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Trump Expected To Withdraw From Deal Today; E.U. Chief: China Ready To Fill U.S. "Leadership Vacuum"; How Will Markets React To Trump's Climate Decision? Aired 9-9:30a ET
Aired June 1, 2017 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:00:01] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: An inspiration to us all, not just the "Good Stuff" but the both of you. Thank you so much. A lot of news, let's get right to it.
Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Poppy Harlow. New this morning, the President invokes a certain kind of executive privilege, the privilege to tweet whatever he wants whenever he wants, even in the days before what could be the most significant congressional testimony since Watergate.
A source tells us at CNN that former FBI Director James Comey will likely testify publicly for the first time since he was fired as early as next week. And our reporting is that he is expected to confirm that President Trump pressured him to end the investigation of Michael Flynn.
BERMAN: So the big question this morning centers around the real kind of executive privilege. Will the President try to block Comey's testimony by suggesting that their conversations were protected?
All that plus Attorney General Jeff Sessions facing new scrutiny and new questions over whether he failed to disclose another possible meeting with the Russian Ambassador during the campaign. And the President facing backlash this morning over his likely imminent announcement to withdraw from the Paris climate deal.
We are covering all the angles. Let's begin at the White House with CNN Senior Washington Correspondent Joe Johns. Joe, a lot going on today.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's for sure. And the thing we're watching the most is the President expected in the Rose Garden this afternoon to announce his decision on the Paris climate agreement.
Sources have told CNN he's expected to withdraw the United States from that agreement. However, the President certainly has changed his mind before, and all bets are off on what's going to happen there.
Meanwhile, the one thing playing in the background here at all times is all things related to the Russia investigation. Former FBI Director James Comey expected to testify on Capitol Hill about his conversations with the President of the United States and the memos he wrote about those conversations. Of course, that could occur any time sometime next week.
Another thing going on, the FBI looking more closely at an April 27th gathering at the Mayflower Hotel right here in Washington, D.C. And there are new questions about whether the former senator, now Attorney General, Jeff Sessions may have had an undisclosed meeting with the Russian Ambassador there.
Here at the White House, they appear to be hunkering down just a little bit, giving every indication that they intend to refer all questions about the Russia investigation from now on to the President's attorney. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did the President engage in obstruction of justice?
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We are focused on the President's agenda, and going forward, all questions on these matters will be referred to outside counsel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: Yes. And the big question also is whether the President will keep with that because we know he is prone to tweet about the Russia investigation. Back to you.
BERMAN: Yes, we have seen that from time to time, even again this morning after that comment from Sean Spicer. Joe Johns, at the White House, thanks so much.
We have major developments this morning on Capitol Hill as well. The House Intelligence Committee has issued subpoenas to Michael Flynn and President Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, as part of its probe into the Russian election meddling.
HARLOW: And of these seven subpoenas that have been issued so far, three of them, we've now learned, have come directly from the man you see on your screen. That is Devin Nunes. And those three subpoenas are seeking information about unmasking requests by the Obama administration. Now, Nunes supposedly stepped totally aside from all things Russia investigations.
Suzanne Malveaux is on Capitol Hill with more. So if he stepped aside from all things Russia, how is he justifying issuing these subpoenas?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, he is simply saying, as he has said before, that this is a temporary thing that he temporarily stepped aside, that he did not officially recuse himself. That is not something that's going very well over with Democrats.
But as you had mentioned before, what we are seeing here is a committee, the House Intelligence Committee, that cannot even agree on what they are investigating. Those four subpoenas, on one side, signed off by Democrats and Republicans that are focusing on Russia's meddling in the 2016 election.
On the other side, you have those three subpoenas unilaterally issued by Nunes himself focusing on Obama administration officials, those from the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, people like Susan Rice, Samantha Power, as well as the former CIA Director John Brennan. That focusing on leaks and the unmasking of these officials.
And so you see where this is going here, not even an agreement among the committee in terms of what they are really tasked to do. We also heard, Poppy, from the President himself weighing in this morning on this debate in a tweet, saying here that, "The big story is the unmasking and surveillance of people that took place during the Obama administration."
BERMAN: OK. Suzanne Malveaux for us on Capitol Hill. Again, seeing the President, even after Sean Spicer saying all things will be referred to the outside counsel, the President still weighing in on this investigation. Let's discuss.
