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Republicans Welcome Trump Back To Washington; Pope Francis Meets With Comedians At The Vatican; U.S. And Ukraine Sign 10-Year Security Pact. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired June 14, 2024 - 05:30   ET




KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: All right, just after 5:30 here in Washington. A live look at Capitol Hill on this Friday morning. Good morning, everyone. I'm Kasie Hunt. It's wonderful to have you with us.

Donald Trump turns 78 today. He celebrated early in his first return to Washington since becoming a convicted felon. Republican lawmakers welcoming him back with open arms and this surprise tweet -- treat.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I'm going to make a wish and here's what the wish is, and it will have something to do with this room.



HUNT: OK. A closed-door meeting with lawmakers meant to amplify Trump's campaign priorities. They've got 45 and 47 on that cake. Instead, according to multiple GOP members in the room, Trump mostly used the time to air his grievances and attack his critics.

Another early birthday gift, Republicans -- I mean, basically fawning over the former president.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): It was a pep rally environment for President Trump.

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): I saw nothing but overwhelming support for President Trump.

REP. BRANDON WILLIAMS (R-NY): I didn't sense any dissention but, you know, I didn't catch everybody's response either.

REP. MARIA ELVIRA SALAZAR (R-FL): He is the leader of the party, and he happens to be the guy who was chosen by the overwhelming majority of Republicans to be the nominee. Who are we to say no? (END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: Joining me now, congressional reporter for The Hill, Mychael Schnell. Mychael, good morning.


HUNT: So this was clearly a massive show of unity. A couple of people who are Republicans but not on Trump's team were basically absent from the room, right? What else did you learn covering this yesterday?

SCHNELL: It was a lot of pomp and circumstance -- sort of, Republicans very excited to welcome Donald Trump back to the Capitol grounds. As he is now the presumptive nominee, he's on track to receive the nomination next month at the convention.

What I took out from it in terms from the House angle, I thought that an interesting part of it was that it was a really good day for Speaker Mike Johnson --

HUNT: Um-hum.

SCHNELL: -- and there aren't that many days that you can call good when you are the Speaker of the House of a very slim Republican majority.

But Trump endorsed Johnson's leadership in that meeting. We had a number of Republican lawmakers come out afterwards and say that he was -- he praised Johnson's leadership.

And he also -- former President Trump -- urged Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene to be nice to the speaker. Of course, Johnson's top antagonist -- the one who brought that motion to vacate against the speaker last month.

So, Johnson has outwardly said that he wants to lead House Republicans come next Congress. There are a handful of hardline conservatives --

HUNT: Yeah.

SCHNELL: -- who have said they don't want him to. So this was a good vote of confidence for the speaker.

HUNT: Yeah.

Let me pause you just because I want to look -- take a look at these live pictures because these are coming to us right now from Italy. This is President Biden doing a -- having a bilateral meeting with the Italian prime minister is the course of the G7. They're not supposed to speak, but let's listen just for a second and see what they're being asked.


All right, we're seeing the press being ushered out of the room here. That, of course -- you could see a number of Joe Biden's national security officials lined up there.

Mychael, in terms of Ukraine and Capitol Hill, did that come up in this meeting when Donald Trump was here with these lawmakers? Because it has really -- that has been a major point of contention inside the Republican Party. It's very unclear what Donald Trump is going to do about Ukraine, but at the same time, he didn't stand in the way of Mike Johnson pushing that aid package through.

SCHNELL: Yeah, it's a huge point of contention broadly within the Republican Party and then specifically, within the House Republican Conference.

Congressman Matt Gaetz was sort of live tweeting during Trump's meeting with House Republicans and he said that former President Trump was trashing Ukraine aid to Mike Johnson's face, which is something that he celebrated -- lauded in because, of course, Gaetz an opponent of Ukraine aid. Johnson is somebody who muscled through that $61 billion package for Ukraine earlier this year.

So it seems like there was some conversation about it. But again, Republicans didn't really want to focus on what divides them yesterday.

HUNT: Um-hum.

SCHNELL: They wanted to really push that unity message. Because remember, the past year and a half of this Congress has been marked by this Republican chaos a) within the House Republican Conference, and then more broadly speaking, as we see in the Senate, more Republicans be divided on the question of should Trump be president come 2025. So they really wanted to push this unity message yesterday, both in terms of the image of the Republican Party but also to try to showcase what they would do if they get this Republican trifecta come next year.

