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Republicans Attack Mueller; Starr on Russian Probe; President's Base Still Supporting Him; Champions for Change: Dreamyard. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 12, 2017 - 08:30   ET



[08:31:14] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump spent the weekend going after James Comey's credibility. Now, this morning, it appears that some allies at the White House are going after Special Counsel Bob Mueller. Newt Gingrich just tweeted, "Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair. Look who he's hiring. Check FEC reports. Time to rethink."

So why are they doing this? Let's get "The Bottom Line" with CNN's senior political analyst Ron Brownstein.

Ron, we had you on earlier this morning before the Gingrich tweet.


BERMAN: We thought there might be something going on. I think now it's definite.

BROWNSTEIN: Right. And, look, we are seeing kind of the ultimate expression of the trend toward tribal politics in Washington as this plays out. The idea of standing for transcendence standards of kind of justice or of behavior is simply being destroyed. I mean, you know, what -- when Bob English (ph) said over the weekend, a former Republican congressman, that if you put this set of facts on a Hillary Clinton presidency, she comes in, the FBI director says he's reopening an investigation into the e-mail, she says I hope you can let it go and then fires her, there's no question that Republicans in the House would be looking at least at the beginning of an impeachment inquiry. Instead, we are seeing a complete circling of the wagons and it is something that I think is - is ultimately going to be in the hands of the voters eventually about whether this is the kind of oversight they want or whether they think that this is inappropriate.

CAMEROTA: It is inconceivable, Ron, if you put the Hillary Clinton - if you play the, what if Hillary did this game -


CAMEROTA: To change the names and put Hillary Clinton into it. It is an inconceivable scenario that we would still be here with many Republicans saying no collusion, nothing to see here. BROWNSTEIN: Na, nothing - nothing to see. Yes, nothing to see here.

CAMEROTA: So - but what about the argument that Bob Mueller and James Comey are long-time associates, have great respect - or reportedly have great respect for each other, may even be friends. How can Bob Mueller be impartial goes the question?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, I mean, you know, you get to the point where you ask if anyone can be impartial. No one is free from all associations. Bob Mueller is someone who's been respected in both parties. He's a former director of the FBI. I think until the last 48 hours, no one had really questioned his fairness, much less his competence to undertake an investigation like this.

And, look, what - look, what we are seeing is a locking of arms in - among Republicans in Congress, and more broadly in the coalition, around the president. As we said earlier, I mean, I have not heard any member of Congress say they dispute James Comey's versions of events. That - in other words, that Donald - President Trump is correct when he says, I didn't say any of the things that former FBI Director Comey alleged. Instead what they are saying is, even if he did, it's no big deal, it isn't a problem.

Now, obviously, there are many former prosecutors and legal scholars on the other side of that who argue that it provides at least a basis to begin an investigation into obstruction of justice, but this is the argument that Republicans are making. And, again, I think it is very unlikely that they will move in any way against the president unless a special counsel report utterly forces them to. And, you know, we are still a long way from him determining whether there is evidence to justify that kind of a (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: I just want to put a button on this discussion over Robert Mueller because someone who has experience with being - well not a special counsel, but literally an independent counsel, Kenneth Starr, who has been on the morning shows this morning and he was asked specifically about Bob Mueller's investigation and the attacks against him. Listen.


KEN STARR, FORMER INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: I just don't think at this stage we're anywhere near a crime. Nonetheless, we have to investigate it. That's what Mueller, Bob Mueller, who's a great man and a terrific lawyer, honest as the day is long, is going to - to be doing.


BERMAN: Bob Mueller, honest as the day is long.

So, Ron, we - I think we talked that one out. If I can, I want to ask you about the president's core support, because that may be part of the bottom line right here.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. [08:35:03] BERMAN: A lot of what he's saying may be playing to them. A

lot of the policies may be playing to them. Is there any sign that his core supporters might be getting a little bit shaky?

BROWNSTEIN: Sure. And I - first of all, yes, there is. I mean the president got 46 percent of the vote. His approval rating is consistently under 40 percent. Particularly it has declined not only among those college educated white voters who are dubious to begin with, but in that Quinnipiac poll last week, one of the most striking findings was that his approval among those blue collar whites was at 46 percent, 20 points below his vote.

But you can see, I think, both in the defense of the president on all matters Comey and Russia and in the offense in the sense of moving forward on the agenda and trying to resuscitate the repeal of the Affordable Care Act almost entirely behind closed doors without hearings, without a bill, without any Democratic or public input, all of it points toward the same conclusion, Republicans are banking in 2018 on speaking to their base and turning out their base supporters. There seemed to be an acknowledgement that this president is never going to be a majority support president and the electoral strategy seems to me a very high risk bet on speaking essentially to your 40 percent with very little regard for how your actions affect the other voters. And we'll see whether the results in Georgia six, either an Ossoff win or a close finish in the seat that Tom Price game up is enough to shake that for Republicans who are in places - there are many Republicans in the House in places where mobilizing Republicans are not enough to win. And we'll see if they remain on board for that strategy if Georgia six looks ominous for them.