[09:05:08] Joining us, Susan Page, the Washington bureau chief for "USA Today"; David Drucker, CNN political analyst, senior congressional correspondent for the "Washington Examiner"; and Mary Katharine Ham, CNN political commentator, senior writer for "The Federalist."
Susan Page, I want to start with you. Looking ahead towards the James Comey testimony, we think this will be hugely consequential. "The New York Times" writes this morning one of the most important questions right now, is that putting the highly anticipated hearing on the calendar would force Mr. Trump to decide whether to invoke executive privilege and try to prevent Mr. Comey from testifying.
Now, we're not lawyers. Leaving aside the legal discussions about executive privilege, what would be the political implications if the President tried to invoke executive privilege here?
SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, USA TODAY: I think the political implications would be, it would look like he had something he was trying to hide. Because the fact is, the President has talked in tweets about his dealings with then Director Comey. Comey has talked about them. I mean, we've had reports about what Comey reported and recorded in the memo he did right after the meetings he had with the President.
So there is a lot of conversation out there already about what happened in the meetings between the President and the FBI Director. And if the President, in the wake of all that talk, including talk by himself that he didn't want him to testify, I think it would leave the impression among many that there was something he didn't want to see come out.
HARLOW: Because, Mary Katharine, he had no problem talking about it multiple times in a memo about why he fired Comey, but then also in this NBC interview. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He said it once at dinner and then he said it twice during phone calls.
LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Did you call him?
TRUMP: In one case, I called him. In one case, he called me.
HOLT: And did you ask, am I under investigation?
TRUMP: I actually asked him, yes. I said, if it's possible, would you let me know, am I under investigation? He said you are not under investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Details about the conversation. Does this show, Mary Katharine, that the President's lack of discipline in messaging himself could actually be his own worst enemy? Because it may actually mean that the White House cannot invoke executive privilege if they choose to try to do so.
MARY KATHARINE HAM, SENIOR WRITER, THE FEDERALIST: Yes. I mean, I think we have to wait to see on this if he is interested in this at all. Certainly, executive privilege to keep a guy he doesn't like from testifying in front of Congress sounds like something Donald Trump would like, but I don't think he's made that decision. And, yes, it would be a difficult argument for him to make after he's talked about this, but he also doesn't care about that.
What's interesting to me about the Comey testimony is that he has this very close relationship with Mueller, who is the guy who keeps things very quiet and professional, and Comey is going to go out in public and be talking about some of the things that Mueller is investigating. And I wonder what that tension looks like and what Comey wants to be talking about in public to preserve what Mueller is doing over here.
BERMAN: Yes. You wonder what conversations they've had and what the parameters are, if Mueller has given him parameters, about what he can and cannot say. It's certainly an open question.
David Drucker, on the subject of what the President is saying. Suzanne Malveaux reported the President was on Twitter this morning, saying "The big story is the unmasking and surveillance of people that took place during the Obama administration."
This may be not surprisingly, may be not coincidentally at all, follows Devin Nunes, a close ally of the White House issuing subpoenas for any information about unmasking from Susan Power, Susan Rice, John Brennan.
You know Devin Nunes. You report on him. You get a sense of what he's doing here. He sort of separated himself from the investigation. Now, he's issuing subpoenas. What's going on here with the Chairman? DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON
EXAMINER: Yes, look, I'm not surprised. First of all, we need to step back for a minute and understand that Chairman Nunes was exercised about the unmasking issues going all the way back to January or February when the stories about Michael Flynn first broke, and everybody was wondering where the leaks might have come from.
So this is something he's honed in on from the beginning. In my conversations with him recently, he stressed to me, as he did to CNN, that he never officially recused himself from the Russia investigation, number one. And he made that point to me, that he stepped back and allowed Michael Conway and others to sort of take the lead, but that he never officially recused and so he still had the ability to monitor the information and to participate in the investigation.
But this is something that, I think, has been building with him, where he has been frustrated for several months about the issue of unmasking. He feels like there is something there to investigate, and he believes that there is something there that he is going to uncover. And so I'm not surprised that he's issued these subpoenas.
Remember, he stepped away, John and Poppy, from the investigation because of ethics charges that were brought against him, and he didn't want members of the Committee and other Republicans to have to deal with the sort of negative press surrounding this. But he thinks that this is all bogus.
