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President Trump Draws Criticism Over Memorial Day Tweet Touting His Accomplishments; House Passes Bill Loosening Dodd-Frank Regulations; Starbucks Shutting 8,000 Stores This Afternoon For Racial Bias Training; Trump Peddles New Conspiracy Theory About Midterm Meddling. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired May 29, 2018 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And so, the election meddling that he says is to come is -- you know, who knows? I mean, maybe it will stick, maybe it won't. Some of these things end up without any evidence -- like the spying that he's claiming end up sort of petering out.

So what do Democrats do about things like this and how to deflect the president's accusations?

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT), MEMBER, PERMANENT SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE, CHAIR, NEW DEMOCRAT COALITION: Yes, Alisyn, it's sort of -- it's more ominous than that, right? It's not like something sticks or it doesn't stick. Look, the president, three or four times a day, simply makes stuff up and lies about things.

The problem is that he's got a hardcore group of followers who as he so famously put it would stick with him if he shot somebody on Fifth Avenue. And a significant percentage of them are running around today saying oh, my God, they're rigging the next election.

Now, you know, this is part of Donald Trump's overall project to delegitimize not just the FBI, with the insane theory that the people who work there are somehow driven by the former president, notwithstanding all the behavior of the FBI during the election and, of course, the fact that none of these conspiracy theories have turned out to be true.

But now he's doing exactly what he did in the presidential election which is sort of teeing up in advance if 2018 doesn't go well for Congressional Republicans, which is looking quite possible, the very dangerous theory that the fundamental machinery of democracy, elections, are rigged. I mean, it's just profoundly irresponsible.

CAMEROTA: I'm not sure that it's going the way that he wanted it to or that he's getting the response that he wants on Twitter because he's just tweeted something new.

He says, "Sorry, I've got to start focusing my energy on North Korea and nuclear, bad trade deals, V.A. choice, the economy, rebuilding the military, and so much more -- and not on the rigged Russia witch hunt. They should be investigating Clinton, Russia, FBI, Justice, Obama, Comey, Lynch, etc."

First of all, as it's been pointed out to me by my producer, we've never heard him apologize publicly on Twitter before but he started that one with "sorry." And he wants to move on to the substance of being president? He's the person who sent out five other tweets this morning, often about the Russian investigation.

HIMES: Yes. No, that's right Alisyn. And I'll tell you, I'm just sort of know beginning to recover from the tweets that he sent out yesterday on Memorial Day -- a day where we really worked hard to set aside the barbecues, to set aside the lawn chairs, and remember that hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost their lives on our behalf keeping us safe.

And the president, of course, it up with his conspiracy theories on Twitter and making fun of Democrats. And, of course, arguably one of the most self-serving Memorial Day messages from a president in our nation's history.

So I guess even by his own standards he went a little overboard this morning with the tweets.

CAMEROTA: And just to remind people of what he -- was said yesterday.

He started his tweet by saying "Happy Memorial Day!" Exclamation point which, of course, all of us since childhood have been warned not to do.

It's a somber day. It's not about barbecues, as you say. It's about people who give the ultimate sacrifice.

He goes on to say, "Those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today. Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for blacks and Hispanics ever (and women in 18 years), rebuilding our military and so much more. Nice!" -- exclamation point.

I don't want to pretend to know how veterans feel about this or family members who have lost loved ones.

Did you hear from your constituents?

HIMES: A little bit, a little bit. I mean, look, where I come from he's not the most popular guy.

What's interesting to me is that when you read polling about -- and I know you don't have me on this show for my political expertise, but when you read polling about what even the president's hardcore supporters like and don't like about him, they often will say I wish he would lay off the Twitter.

And I just have to believe that in those areas where the president is strong, a number of people read that Memorial Day tweet and just said I just can't believe he did this.

Now that doesn't mean all of the sudden they're going to throw him overboard. But I've just got to believe that tweets like that, particularly targeted and probably a topic that would be particularly sensitive to veterans, to serving military, that he erodes a little bit of his support when he does that.

CAMEROTA: Congressman, I want to ask you about a recent vote that you took that is getting criticism for you and was a little controversial.

This is a vote on banking measure and it seemed to your critics that you were aligning yourself with some of the conservative House Republicans and that it was chipping away at the protections that Dodd-Frank had given to consumers in the too big to fail banking era, and that you seemed to be backpedaling on those protections.