CAMEROTA: All right, that will be very interesting. Ron, thank you very much for "The Bottom Line."

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: So the LGBT community and allies are marching this weekend across the country demanding equality under the Trump administration, as the nation marks one year since the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Coming up, we remember the 49 lives lost in Orlando.


[08:41:02] CAMEROTA: Time now for the "Five Things to Know for Your New Day."

Start us off, would you, John.

BERMAN: Attorney General Jeff Sessions offering to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee tomorrow, but lawmakers still have not decided if his testimony will be in public.

CAMEROTA: Well done.

The Trump White House may face a new legal headache. The Democratic attorneys general of Maryland and D.C. plan to announce a lawsuit against the president. The suit claims the president is violating the Constitution by taking payments from foreign governments.

BERMAN: Montana Congressman-elect Greg Gianforte expected to plead guilty today to misdemeanor assault. Gianforte is accused of body slamming "Guardian" reporter Ben Jacobs. He has since apologized twice.

CAMEROTA: Two hundred and fifty people arrested in Russia in anti- corruption protests in Moscow in St. Petersburg. That's according to an independent group monitoring the demonstrations. A key opposition leader was detained outside of his home.

BERMAN: GE's long time CEO and chairman Jeff Immelt is stepping down. John Flannery, the president and CEO of GE Health Care will take his place as CEO effective August 1st. Immelt will remain chairman through his retirement at the end of the year.

CAMEROTA: OK, for more on the "Five Things to Know," you can go to for the latest.

BERMAN: All right, thousands hitting the streets in cities across the U.S. to demand equality. Marches parading past the White House with a giant rainbow flag. The Los Angeles, the annual Pride Parade was renamed the Resist March. Tens of thousands of people carrying signs reading, "love Trumps hate." This was a scene in Charlotte, North Carolina. Demonstrators say even though House Bill 2 has been repealed, more needs to be done for the transgender community.

CAMEROTA: So today marks one year since the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando. Last night, hundreds gathered at the site of the rampage to remember the 49 people killed. Some of their family members going there for the very first time. People in white robes, they were wearing angels wings, and they were covering them as they cried. The city of Orlando will honor the 49 young lives today as we remember each and every one of them now.


ON SCREEN TEXT: Akyra Monet, Murray, 18.

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21.

Amanda Alvear, 25.

Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28.

Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25.

Antonio Davon Brown, 29.

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49.

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32.

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24.

Cory James Connell, 21. Darryl Roman Burt II, 29.

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32.

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30.

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34.

Enrique Rios, 25.

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36.

Frank Hernandez, 27.

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Valazquez, 50.

Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jamenez, 25.

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25.

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19.

Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40.

Jean C. nieves Rodriquez, 27.

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35.

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31.

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32.

Jonathan A. Camuy Vega, 24.

Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25.

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 27.

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22.

Kimberly "K.I." Morris, 37.

Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25.

Luis Daniel Conde, 39.

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37.

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20.

Luis S. Velma, 22.

Martin Benitez Torres, 33.

Mercedez Marisol Flores, 28.

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30.

Oscar A. Arancena-Montero, 26.

Paul Terrell Henry, 41.

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22.

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33.

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33.

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31.

Stanley Alamodovar III, 23.

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25.

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35.

Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, 24.


[08:48:43] CAMEROTA: OK, so this morning, CNN kicks off a week-long series called "Champions for Change" and a dozen CNN and HLN anchors, including the two of us, wanted to share with you stories that are closest to our hearts about the causes that are closest to our hearts.

So my choice is a non-profit called Dreamyard that helps students fulfill their dreams.


LEANNE TORRES, HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: A lot of people think that kids in the Bronx are dangerous. That a lot of us are going to end up in jail. That a lot of us are criminals. And that is not at all true. I want to prove to them that they're wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I grew up here in the Bronx. I want to go to college so I can truly discover who I am without all the influences and pressure that I have.

HAYDIL HERIQUEZ, CO-DIRECTOR, DREAMYARD ART CENTER: Here in the Bronx, the early 2000s, a lot of the arts funding was removed from the public education system.

CAMEROTA: Meaning no music.

HERIQUEZ: No music.

CAMEROTA: No dance. No theater. No photography. No fine arts. No painting. Nothing.

HERIQUEZ: Nothing.

CAMEROTA (voice-over): And the question I've often wondered is, what if a child doesn't have a way to discover her passion? What if that hidden talent is never tapped?

[08:50:04] CAMEROTA (on camera): This is my moldy, oldie photo album. My mother was a high school drama teacher. So I was just always around school plays. My first role, I was a munchkin in "The Wizard of Oz." I couldn't really act or sing, so I never was the star. But even just being a bird in the background, I loved it.