He doesn't think it is right or fair, and so, I think, he's decided to push ahead with this and not allow what he believes is a second investigation that needs to be conducted, delayed, or sort of pushed under the rug simply because people are trying to sideline him for what he believes are political reasons.
[09:10:01] HARLOW: And then other people would point to what he's done and say that's trying to sideline or muddy the waters --
HARLOW: -- issuing these subpoenas at the exact same time that the others were issued.
Mary Katharine, we have to get your beat on Hillary Clinton speaking very openly, very candidly on stage at this conference. She really pointed her finger at the DNC. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, I take responsibility for every decision I made but that's not why I lost. So I think it is important that we learn the real lessons from this last campaign. I get the nomination. So I'm now the nominee of the Democratic Party. I inherit nothing from the Democratic Party.
WALT MOSSBERG, PRINCIPAL TECHNOLOGY COLUMNIST, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: What do you mean nothing? CLINTON: I mean it was bankrupt. It was on the verge of insolvency.
Its data was mediocre to poor, nonexistent, wrong. I had to inject money into it.
MOSSBERG: This is the DNC, you're saying.
CLINTON: The DNC, to keep it going.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: He had to check and make sure she was talking about the DNC.
HARLOW: Oh, you could tell, Walt Mossberg there is like, what did you just say? Are you blaming them? Mary Katharine, what do you think?
HAM: Yes. Sorry, data folks on the left, of which there are many who do competent work. Yes, look, I think that first sentence says it all, "I take responsibility for all my actions but that's not why I lost."
She's not actually taking responsibility for her actions, and I don't think that this is particularly constructive for the Democratic Party, moving forward. I'm not sure she's particularly interested in that. She's interested in rehashing this. And every time I'm sort of confused about how it is that Donald Trump won in this strange election, she comes out and talks and reminds me why that might have happened.
BERMAN: It's interesting, though, Susan Page, because Clinton defenders will say, look, she did an event where she agreed to answer questions and the questions are about the campaign and she's just answering them honestly.
BERMAN: And I do understand what Mary Katharine is saying. It ends up being a rehash of past events, but is there a better answer? Should she just say, I'm not going to talk about the past, I'm going to talk about the future?
PAGE: Well, you know, I think the problem is, seven months after the election, she is still relitigating why she lost and with a great sense of grievance and, as Mary Katharine said, with an apparent unwillingness to think her own actions, including the first decision made to use a private e-mail server as Secretary of State, to not acknowledge that that was perhaps the biggest single factor that bedeviled her campaign, which turned out to be unsuccessful.
I don't quite understand. Taking this tone and rehashing these issues, I'm sure it doesn't do the Democrats any good. I'm not sure it does her any good either. It doesn't make her look like someone who has figured out, dealt with whatever the personal issues are.
PAGE: Moving on to deal with and talk about the issues that face the country and how they ought to be addressed in a way different from the Trump administration, that would be the kind of positive, constructive conversation I think Americans would respect and might contribute to a dialogue about what Democrats are going to stand for, going forward.
HARLOW: All right, guys. Thank you very much, Susan Page, David Drucker, Mary Katharine Ham.
We have a lot ahead this hour. This morning, last minute pleas and an urgent warning from world leaders as President Trump gears up to announce his decision on climate change today. Our reporting is that he will pull the U.S. out.
Plus, late night tweets, Twitter wars, and sources telling us the President is withdrawing. What's really going on inside the White House?
BERMAN: And the Ohio Attorney General says five drug makers fuel the opioid epidemic by tricking doctors into prescribing medications, so now he is suing. And in minutes, he'll be talking to us.
HARLOW: In hours, President Trump is expected to make big waves in the global community when we do expect that he will announce this afternoon that the U.S. is withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord. A move that would isolate the United States from every developed economy in the world when it comes to fighting climate change.
BERMAN: This morning world leaders are urging, even warning the president to keep the United States in its leadership role. CNN Frederik Pleitgen live in London with some of the remarkable response this morning -- Fred.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, some really remarkable responses. I can tell you guys from sort of seeing the political climate here in Europe, it is quite charged and there are a lot of leaders here in Europe who are pleading with the president to stay inside that climate agreement.
But there is others who are actually threatening him and the U.S. saying, look, if you do this, you will be isolated internationally. There was the head of the European Commission who came out and had some very, very strong words. Let's listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: We explained to Mr. Trump in Taormina that it would not be good for the world or the United States if America was to literally step off the world stage because the vacuum will be filled and the Chinese are in prime position to take on a leadership role.