[07:35:05] Can you just explain to us in layman's terms why you took this vote?

HIMES: Yes, sure. I mean, first of all, it was a -- it was a bill that passed last week in the House.

It had very -- you say conservative Republicans. It got 67 votes in the Senate. Nothing gets 67 votes in the Senate, right, including the votes of 17 Democrats -- including the vote of former vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine of Virginia. So it was hardly a bill just of conservative Republicans.

But substantively, it was aimed at fixing something that many of us have been concerned about in Dodd-Frank, which is Dodd-Frank appropriately -- and I helped write Dodd-Frank a long time ago -- appropriately put very significant restrictions on our banking industry.

The problem, of course, is that many of these restrictions don't really apply to smaller institutions. These are our credit unions and small banks on our Main Streets. And, you know, whereas Citibank or JPMorgan can hire 40 or 50 lawyers to deal with the new regulation, the smaller banks in many instances can't.

And if you listen to the small banks, as I do because they're terribly important to our communities, they will tell you hey, there's a lot of stuff here that just doesn't make any sense. Now, this bill did -- when you say chip away, this bill did, in fact, lighten some of the regulation on those small and community banks.

And look, I understand -- I've been watching this for a long time. It's very important to the Democratic Party and to others to say every time there's a modification proposed for Dodd-Frank to call it a Wall Street giveaway and a rollback. It was nothing of the kind.

CAMEROTA: Well, because just to be clear -- I mean, just so that we all understand, it did lift the asset threshold and so doesn't make more banks too big to fail?

HIMES: Well, no. What you're referring to Alisyn was something that I actually was pretty ambivalent about. And, you know, you don't ever like everything in a bill and I'm not here to tell you the bill was absolutely perfect. I'm here to tell you that it raised a lot of the regulation that was on our smaller banks.

But what you're referring to is the fact that we used to define a systemically important institution. That is to say, institutions that if they went down could cause a real problem for the system.

At $50 billion in assets, that's too low. I happen to think that $250 billion is probably too high but again, you don't get 100 percent bills -- you don't get perfect bills. And at $250 billion we're talking about institutions like SunTrust, like American Express -- institutions that you never heard of in 2008. This was not Bear Stearns, this was not AIG.

So yes, it did have one or two elements in it that affected some of our more medium-sized banks.

But again, in any piece of regulation you need to be open-minded about the fact that good regulation is balanced and it shouldn't become a religious war between those people who want to repeal Dodd-Frank and those people who say you can't touch a single word of Dodd-Frank or any other piece of legislation or regulation.

So this, in my mind, was a -- was a fair and very strongly bipartisan, in both the House and the Senate, attempt to relieve some of the pressure on our smaller community banks and credit unions.


Congressman Jim Himes, we always appreciate you coming on and explaining your position. Thanks so much.

HIMES: Thank you, Alisyn.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So if you are heading to Starbucks this afternoon you may have to wait to get a cup of coffee. We'll tell you why thousands of Starbucks are closing early today.


[07:42:04] BERMAN: The threat of floods continue to grip the southeast. The first named storm of the season, Alberto, has already turned deadly and is expected to dump more heavy rain. The storm has already claimed lives -- two journalists covering the storm in North Carolina.

In the meantime, Maryland's search -- in Maryland, a search continues for a National Guardsman who went missing after he was swept away by floodwaters trying to help a victim.

Residents there beginning the recovery process. You can see the area is just a disaster. Look at those cars upended in a building. It's just simply destroyed.


Bursts of volcanic ash now expected to fall on Hawaii's Big Island as fast-moving lava from Kilauea forces immediate evacuations.

This is called fissure eight. It has reactivated with two lava fountains shooting up at 200 feet high at times.

The molten rock is creeping on streets in and around Leilani Estates forcing sections of the subdivision to evacuate. Authorities are going door-to-door to make sure that people are not isolated somehow by this lava flow.

The lava has destroyed, at this point, more than 120 homes and structures.

BERMAN: An Indiana middle school teacher who took down a student shooter last week is speaking up for the first time. Seventh-grade science teacher Jason Seaman was shot three times as he tackled the gunman. He says he didn't give much thought to the most dangerous decision of his life.