HUNT: Yeah.

So, speaking of trashing things, you said he trashed the Ukraine aid to Johnson's face. Donald Trump also apparently trashed the city that the Republican Convention is going to be hosted in.

According to Punchbowl News, he said, "Milwaukee, where we are having our convention, is a horrible city." CNN has confirmed that he did, in fact, use the word "horrible" to describe Milwaukee.

Here was the mayor, Cavalier Johnson, on local news in Wisconsin, a critical swing state.

SCHNELL: Um-hum.

HUNT: Watch this.


MAYOR CAVALIER JOHNSON, (D) MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN: Donald Trump wants to talk about things that he thinks are horrible. All of us lived through his presidency, so right back at you, buddy. To insult the state that's hosting your convention I think is kind of -- kind of bizarre, actually. It's kind of unhinged, in a way.


HUNT: Some people were raising the question what's he going to do next? Trash the Packers?

How did this go over?

SCHNELL: So the comment was reported and then as what happens when you have a closed-door meeting where reporters aren't inside -- there's no audio, presumably. There's no video being streamed. Lawmakers tried to play cleanup for the former president, something that we saw plenty during his presidency and something that we could see if he wins the White House in November.

We heard a lot of Republican lawmakers push back and say he wasn't just trashing Milwaukee as a horrible city, but there was context. A number of Republicans saying he was talking about the crime rate in the city. Some say that he was talking about election integrity. But nonetheless, a lot of reporters have pointed out that Republicans weren't exactly aligned on what that context was.

And I'll note sometimes the former president does ramble and goes from point A to point B to point C very quickly. But the explanations for the "horrible city" comment didn't exactly line up. So this caused a lot of outcry. Republicans rush to defend Trump. Democrats, as you saw with that mayor, coming out and saying well, Milwaukee is a great city.

HUNT: Yeah.

SCHNELL: He shouldn't be going against it.

And, of course, you mentioned the two main factors. A) that's where he's going to receive the Republican nomination next months, and b) it's a critical swing state.

HUNT: Yeah.

SCHNELL: So not the best comment that he wants to be making. But nonetheless, Republicans in cleanup mode.

HUNT: Quite literally, every single vote in Wisconsin matters. And, of course, there's the prospect that -- you know, there was reporting yesterday he's preparing to potentially accept the nomination while under house arrest from someplace other than Milwaukee. So there's that, too.

SCHNELL: An unprecedented election.

HUNT: Yeah, for real.

All right, Mychael Schnell, thank you. I really appreciate it.

All right, now this. Pope Francis meeting with some of the world's top comedians this morning at the Vatican. It is being described as the Pope's attempt to engage with pop culture. The guest list included American comedians Jimmy Fallon, Chris Rock, Jim Gaffigan, Conan O'Brien, Stephen Colbert, and yes, Whoopie Goldberg.


Clip from "Sister Act."


HUNT: I love it.

Joining me now to discuss, CNN Vatican correspondent Christopher Lamb. Christopher, good morning. What more can you tell us about this meeting today?

CHRISTOPHER LAMB, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: (Audio gap) comedians in the Vatican with Pope Francis. Big names from the world of comedy from all over the world to meet with the Pope.

And Francis wanted to emphasize to them the importance of having a sense of humor and making people laugh. He said to them, "In the midst of so much gloomy news, you have the power to spread peace and smiles." So he wanted to emphasize the importance of comedy and the value that it has.


The Pope, himself, has a good sense of humor. He likes to crack jokes. He was laughing with Chris Rock and Jimmy Fallon at the end of the -- of the audience.

And you mentioned Whoopie Goldberg. She has met the Pope before and has offered him a cameo role in "Sister Act 3." She said at the end of the meeting with the Pope that it went great and that although she didn't mention the "Sister Act 3" cameo role this time, she's going to email the Pope about it. Apparently, the Pope knows "Sister Act" so we'll see what happens.

HUNT: I mean, you'd have to. You'd have to, right?

The Pope also seemed to have this sort of more serious message for them, kind of saying that in very divided times comedy can bring people together.

What more did he have to say?

LAMB: Yeah. He wanted to say to them that comedy can kind of break down barriers. It can build relationships. It can create spaces of freedom, he said. And that it's really important that humor doesn't denigrate other people but that you can be able to laugh and joke. He even said you can laugh about God, and he mentioned that the Jewish tradition being brilliant at that. So he wanted to emphasize how comedy can build bridges.