(END VIDEO CLIP) PLEITGEN: So there you have it, him saying that the Chinese are looking to fill in a leadership role, probably not just on climates but other issues as well. As fate would have it, the Chinese prime minister is actually in Europe as we speak meeting first with Europe's largest economy, with Angela Merkel of Germany, and then later with the European Union.
He had some pretty choice words as well about climate change, real central to his visit here saying, "Climate change is a global challenge no country can develop outside this issue." So clearly it is a big issue here in this visit and one with the Europeans and the Chinese are already talking about broadening cooperation.
And that's certainly something that really looks as though America might be on the fringes if indeed the U.S. decides to exit that agreement, guys.
HARLOW: Frederik Pleitgen in London, thank you for the reporting. Joining us now to talk about it, former brigadier general and best- selling author of "The Siege," Tony Tata, and David Rohde, CNN global affairs analyst, an online news director at the "New Yorker."
Nice to have you both here. David, let me begin with you. These are terse warnings, to say the least, from global leaders, Angela Merkel, Jean-Claude Juncker, you know, the head of the European Commission.
Not only did he say China will fill the vacuum. He also said, you know, the law is the law. Everyone must adhere to it. Not everything that is written into international agreements is fake news.
DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: It is true in terms of the isolation. You put up that graphic. So if Trump withdraws, the only three countries that won't be part of this accord are Syria, Nicaragua and the United States. Every other country in the world will be part of this. The important thing about the Europeans is actually jobs. The European Union is by far our largest trading partner.
[09:20:05]President Trump wants to renegotiate trade deals with them. You know, doing this will embolden Europeans to refuse to negotiate those new deals and maybe cut American jobs.
HARLOW: So it will hurt U.S. jobs?
ROHDE: Absolutely. And the Europeans are really angry about this. The meetings did not go well during the president's trip and they will push back on trade now.
BERMAN: General, you know, there are U.S. military officials who say there is a military imperative here, a defense imperative when it comes to climate change. Secretary of Defense James Mattis in his confirmation hearing said climate change could be a driver of instability and the Department of Defense must pay attention to potential adverse impact generated by this phenomenon. If the president or when perhaps the president pulls out of the Paris climate deal, is that him ignoring that advice? BRIG. GENERAL ANTHONY TATA, U.S. ARMY (RETIRED): I think, John, really paying attention to and then assigning or resigning the Paris Accord. What the president I think is looking at is what's fair for the United States when it's really a nonbinding agreement and what is going to hold all the other nations accountable.
If you remember the Kyoto treaty that was a binding agreement, but the Congress did not support it and, so, the Paris Accord was written so that Congress would support it and there is no teeth to it. And, so, I think --
BERMAN: Well, it is not binding. By the way --
HARLOW: It wasn't written because they knew they couldn't get it through the Senate.
BERMAN: So you're saying it is nonbinding so pull out of it because it is not enforceable anyway?
TATA: Right. So who is going to make the other countries cowboy up and do what they need to do and we're going to spend billions on it.
HARLOW: To be fair, that's not why the president says -- has been critical of it. He hasn't said that it's because it is nonbinding. He said because it's going to cost, he thinks, millions of jobs.
TATA: Well, I think that and --
HARLOW: So is he ignoring his own Pentagon? Is he ignoring his own secretary of defense?
TATA: It's a campaign promise, Poppy, that he made and natural gas is now one-third of our energy consumption and coal is down to 30 percent. So I think what we're really looking at here is a president who is looking hard at a campaign promise he made and whether or not it is a fair deal for the United States.
BERMAN: It's interesting because you talk about the U.S. role in the world and people like Mitt Romney, who was at one point the Republican nominee. David, he went on Twitter and said affirmation of the Paris agreement is not only about the climate. It's about remaining the global leader. He essentially is saying that withdrawing hurts the U.S. role in the globe.
ROHDE: I mean, that's the sense, is that China is going to step in here. The European Union will do more and in terms of jobs, there are 70,000 coal miners employed in the United States today. More people work for Arby's fast food restaurants and work as coal miners. More people work for JC Penny alone and as coal miners.