JASON SEAMAN, SEVENTH-GRADE SCIENCE TEACHER, NOBLESVILLE WEST MIDDLE SCHOOL, NOBLESVILLE, INDIANA: As a person who isn't looking for attention nor entirely comfortable with the situation I am currently in, I want to make it clear that my actions on that day, in my mind, were the only acceptable actions I could have done given the circumstances.

I deeply care for my students and their well-being so that is why I did what I did that day.


BERMAN: A female student was also shot. She is in critical condition but is making progress.

CAMEROTA: Look, it's hard not to sort of look for lessons in every one of these. What should we learn from this, what should we do? And the only lesson is you need to have a big hero who can tackle a gunman.

I mean, you know, it's hard to figure out how we're supposed to solve this problem when every single school shooting and mass shooting ends differently.

BERMAN: No, and sometimes it can seem like such a daunting challenge how do you even address it? But one way to address every challenge is decency, which this man seems to have in excess.

CAMEROTA: That's for sure. All right.

Meanwhile, 8,000 Starbucks stores will close early this afternoon for anti-bias training. This, of course, follows that incident in Philadelphia where a Starbucks manager called police on two black men who were just sitting down inside the store doing nothing wrong.

CNN's Alex Marquardt is live in Philadelphia with more. Hi, Alex. ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn, that's right. That incident taking place right here at this Philadelphia Starbucks, who was caught on camera by bystanders. That video quickly going viral causing outrage all across the country and really, all around the world. And the company realized very quickly that they had a P.R. disaster on their hands.

[07:45:02] But at the same time, they realized this really could be a teachable moment and they announced that today, May 29th, they would be carrying out mandatory anti-bias training for their 175,000 employees. As you mentioned, they are closing down their 8,000 stores across the country this afternoon.

And essentially, it's going to go like this. This is a 4-hour training. The employees in these stores will break up into small groups and essentially, the training will be broken down into three parts.

The company is sending around what they're calling tool kits and the tool kits will guide the training.

The first part is a video that features the founder and chairman Howard Schultz, the CEO Kevin Johnson, and the rapper Common.

The employees will also be watching a film by the award-winning documentarian Stanley Nelson, who has done films on the African- American experience, on racial bias in the past and in the present.

And then, the groups will talk amongst themselves about the racial bias that they've experienced, what they have seen, and what they would like to see going forward.

Now, we should note that there are some 7,000 Starbucks stores across the country that are not directly owned by the company. Those are ones that are found in office buildings, hospitals, and the like. Those will not be shutting down -- most of them -- but the company is making these educational materials available to them if they want them.

We should note this is not -- the company is not saying this is the solution. They are saying that this is the first part of what they call a very long journey -- John.

BERMAN: All right, Alex Marquardt for us in Philadelphia. Alex, thanks very much.

The President of the United States just suggested that Robert Mueller's investigation will work to undermine the 2018 midterms. What planet is he on this morning? We'll ask a close ally of the president, coming up next.


[07:50:52] BERMAN: All right.

President Trump is peddling a new conspiracy theory this morning suggesting that Robert Mueller's investigators who he all labels as Democrats will meddle in the upcoming midterms elections.

Joining us now, Michael Caputo, a former aide to the Trump presidential campaign. Michael, great to have you on this morning. Thanks so much for being with us.

You've been in the room with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators. Have you seen any evidence that they're meddling in the 2018 midterms?

MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER AIDE TO TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: No, I haven't. I think what we see here is a president who is disappointed that this thing continues to drag on.

And I think there are Republicans out there who are --

BERMAN: But, Michael --

CAPUTO: -- talking about how --

BERMAN: Michael, I'm disappointed the Celtics lost.

CAPUTO: Let me just finish.

BERMAN: I'm disappointed the Celtics lost and it doesn't give me the right to say that LeBron James has wings on his feet or horns in his head. Those things are not true.

The president can be disappointed --

CAPUTO: They might be, though. They might be.

BERMAN: He -- Mueller saying -- the president's saying that Robert Mueller and his team were going to meddle in the 2018 elections. That's absurd.

CAPUTO: Well, I think that what the president might be talking about -- I haven't spoken to the president about this but there are a lot of people in the Republican Party who suspect that the Mueller investigation might time releases of information that are -- to release them at times when it's advantageous to the Democratic tickets.

