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Interview with Representatives Claudia Tenney and Gregory Meeks; Special Counsel Investigating Trump for Possible Destruction of Justice; Details Emerge About Virginia Shooter; Interview with Martha McSally; Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired June 15, 2017 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:30:00] REP. CLAUDIA TENNEY (R), FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE: -- on both sides. So I understand that being an independent and having to reach out to both sides and understand that there are compromises we can make, and I've done that as a new member of Congress. We have bills that we're working on together. Congressman Meeks and I are working on a flood insurance package today in our Financial Services Committee meeting. There's a lot of things that we have in common and that we're trying to bring together.
Sometimes, I think, with all due respect, sometimes the media likes to find things that are exciting to find fault with us and find where we are divided and not where we're unified. I thought yesterday's message between Speaker Ryan and Leader Pelosi was a really good message. It said it's up to us.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.
TENNEY: We need to lead the way, we need to stick together. Any kind of act against any one of us is an act against all of us, and I thought that that was a great message. And I thought both of them stood together and proved it.
REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D), CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: People forget that, for example, not too long ago, the State of the Union address, we had what we call date night, and we had Democrats sitting on the Republican side, Republicans on the Democratic side.
BERMAN: A shout-out for Gabby Giffords. The dates aren't happening right now.
MEEKS: But even if you look at, with reference to bills, as several Republicans, we're talking about bills that we can work on together. The bills that are controversial are the bills that are reported on. Are you talking about traveling together? You know, we were just talking about traveling. She was saying, oh, this one member, or another member, I got to know him personally more than I did before, so we get to know one member and another in that aspect. If you just come and you see members in the members' gym, you know, they are talking together.
TENNEY: Let's go to the heart of this.
BERMAN: So -- go ahead. TENNEY: The softball team. I'm a member of the Women's Softball
Team, which is a coed team. We're not the Democrats playing the Republicans. We play the news media here.
BERMAN: Yes. Thank goodness. The real enemy here.
TENNEY: Exactly. So we're -- you know, we're going to trash talk you guys a little bit and make sure that we win that game, but --
BERMAN: Just one bit of business, you got a practice this morning.
TENNEY: Yes, we did have a practice.
BERMAN: More security?
TENNEY: We had more security. Everything went off very well. And we've had security in the past, not very much. But we had more today. I have to tell you, there was a lot of warmth today at the game. We were -- you know, it was a scrimmage, it was a practice, and we all worked together. And I think it was -- it's great opportunity for me to get to know other members, not just Democrats, but also members of the Senate.
BERMAN: I love the outreach.
BERMAN: And I love how you guys say it goes on without us noticing, but I also think, you know, we'd be remiss not to point out what is happening in plain sight.
HARLOW: I was just going to say, what -- the picture you're painting, we applaud it. I can tell you, it's not the picture the American people see or feel.
TENNEY: But I think you need to paint that picture. I think it's -- now, we're doing it. I think --
HARLOW: It's actually not on us to paint the picture --
TENNEY: Once in a while, but you the media, you report. You know?
HARLOW: We play what you guys are saying.
TENNEY: Or the state. I used to run a newspaper and a media business. I know it's very important to present all sides. You certainly should show the discord, but you also should show when we're working together and coming out with bipartisan bills and issues.
MEEKS: Sometimes that's not news. No. Look, it is on the floor, we're going to debate bills. And I'm going to state my position and I expect my Republican colleagues to take their position, and we're going to debate and we're going to debate hard. But once we're off the floor, many of them, you know, we get together, we talk, and we joke about, you know, family and talk about family.
BERMAN: And again --
MEEKS: That's not going to stop.
BERMAN: I'm pointing to one example because it just happened moments ago with Donald Trump on Twitter.
HARLOW: Yes. Yes. The tweets.
BERMAN: Talking about the special counsel saying the investigation is being led by, "very bad people," which is different than saying, I don't agree with the special counsel.
BERMAN: Or he's not doing a good job, but very bad people.
HARLOW: Attacking the -- it's attacking the person.
MEEKS: Well, I think that's what we have to avoid. I think that's -- we should not do that. I think that people -- I think my Republican colleagues are wishing that Donald Trump stops tweeting, you know, because that's bad for everybody when you have that kind of flavor.