I mean, later today, it's going to get more serious for the Pope. He's going to be going to the G7 to address world leaders on things like AI, and migration, and peace.

But Francis is, I think, trying to emphasize that importance of comedy to try and have the kind of whole human approach to dealing with the world's problems.

HUNT: Yeah, really interesting.

All right, Christopher Lamb for us. Christopher, grateful to have you today. Thank you very much.

LAMB: Thank you.

HUNT: All right. Coming up next, President Biden just started his second day of meetings for the G7. We've been seeing live pictures this morning.

Plus, the Florida Panthers one win away from their first Stanley Cup title in franchise history. The Bleacher Report up next.




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You cannot wait us out. You cannot divide us. And we'll be with Ukraine until they prevail in this war.


HUNT: That was President Biden trying to send a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin after signing a 10-year bilateral pact with Ukraine at the G7 summit in Italy. The goal is to provide long-term security to the Ukrainians as they fend off Russian aggression.


BIDEN: The agreement that President Zelenskyy and I just signed also lays out our shared vision for a just peace. A peace rooted in the U.N. charter and the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. A peace with a broad base of support around the world that holds Russia accountable for the damage it has done in this war.


HUNT: The agreement between the U.S. and Ukraine focuses on building up Ukraine's defense and deterrence abilities. Sources, though, tell CNN the pledge is less formal than a traditional treaty, meaning it is not binding for future U.S. administrations. And Donald Trump has yet to say whether he would continue to support -- continue support for Ukraine should he win in November.

Joining me now, David Sanger, CNN political and national security analyst, and also the author of "New Cold Wars." David, always grateful to see you. Walk us through this because clearly, they wanted to send this message. They wanted the symbolism.

But as you write in your piece in the Times this morning, you say, "Buried in the fine print of the security agreement they signed with flair lies this paragraph. 'Either party may terminate this agreement by providing a written notification through diplomatic channels that would take effect six months after.'"

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, AUTHOR, "NEW COLD WARS: CHINA'S RISE, RUSSIA'S INVASION, AND AMERICA'S STRUGGLE TO DEFEND THE WEST": That's absolutely right, Kasie, and that's really the critical thing because this is just an executive agreement. It's not a treaty, which mean it doesn't have to go through U.S. Senate and thus can avoid the kind of fight that you saw the -- just a few months ago over aid to Ukraine.

But the bad news about executive agreements like this is that they can be overturned by the next executive. And that's exactly what former President Trump did in 2018 with the Iran nuclear accord. He simply ripped it up and walked away, and you saw the results. Iran is now probably closer to a weapon than it has ever been.

So the big question would be can you sign a 10-year agreement and get the confidence it's supposed to build when, of course, you can't predict who is going to be president in just 10 months.

HUNT: So, David, can you take us kind of inside or -- I know I asked you this yesterday as the summit was just getting underway -- but the sidelines of this. The reporting that you've been kind of doing around this conference.

How much of that is dominated by the prospect that Donald Trump could become president? I mean, there's so much chatter here also about kind of the relative weakness of this group of leaders, perhaps minus the Italian prime minister who seems to be ascendant. Everyone else kind of facing very difficult political prospects in their home countries.

SANGER: That's right. She's probably the only actually who doesn't have a whole lot to worry about. As you looked around the table there, there was Prime Minister Sunak, who probably will be out of office in about six weeks. You saw Emmanuel Macron, who has just had to call snap elections in France. Olaf Scholz, who has got -- who would wish for President Biden's popularity and approval numbers. Same thing for Prime Minister Kishida of Japan.

So if you're Zelenskyy and you come in and you're meeting this group, you're grateful for all the help you can get and for the $50 billion loan that will be repaid from the proceeds from frozen Russian funds. But you've got no confidence that you'll be looking at anything resembling this group next year on -- when the G7 next meets.


And meanwhile, while they're all discussing the long term, which is deeply important -- you need a strategic plan for Ukraine -- Zelenskyy is worried about his short term. He's got the Russians getting momentum back. He's lost a fair bit of territory and a new battlefront of the -- in the Kharkiv area. And so, suddenly, he's got to worry about whether or not he can hold on over the next six months or so.

So the big question about what they signed yesterday is is it enough and will it last long enough.

HUNT: Yeah.