I don't know that that's going to happen. The Mueller team has been hard -- you know, they haven't really been leaking as much as I thought they might.

But you -- we -- I think we have to wait and see if this thing rolls forward and some of these investigation conclusions come out at inopportune times. You might be calling that meddling. You might just call that bad timing.

BERMAN: All right.

First of all, as far as I can tell, the Mueller team hasn't been leaking at all, correct? And to go back --

CAPUTO: Well, I think the --

BERMAN: Just hang on --

CAPUTO: I think if you leak -- if you leak against Dir. Mueller he's going to get pretty upset. I've seen some things that looked like they might have been leaked from that side but it's really not as prevalent as people might think.

BERMAN: Right. In other words, you're suggesting he's running a pretty fair investigation right now, correct?

CAPUTO: I don't think it's fair. I think it's designed to punish the president and to ruin the president, to ruin his family, to ruin his businesses, to ruin his friends.

BERMAN: You think Robert Mueller -- you think that --

CAPUTO: I don't think this thing is fair at all. I sat through it --

BERMAN: You -- the genesis of it. I understand you have a problem with the genesis of it --

CAPUTO: Right.

BERMAN: -- but I also have heard you talk about what your time was like in that room and how they treated you respectfully.

Now that the investigation is going --

CAPUTO: They did.

BERMAN: Now that the investigation is going, you think Robert Mueller's trying to ruin the president?

CAPUTO: No, I -- listen, I'll tell you. I believe that the investigation is designed to ruin the president.

I sat through what I thought was a fair and direct interrogation.

At the same time, however, I believe that a lot of this -- like, for example, the fact that they're putting people to spy on members of the campaign. The fact that I was approached a couple of times that I thought were suspicious.

There's a lot of investigation activity going on that we don't know about right now and I think it's time for us to find out.

BERMAN: Well, you used the word spy again. You know --

CAPUTO: Of course, I did because that's what it was.

BERMAN: I don't want to relitigate this point that's been out in the news for a couple of weeks. Right now, I'll just use the other language so people know what it is. It's a confidential source.

Now you've had leaders in both parties who've seen the evidence there, who have been briefed, and they came out of that meeting and most of them have suggested -- well, let me play.

We have Marco Rubio who is on the Intelligence Committee. Let's listen to what Marco Rubio says about just that and then I want to move on to new things this morning. Let's listen to Sen. Rubio.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: As far as what I have seen to date, it appears that there was an investigation not of the campaign but of certain individuals who have a history that we should be suspicious of that pre-date the presidential campaign of 2015-2016.

And when individuals like that are in the orbit of a major political campaign in America, the FBI, who is in charge of counterintelligence investigations, should look at people like that.


BERMAN: All right. Again, that's Sen. Rubio who is on the Intelligence Committee on that.

CAPUTO: Well, you can call it -- John, you can call it long, cylindrical semolina but out here in flyover country, we call that spaghetti. You can -- you can obfuscate this all you want but here, we call it spying.

BERMAN: All right. I'm not obfuscating at all. I'm merely playing you what Sen. Rubio called it and I am telling you what people -- what people in the Intelligence Community --

[07:55:02] CAPUTO: I think that -- I think Sen. Rubio is obfuscating.

BERMAN: You think Sen. Rubio is a liar here?

CAPUTO: No, I don't -- I didn't call him a liar. I'll tell you what it is. I don't listen to Sen. Rubio and I haven't for quite some time. You're always going to be able to find a Republican to say what you want to say.

But at the end of the day the things that we were going through at the campaign, I believe were spying. And I think we're going to be borne out as truthful in the end.

BERMAN: Well, you know, this investigation will continue at face and we'll find out what they develop over the course of time.

But I think there is a tie between the use of the language that you are using right now and the baseless attack the president is making this morning suggesting that Robert Mueller's team will meddle in the 2018 election, which you say you have seen no evidence of.

And I think it gets to what Mayor Giuliani was speaking about this weekend. He's just trying to discredit the Mueller investigation. He admits that his goal right now is to discredit the Mueller investigation.

Let's listen to what he said.


RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They're giving us the material. I couldn't do it if I didn't have the material. Of course, we have to do it I defending the president.