TENNEY: I don't think that any one side has a monopoly on who takes personal attacks and that's something me as a member of Congress have been very careful not to do. It's all about ideas, it's about, as Congressman Meeks said, this is about an exchange, about us zealously presenting our position, a robust debate as you can see by our founders. That's something we're doing. I think the steps that we can take and the steps Leader Pelosi and as Speaker Ryan said is as Congress members, let's lead the way in making sure that the people know that, yes, you can disagree, but we can walk away respectfully.
And quite honestly, I think sometimes as lawyers, we're used to that. We're used to the combative field of the courtroom and we don't take it personally. And I think right now it's good to debate. We get excited, as congressman said. We have some pretty heated debates in our Financial Services Committee, but in the end, you know, we want to come to a compromise, we want to come to something that will help the people in our communities.
TENNEY: And I think that you can find that everyone is doing that.
BERMAN: Well, listen, Congressman Meeks, Congresswoman Tenney, thank you for coming here. Thank you for coming here together.
BERMAN: This is something we can all be more civil on a daily basis.
HARLOW: Thank you for sitting together on this show, we appreciate it.
TENNEY: Yes. He's on my committee with me.
BERMAN: We saw a hug. We just saw a bipartisan hug here.
TENNEY: We hug all the time.
HARLOW: And guess who covered that hug live on CNN.
BERMAN: Live on CNN. All right.
HARLOW: The media. Thank you, guys.
TENNEY: New Yorkers. We stick together.
HARLOW: Very much. We appreciate it.
All right. The president this morning also tweeting, "The witch hunt is being led by very bad people," saying it's the biggest witch hunt in history. We're going to talk more about the strategies from the White House right now as we have learned that the special counsel is investigating potential obstruction of justice. Stay with us.
HARLOW: New this morning, a major development in the Russia investigation. President Trump squarely in the sights of Special Counsel Bob Mueller. The "Washington Post" is reporting that now Mueller's investigation is looking at the president for possible obstruction of justice.
It comes as CNN learns that Mueller will interview several top intelligence officials as soon as this week as part of the probe. Those include director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and NSA director, Admiral Mike Rogers.
BERMAN: Last week, Coats and Rogers both denied to the Senate Intelligence Committee that they were pressured by the president to intervene in an FBI probe of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the election.
[10:40:02] And the president this morning wrote, "They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story," he's not talking about Coats and Rogers there. He's talking about others. "Found zero proof, so now they go to obstruction of justice on the phony story, nice." And also this, "You are witnessing the single greatest witch hunt in American political history led by some very bad and conflicted people."
Here to discuss, CNN White House correspondent Athena Jones and Paul Callan, CNN legal analyst.
The White House, Athena, going very hard, directly after the special counsel's investigation.
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. That's right. With those two tweets this morning, this is not the first time we've heard the president call these investigations in general a witch hunt, but he's made it very clear how he feels about this latest report.
This is exactly the kind of headline that the president was trying so hard to avoid, a headline saying that he himself is under investigation. But it's important to remind our viewers that it's the president's own words and actions that have raised the question of obstruction of justice.
Take a listen to what he had to say to NBC about the firing of James Comey and then what Comey had to say about his firing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: There's no doubt that it's a fair judgment, it's my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: And so there you see that it was the president himself saying that Russia was on his mind when he fired the former FBI director. And this isn't even touching on that separate conversation that Comey says he had with the president, where he says the president urged him to let the Flynn investigation go, the investigation into his former national security adviser. So it is the president's own words and deeds that have helped raise this issue -- John.
HARLOW: All right, Athena Jones. Thank you very much.
And Paul Callan, to you, the legal side of all of this. What stands out to you most? I mean, Admiral Rogers and DNI Coats were stonewalling, really, to Congress in all of those questions. Is it possible -- because the "Washington Post" is reporting that it was just shortly after May 9th when Comey was fired that this investigation really branched out into potential obstruction of justice, looking at that.
Is it possible that they were not answering questions because they were being questioned by Mueller in this expanded investigation?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I doubt that that's the reason. I think they were just honoring sort of this traditional idea that, you know, confidentiality applies to presidential discussions, direct presidential discussions. I mean, you know, I find the ultimate irony here with the president
saying this is the biggest witch hunt in American history, well, it's his Justice Department that's doing the witch hunt. He's the guy in charge of the Justice Department, which is now investigating him for obstruction of justice.