David, on a different topic, Israel and the war in Gaza -- has that been addressed at all at the G7? I mean, there are sort of these increasing concerns about the Israelis and the front with Lebanon and kind of what that means at this stage. And, of course, we know Hamas seems to be the one standing in the -- in the way of this ceasefire agreement.

SANGER: That's right. So there was one session where President Biden, from what I'm told, essentially brought everybody up to date with what we all know. The proposal that he made two weeks ago, which was essentially the Israeli offer. The fact that the -- that Hamas has come back earlier this week with some minor objections and a couple of major and potentially deal-breaking objections.

I thought it was interesting that the president, who a couple of months ago thought that they had a deal just a few days away, was pretty downbeat when he was asked whether or not he thought a deal was imminent now.

As for Hezbollah and the north -- I mean, this has long been the fear that Israel would get involved in a second front up there. And that is also an area where you're more in direct confrontation with Iranian- backed militias and where Iran has been pouring in a fair bit of arms and so forth. So that's been a significant issue as well.

HUNT: Yeah.

SANGER: But for the president, the most important thing right now is to get the deal that's on the table, and he's putting most of the onus on Hamas for getting in the way.

HUNT: Right.

All right, David Sanger for us this morning. David, always grateful to have you. Thank you so much.

All right, time now for sports. The Florida Panthers now one win away from their first Stanley Cup title in franchise history.

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

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

Well, our hopes and dreams of exciting, thrilling NBA finals and Stanley Cup final appear to be all but over. Like the Celtics, the Panthers taking a 3-0 lead in their series. This is the first time since 1996 that both series have 3-0 leads. And the second period was the difference in this one last night. The Panthers scoring three goals in a six-minute span. And I'll show you one right here that had the Oilers fans just shaking their heads. Stuart Skinner -- he's going to misplay the puck behind the net and Vladimir Tarasenko blasts it home. Edmonton would get two goals in the third, but it just wasn't enough.

The Panthers win 4-3 and are now a win away from their first title ever.


SAM BENNETT, FORWARD, FLORIDA PANTHERS: Every single guy is committed to playing that defense first and that system of coming back and supporting each other and -- you know, that's what you need to have success. So it's really been just a full commitment from the entire group.


SCHOLES: All right. Only one team ever has come back from down 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Final, and that was the 1942 Maple Leafs. Teams up 3-0 are 27-1 all-time.

So there is a chance there, but not in the NBA. Teams up 3-0 in a seven-game series in the NBA, 156-0 all-time. The Celtics -- they're going to go for the sweep tonight in Dallas. Tipoff for that one is at 8:30 Eastern.

All right. Caitlin Clark, meanwhile, another rough night on the hardwood. She scored just seven points while committing seven turnovers in 35 minutes of action. But the Fever did beat Atlanta 91- 84.

Now, before the game, Clark talked about how people are weaponizing her name in order to push their agendas.


CAITLIN CLARK, GUARD, INDIANA FEVER: I think it's disappointing. I think everybody in our world deserves the same amount of respect. The women in our league deserve the same amount of respect. So people should not be using my name to push those agendas. It's disappointing. It's not acceptable.


SCHOLES: All right. Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, coming out hot at the U.S. Open. Rory walking off this birdie putt on 18. He joked that the thought he had left it short. But Rory, a bogie three round at the -- at a Major for the first time in 10 years. That's when he last won a Major. He's five under, tied with Patrick Cantlay for the lead heading into today's second round.

[05:55:10] And finally, the Chiefs receiving their Super Bowl rings last night and, boy, they are super cool. Five hundred twenty-nine diamonds, 38 rubies, and 14.8 carats worth of gems. And look at this. The ring opens up. It has the Super Bowl game-winning play, Tom and Jerry on the top of it. The bottom has the field with some gold confetti pieces floating around.

I'll tell you what, Kasie. I've seen a lot of championship rings. I really like this one.

HUNT: I mean, that is some bling right there.

SCHOLES: It certainly is.

HUNT: I've got to -- yeah, very, very nice.

All right, great way to wrap up a Friday. Andy, thank you very much.

SCHOLES: All right.

HUNT: Have a great weekend.

Coming up next, the handshake. Mitch McConnell falling in line with the rest of the Republicans behind Donald Trump. We're going to talk about that and the state of the GOP with Florida Republican Congressman Cory Mills. That's ahead.