come on, Man.


SCHOLES: Yeah. The Celtics going to go for the sweep tomorrow night in game four in Dallas.

All right. And it was a big Wednesday night for Boston fans as the Patriots honored Tom Brady, inducting him into the team's Hall of Fame last night. More than 60,000 fans were on hand at Gillette Stadium to honor Brady. And the team announcing that number 12 will never be worn by a Patriot again, and they will unveil a 12-foot-tall Brady statue outside the stadium this season.


TOM BRADY, 7-TIME SUPER BOWL CHAMPION WITH NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: You humble me. You make me proud. And I am eternally grateful. I am Tom Brady, and I am a Patriot.



SCHOLES: All right. And the U.S. Open is going to tee off in a matter of hours from Pinehurst, North Carolina. It's going to be a pretty cool day for 29-year-old Colin Prater. So, Prater's day job is a high school science teacher and golf coach, but he qualified to play in this year's U.S. Open and he's making his Major debut.


COLIN PRATER, HIGH SCHOOL SCIENCE TEACHER: I love teaching and I love coaching kids. I love teaching them about the game of golf and building their fundamentals. I love being in the classroom interacting with kids every day.

I'll soak in every single moment, right, and just experience everything and be very much intentional with my surroundings and all the support I receive. And obviously, trying to play some good golf, right? Turn it into it's just another golf tournament. If you work hard enough maybe some day you can -- you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to.


SCHOLES: Yeah, so good luck to Prater today, Kasie. And it's going to be tough out there. They're saying these are some of the toughest greens in Major golf history, so there could be some entertaining golf to watch this coming weekend.

HUNT: Well, it's a beautiful course down there -- Pinehurst. SCHOLES: Yeah.

HUNT: So good luck to him.

Andy Scholes, thank you very much.

SCHOLE: All right.

HUNT: All right. President Biden ruling out a pardon for his son, Hunter, but not necessarily a commutation. We'll tell you what happened and explain the difference ahead. Plus, saving Misty, the dog who fell 30 feet below ground.