So if it's a witch hunt, his administration started it. This is not emanating from the Democrats. And by the way, it doesn't surprise me that, of course, Mueller would interview the intelligence chiefs. They're going to have relevant information not only on a potential obstruction charge, but if there was collusion with the Russians, who better -- who would have better knowledge of that than American intelligence authorities? They're going to know what American citizens are reaching out overseas and acting properly or improperly.
So I'm not surprised that he would interview them at the beginning of his investigation. That's just being a smart prosecutor or a smart investigator.
BERMAN: Yes. And one thing to note here, James Comey testified while he was FBI director. The president was under investigation by some interpretations. Now perhaps he is at least being investigated for possible obstruction of justice, so that status may have changed.
Paul Callan, Dan Coats, Admiral Rogers, Jeff Sessions refusing to questions, holding out the specter that at some point the White House might try to use executive privilege here. Would executive privilege prevent Bob Mueller forever from getting the information he wants from Jeff Sessions, Dan Coats, Admiral Rogers?
CALLAN: No, I think Mueller will be able to get the information from them, even if there's an assertion of executive privilege. There's a process the courts follow. And what it is is Mueller will have to establish in court that the information from them cannot be obtained from other sources, and it is essential to a criminal investigation. In that case, the courts have traditionally said executive privilege falls the need for information in the court system is a greater public interest. And -- so I think in the end he'll get his information.
HARLOW: All right, Paul Callan, thank you very much. We appreciate it. Athena Jones at the White House as well.
We are waiting for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to speak in just moments. That, of course, comes on a day where we are seeing a lot of unity here at the nation's capital. This is ahead of the big congressional baseball game tonight. What will we hear from her? You'll hear it live right here. Stay with us.
[10:49:13] BERMAN: All right, this morning we're learning more about the man who opened fire at the baseball field in Alexandria yesterday. The shooter had a history of anti-Republican and anti-President Trump rants online.
CNN's Ryan Young is outside the home of the shooter in Belleville, Illinois.
Ryan, what are you learning?
RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know such an interesting conversation we're having that online presence they didn't any presence in this neighborhood. Look, when we showed up yesterday and started talking to neighbors, a lot of them were just shocked by what they were starting to learn about the guy who lived next door. In fact, this is a private driveway that's just behind us. There's about five homes back there, all covered by the ATF and the FBI yesterday.
They worked from beyond 10:00 yesterday morning all the way past midnight as investigators were gathering evidence. But to set the scene for you just a little bit, we're about 30 minutes outside of St. Louis, and I can tell you, we're surrounded by corn fields.
[10:50:03] This is a very rural area, so there's not a lot of neighbors to talk to. Most of the folks that we spoke to were quite surprised by not only what they learned about his Internet rantings but the fact that he had left here and drove away.
There is a huge sign that's pretty much right off to my side here that was a home inspection sign. That hasn't been taken down yet, but that's the business that he forfeited. One of the neighbors was telling us over the last few months he's been selling a lot of his belongings on Craigslist, and he actually bought a few items from him but never realized he was leaving to go to D.C.
Now, back in March, the sheriff's department did have to come out here because there was a call for somebody who was concerned that they heard shots being fired. And just behind us, we are told that sheriff's deputies arrived to this home and we saw a man using what they considered a deer rifle in the backyard, and they believed he was setting his sights. They do not believe that was the weapon used in this case.
We also watched as ATF agents were measuring the distance from that front door all the way to the front. I'm not sure what evidence they picked up when they were doing that sort of measurements, and they were using metal detectors. Going on from there, we've learned that back in 2006 that apparently there was some kind of domestic abuse case with his daughter. He was trying to separate her from a friend, may have punched that young lady in the face, and when her boyfriend came to confront him about that, he might have fired a shotgun into the ground.
That case was dismissed because of the fact that no one showed up to the court case. So when you put all this together, it is nothing that anyone said was a red flag that would have led them to believe that something like this could have happened in D.C. -- guys.
HARLOW: Ryan Young, thank you for the reporting there in Belleville, Illinois.
Let's discuss all of this with Republican Congresswoman Martha McSally. She joins us now. Thank you for being here.
REP. MARTHA MCSALLY (R), ARIZONA: Thanks for having me on.