You are having industry leaders like Elon Musk saying he is going to withdraw from presidential commissions and they are saying this isn't the way to actually create jobs. It is going to decrease jobs and it is a really poor decision in terms of leadership, diplomatically, but also economics. HARLOW: So the E.U. and China, Gentlemen, came out with a joint statement today and they say climate and energy reformation, that means wind jobs, solar jobs, new tech in terms of renewables is a, quote, "significant driver of job creation, investment opportunities, and economic growth."
Jobs, the president loves jobs. Trump wants more jobs here. Do you think this is seeding the way to China, David and then General, to take over and to take over in that and to create more jobs there than here?
ROHDE: Possibly. There was -- to be fair, the Obama administration put a lot of money into solar. It didn't work out that well. So I think it is more of a chance for China to lead diplomatically than for China to develop a lot more jobs than the United States.
BERMAN: General, the president faces another deadline today. He's got to basically decide whether or not he signs a waiver meeting that the U.S. embassy will not move to Jerusalem inside Israel. He promised he would move it to Jerusalem. Now he's waivering on it. I mean, I don't expect him to move it today. What has he learned about this?
TATA: This is another campaign promise, John, and this campaign promise Clinton made, Obama made, W. Bush made, and none of them did it. Congress passed a law back the late 90s saying that we would do it.
And so when I look at what President Trump is faced with, Iran has really established the Shia powerhouse in the Middle East now with the ISIS and everything that is happening through the Levant.
And I think what President Trump is looking at is there is this tenuous relationship building between Israel and several Arabic nations to fight back against this Iranian influence. And if he does the Tel Aviv to Jerusalem move it could fracture that. So I think that's the real issue he's facing.
HARLOW: Also throw the prospects of a peace deal out the window. Gentlemen, thank you.
BERMAN: All right, so how are markets reacting to the possibility that the president will leave the Paris climate deal? We're joined now by CNN chief business correspondent, star of "EARLY START" for a look at the market before the opening bell. Hey, Christine.
[09:25:06]CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, guys. Fascinating conversation there. You know, it looks like this president is out of step with business on this Paris climate change deal. Look, this morning if you woke up in Washington, D.C., the papers were full of ads signaling out the president, asking him to stay in the deal.
This was signed by 25 CEOs at the end of what has been a long process of personal phone calls, letters and outreach to the president about the climate change deal. They want to stay in.
He says, Dear President Trump, as some of the largest companies are operating within the United States, we strongly urge you to keep the United States in the Paris agreement on climate change.
I will show you some of those companies right now. But basically the reason is this. They think that tackling climate change is an important business issue for them, for their bottom line and the world.
They have already calibrated because many of them feel pressure from their shareholders towards this reality for the world and they don't want to seed leadership to the Russians, Europeans or Chinese on clean, new technology.
You will hear this statistics, six million jobs will be lost over the next 25 years or so, quoted by Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Rand Paul and supporters of getting out of this agreement. Heavy industry jobs that could be hurt. Coal jobs that could be hurt by staying in the Paris deal.
But Poppy and John, what we hear from other CEOs is they have already recalibrated for a future of clean technology for renewables and for new technology and new collar jobs, not some of those older, heavy industrial jobs. It is about looking forward, not looking back -- Poppy and John.
HARLOW: What I find fascinating is that he's not listening to his own secretary of state, who was the head for decades of one of the biggest oil companies in the world.
ROMANS: And when Rex Tillerson was confirmed in January, he sat there in front of those senators and said about 20 years ago as a scientist and engineer he realized that climate change was real and it was a business issue that needed to be confronted.
So there is a president here, who on the campaign trail at least, didn't seem to respect the science of climate change. His secretary of state, his top diplomat does. Ivanka has pushed him to stay in. His energy secretary has said to stay in.
But what he does at 3:00 I think will be very telling about who has the president's ear in the White House right now. He is seen as the pro-business president. Yet many business leaders he respects, including Elon Musk, they don't see eye to eye with the president on this.
It will be the -- you know, the EPA director and Steve Bannon, who seemed to have the president's ear on this particular issue. And it does check off one of his campaign promises, to get out of TPP, build a wall, to have a ban on Muslims entering the United States and to get out of the Paris agreement. This is one he could tick off in his mind to make sure he's doing what he said he would do on the campaign trail.
HARLOW: That is a good point. Christine Romans, thank you very much. Coming up, is the turmoil inside the White House taking a toll
on the president? We're talking with the man who wrote the book on him. Actually wrote the book on him.
BERMAN: Literally and seriously.
HARLOW: We'll be right back.