It makes me sad to think about what my life would have been like without all of those school plays because those were the highlights of my school experience.

CAMEROTA (voice-over): This is Dreamyard, a nonprofit that brings music, dance, theater, poetry and fine arts into public schools in the Bronx, New York, the poorest congressional district in the country. More than two decades ago, two 20-something-year-old guys, Tim Lord and Jason Dutchon (ph), had a dream. They believed that arts programs could keep kids engaged in school, keep them from dropping out, help them get better grades and maybe even go to college.

TIM LORD, CO-FOUNDER & CO-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DREAMYARD: We wrote a play called "Dreamyard," which is about a place that kids could go to and their parents had forgotten how to get there. That's all it was in the beginning was just us creating art with young people. And what was powerful about it was the way that it changed their connections to learning and to education.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a spontaneous photographer. I don't like to stop and have someone say cheese. And I like it, I'll take a picture.

TORRES: I love to paint just because paint is a type of thing where sometimes making a mistake actually ends up being part of what makes the painting beautiful.

Just dab it down just a little bit.

CAMEROTA: Thanks to Dreamyard, Sony Keith and Leanne Torres blossomed as artists, but they worried about what would come next.

TORRES: I feel like I've always known that college was my next step. When I started getting accepted into colleges, I couldn't pay for them, because even though I was getting good help, there was still a lot of money out-of-pocket that I couldn't afford and my mom couldn't even dream of affording.

CAMEROTA (on camera): I relied growing up on the generosity of a lot of people. I was able to go to a school where there was a lot of arts and theater and music through a scholarship. And I'm so grateful that I got to have that experience. And I always thought, even when I was 11, someday if I can, I'm going to pay that back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): And I rise up. I rise like the day. I rise up. I rise like the day.

CAMEROTA: It's so inspiring going to this Dreamyard event, because you see all of the kids, they are so talented. They knock your socks off, gives you goose bumps when you're in the audience. About a year ago, my husband said, maybe we should do more than just

go to the annual fundraiser. Maybe we could do just a little bit more than that for the kids.

My husband and I have chosen to support Dreamyard by creating a four- year scholarship. We are honored and excited to present the first to Charles P. Lord Dreamyard Scholarships. We'd like to invite up Sony Keith and Leanne Torres.

TORRES: I've been a part of Dreamyard for four years now. And I can honestly say that it's changed me.

Sadly, due to economical restrictions, I found myself unable to cover the gap that colleges were asking for. And today I can proudly say that in the fall I will be attending Union College. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you for the opportunity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My mother told me that when she was younger, she wasn't allowed to do so many things. She said the reason why she allows me to do Dreamyard and do other things is so I can express myself, so I can become the person I want to be.

TORRES: My mom was in her early 20s when she first came to the United States. We made the best out of her sacrifice. We're going to become professionals one day and we're going to - we're going to do great things. And I think that that's something that she's proud of.


CAMEROTA: So, by the way, in this piece, the instrumentals, all the instrumentals that you just heard was also music created by Dreamyard students, that is teenagers Frankie Perez Jr. (ph), Emmanuel Cuevas (ph) and Iannis Outloss (ph). So thanks to all of them and all of the students that we talked to. And also a special t hanks to my producer on this piece, Matt Rainard (ph).

BERMAN: I've got to say, people often think about the arts, visual and performing arts, as extra curriculars. They've got to get beyond that. It is somehow - sometimes the main avenue toward growth. And it's so important for kids especially.

[08:55:06] CAMEROTA: Totally. I mean and they're the first things that are cut, you know, when there's budget cuts, and they are just the highlights of your school - of my school experience.

BERMAN: And I'm going to demand to see tapes of your performances.

CAMEROTA: All right. I am happy to provide those.

CNN and HLN anchors will be bring you the causes closest to their hearts all week long. So for more you can go to Our next "Champions for Change" will be by Brooke Baldwin today at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. So tune in for that.

BERMAN: All right, more "Good Stuff" coming up next.


BERMAN: All right, time now for "The Good Stuff."

One California woman proving age just a number. Ninety-four-year-old Hariette Thompson (ph) holds world record for being the oldest woman to complete a half marathon and full marathon. But she's not racing to clinch records. This two-time cancer survivor has hit the pavement since 1999 to raise money for leukemia patients, raising more than $115,000 to date.


HARIETTE THOMPSON: I want to thank everybody who is so generous and gave me money. I made quite a bit this year for leukemia (INAUDIBLE). And that's the whole reason I'm running.


[09:00:02] CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, so impressive.

BERMAN: And the race goes on.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. God bless her.

John, thank you.

BERMAN: Nice to see you.

CAMEROTA: Great to work with you.

Time now for CNN "Newsroom" with just Poppy Harlow.