HARLOW: You sit in the seat that Gabby Giffords once sat in, of course, the last member of Congress to be shot before yesterday. And you, yourself, have faced threats. A Tucson man calling your office saying he couldn't wait to pull the trigger, your days are numbered, because of your political beliefs and your support of President Trump. What is going on?
MCSALLY: Yes. In fact, he's being arraigned tomorrow.
MCSALLY: He was indicted on three separate counts of threatening to kill a federal official and impede, you know, my ability to do my duties. So this environment is like I've never seen in my lifetime and I think the temperature is way too hot. And I think, you know, the days after Gabby was shot and six others were killed and, you know, yesterday we walked by the Gabe Zimmerman Room, the first congressional staffer killed in the line of duty, in remembrance of him, before we went to our briefing.
And they came together. I wasn't here then, but you know, sat across the aisle with each other, the State of the Union, talk about civility. But things are enflamed to such a hot point right now. I'm often using the analogy of the frog in the water. You know, you put a frog in boiling water, it's going to jump out, but you turn the temperature up one degree at a time and the frog will eventually, you know, die, but doesn't notice it.
And so I really think the rhetoric, the hatred, the vitriol, the inability to have a discussion about sincerely held beliefs and debate them but not be disagreeable with each other, I think we all need to look in our hearts, the country and the community, as public officials to see what can we do to not just have this be one day or one moment, but we've got to change the way we're interacting with each other.
This hatred and this demonizing is so toxic. And if we think that it's not enflaming people who maybe are not stable or have prone to violence, is not enflaming them, that they need to do something about it, we're kidding ourselves. And this investigation is ongoing. We'll know more about the shooter --
BERMAN: Do you think that contributed here?
MCSALLY: Perhaps, but after the man was arrested threatening to kill me, I, sadly, said to friends and family, loved ones, I think it's only a matter of time before somebody takes action. We know in our community better than any that threats of violence and acts of violence, sometimes it's not a large leap, especially when there's an environment where people are starting to believe -- like, you know, we have die-ins at my office.
HARLOW: Yes. MCSALLY: You know, thinking that I'm getting up every day trying to
figure out, like, how to kill your loved ones. You know. And if someone's listening to that, you know, related as a health care debate about what's the best way to provide access to affordable health care, but if people really think Martha McSally is trying to, you know, kill my loved ones, I've got to stop her. That's the environment that we're in, that somebody that's potentially unstable can be incited by that.
HARLOW: So, given that, is there a message? Paul Ryan, with his beautiful, eloquent remarks that were applauded.
HARLOW: When people got on their feet yesterday in the chamber.
HARLOW: Is there a message from the top down that you want to see from the president on this down?
MCSALLY: I think from all of us. Speaker Boehner said those same exact words. An attack on one is an attack on all after --
HARLOW: So should -- what do you think the president should say?
MCSALLY: I think all of us, including the president, the leadership in the House and Senate, but really across the country. I mean, we're representing what's going on in our communities as well. We all have to look within our hearts and we all have to do what we can within our roles in order to create an environment where we can have thoughtful debate and discussions, sincerely held rigorous debates on the issues of the day, but not turn that into demonizing people.
[10:50:09] BERMAN: Right.
MCSALLY: Threatening people and the environment that comes with that, it's just insane. I was in the military. There's real enemies out there that are trying to kill us and take away our way of life. The enemies are not our neighbors and our friends and our colleagues from a different political party.
BERMAN: Right. The important message it sends is just because I think you are wrong doesn't means I think you are bad.
BERMAN: And that's what we're hearing from our leaders.
Congresswoman Martha McSally, thank you so much for being with us. The president yesterday noted, you know, we do well to remember, we are all Americans.
HARLOW: We are. BERMAN: Thanks so much.
HARLOW: Especially today. Thank you, Congresswoman.
BERMAN: All right. Moments from now, we could hear from the president again. This will be the first time we hear from him today. What will he say about the condition of Congressman Steve Scalise?
Also what will he say about the reports that he could now be under investigation by the special counsel for obstruction of justice? A lot of developments. We're following all of them. Stay with us.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan live in our nation's capital today. Any moment now, we are expecting to hear from President Trump from the White House. Of course as two major stories are unfolding here in Washington. First a problem --