Look, we're defending -- to a large extent, remember Dana, we're defending here -- it is for public opinion because eventually, the decision here is going to be impeach-not impeach.

Members of the Congress, Democrat and Republican, are going to be informed a lot by their constituents so our jury is the American -- as it should be, is the American people.


BERMAN: Our jury is the American people, right? Admitting basically they're just trying to discredit the Mueller investigation the best they can in the eyes of the jury, the American people.

The truth for Mayor Giuliani -- or the goal, I should say, isn't the truth or not the truth, it's simply discredit.

CAPUTO: No, I don't agree with that at all, of course.

But at the same time, an impeachment is a decision arrived upon by representatives of the people. And this one of those very rare occasions in American jurisprudence where you get to work the jury and the public opinion matters a lot.

At the same time, Rudy Giuliani and the legal team are tasked with pursuing the truth and trying to work at a conclusion of this investigation. I believe that Rudy Giuliani and the president's team are working forward in that regard.

I, myself, spend a lot of time on television knocking back on this investigation because I believe what they did to me and what they've done to others is really unpalatable --

BERMAN: But you --

CAPUTO: -- with the suffering that a lot of families have gone through with the president's investigation.

BERMAN: And you've gone through a lot. You've gone through a lot and people have paid a lot of legal --

CAPUTO: But not just me.

BERMAN: I understand, I understand.

CAPUTO: But John, not just me, not just me.

BERMAN: I appreciate that.

CAPUTO: I know over a dozen people.

BERMAN: And you have a vested interest in this but you're also a terrific communicator which is why I like getting your insight on what we're hearing from the president this morning.

But there is an element -- more than an element. It may be almost all of it when he's saying that Mueller and his team will meddle in the 2018 election. That's just communication right now. He is just peddling this to try to influence people, correct?

CAPUTO: It also might be a little chin music John because I think if the Mueller investigation is looking at timing to release something or talk about something publicly or Democrat operatives are looking at some of the Mueller things that are going down and the value of those to the electoral campaigns.

You know, this is chin music. This is the president perhaps rushing back the investigation, warning them to be careful about the timing of the things that they're doing and to be sure that they're not -- they're not coordinated with the Democratic Party.

BERMAN: It's chin music. It's chin music but it's not truth, correct?

CAPUTO: I'm sorry?

BERMAN: It's chin music but chin music isn't necessarily truth here, correct?

CAPUTO: Well, I've got to say -- I've got to say this. The jury's out right now because the elections are pretty far away. But if we see some kind of coincidental communications I'd call that meddling.

BERMAN: OK, but you haven't seen it yet, just to be clear. You've been in the room with them.

CAPUTO: No and we --

BERMAN: You saw no evidence.

CAPUTO: -- haven't even seen campaigns yet.


Michael Caputo, great to have you with us this morning.

CAPUTO: Nothing happens until after Labor Day, right?

BERMAN: You know, the most important poll is the one on Election Day. The only poll that counts is the one on Election Day, as they say.

Michael Caputo --

CAPUTO: I want to say though we've got to all keep our eyes open after Labor Day. This thing's going to get interesting.

BERMAN: All right. We have to keep our eyes open. That doesn't mean that Robert Mueller is meddling in the 2018 election.

Michael Caputo, thanks so much for being with us. I do appreciate having you here on my first day.

CAPUTO: Hey, congratulations on the new gig, John.

BERMAN: Thank you very much. As I said, he's a great communicator.

We're following a lot of news so let's get to it.

CAMEROTA: You were fishing for that one.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A lot of people are working on it. We're looking at June 12th in Singapore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does feel somewhat rushed. If they need more time they should push it off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been at it for several decades and everyone has failed. And so, Trump seems to have moved us closer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not a day for the president to put his narcissism on full display.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is acutely aware of what Memorial Day is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The best way to honor the fallen is to make the message about them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Flooding is a concern. We're expecting a lot of water.

MIKE MCCORMICK, NEWS ANCHOR, WYFF NEWS 4, DIED WHILE COVERING SUBTROPICAL STORM ALBERTO: It is a freak of nature. I have never seen an event like this one.

JOSEPH LOPEZ, FRIEND OF MISSING NATIONAL GUARDSMAN EDDISON HERMOND: We're all keeping up hope. It is tough to just sit here and wait knowing you can't do anything about it.