Return to Transcripts main page
Bill Clinton Tries to Clarify Tone-Deaf Comments About Lewinsky; Bill Clinton: I Support the Me Too Movement; Trump Blames Sessions' Recusal for Ongoing Russia Probe; Mueller Accuses Paul Manafort of Witness Tampering; Starbucks Chief Retiring, Fuels 2020- Run for President Speculation; Wall Street Set to Open Flat After Tech Rally. Aired 9-9:30a ET
Aired June 5, 2018 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:00:19] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. 9:00 a.m. Eastern. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Brianna Keilar in Washington. Stars and stripes, check. Fife and drums, you betcha. Eagles, well, not a chance. Six hours and counting until President Trump's "Celebration of America" formerly a celebration of the Philadelphia Eagles winning this year's Super Bowl.
HARLOW: The president revoked the Eagles' White House invitation when he learned only a small number of players were actually planning to show up at the White House this afternoon. Now the president claims the team disagrees with him on his anthem kneeler stance, even though no Eagles players knelt during their championship season and one player tells CNN the issue never even came up in a team meeting about the White House visit.
Also, this morning a stunning admission from President Trump's suggesting he would've picked another attorney general if it would have stopped the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Now the president writes, quote, "The Russian witch hunt hoax continues all because Jeff Sessions didn't tell me he was going to recuse himself."
Let's begin our coverage this morning at the White House. That's where we find our Kaitlan Collins with more on the Eagles' canceled visit.
What have you learned?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, this seems to be what happens when you throw a celebration and people decide not to show up. The president instead of canceling it has changed the theme of this afternoon's celebration and instead of honoring the Eagles who won the Super Bowl, it's going to focus on the country and the national anthem specifically.
Now I'm told behind the scenes that when the president was informed yesterday that very few players were planning on attending he was infuriated and that has what led to that abrupt decision to cancel this event.
Now it's unclear how many players the president was told had made the decision to come. I'm told that some staffers inside the White House heard that only 10 people were going to come and some heard only as few as four players were going to attend the celebration this afternoon. It's something that infuriated the president, he was well aware of what the optics would be if the president was posing with less than a dozen players and staffers here at the South Lawn of the White House during a celebration that typically includes dozens of players and is typically a nonpolitical event.
That is not the case here today. The president tweeting this morning about the celebration they're going to have this afternoon, saying it's going to be for the national anthem, but then there at the end he makes a point about the Eagles saying that they are honoring America today. NFL, no escaping to the locker rooms. That is a reference to that new rule instituted by the NFL that if the players are going to kneel during the national anthem, they must stay in the locker room or risk being fined.
But we should note here that none of the Philadelphia Eagles last year knelt during the national anthem nor did any of them stand in the locker room during the national anthem either. So they say that's not what this is about. It's simply that some of them did not agree with the president's policies. That is why they did not come to the White House. But the president is turning this back into something about the national anthem.
Now the mayor of Philadelphia issued a blistering statement about President Trump saying, that uninviting the Eagles from the White House only proves, quote, "that our president is not a true patriot but a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend."
So it's unclear what exactly the celebration today is going to look like, Poppy and Brianna. The president said a thousand people had been invited but I'm told by staffers inside the White House that they could easily see it being just a few dozen White House staffers here at the White House today.
HARLOW: Yes. One thing we know, the national anthem will be played at 3:00 at the White House today.
Kaitlan Collins, thank you very much. Bri.
KEILAR: Let's discuss this now with CNN's sports analyst Christine Brennan here with us.
You have actually been covering these where the winning teams go to the White House since the '80s. That's what you told me in the break.
CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Yes.
KEILAR: And have you ever seen anything like this?
BRENNAN: Never, never. But I guess if you call them SOBs in September, the players, their peers, whatever, their colleagues, you probably shouldn't be surprised that they don't want to show up at your house in June.
KEILAR: And to be clear, no Eagles players took a knee in protest during the regular season. So why is the White House do you think making this about kneeling?
BRENNAN: Because this is apparently a winning issue for Donald Trump. We actually know from his conversations with NFL owners, Bri, that he said this is a good issue for me and he wants to keep doing this. But this is something, as you mentioned, I've covered them since Ronald Reagan, I probably covered about 25 of these. And they're fun. They're a delight to cover. They're a joy for the president to get away from the Oval Office and the weight of the world and have fun as opposed to bringing the weight of the world into these celebrations as the president now -- President Trump has.
[09:05:01] But when you think about this, this is just one of those things where you can't believe that he's doing this but once again if the president makes this political, then you reap what you sow, and here you are with the invitees now of course saying we don't want to be a part of this.
KEILAR: So after the White House, after the president made it about kneeling, a lot of outlets including CNN reported this out, right? We point out, they didn't kneel during the regular season and then he tweets, "Staying in the locker room for the playing of our national anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling, sorry." No Eagles stayed in the locker room.
KEILAR: So this isn't -- what he's saying doesn't match with fact.
BRENNAN: Right. And that has been the case almost throughout this entire battle that he's had with the NFL and it really did start in that Alabama Senate race in September, last September, and as he has said, as we know from conversations within owners -- you know, telling owners, telling Joey Jones, this is a good issue for him. So really it doesn't appear that the facts about this team, the fact that he's picking on the Eagles, that that, as you said, none of the facts stand up to what his problem is with the Eagles and yet the Eagles I think are more of a symbol for him of the NFL and the anthem even though again as we know Kaepernick, it was never about the anthem.
BRENNAN: It was about social injustice.
KEILAR: It seems like, you know, it just came down to the players not wanting to go come. Right? But some of them did. Kaitlan Collins reported that somewhere between four and 10, this was what the White House was told yesterday, would be in attendance. Clearly not enough for President Trump who personally said, you know, that's not -- basically that's not going to cut it, I don't want to do this. But those four to 10 players, plus the coaches and others on the team,
other coaches on the team, they might have enjoyed coming and they won't have that opportunity now.
BRENNAN: Well, if we're talking photo ops which is what I think we are here, and obviously the players did not want to be a photo prop for the president, those who don't like the president. The flipside is, you would've had so many staffers, coaches, assistant coaches, others, that the picture itself if the president was worried about what it would like, Bri, the picture itself I think would have looked fine.
I think frankly most people going about their day would have paid absolutely no attention to what that picture looked like. Oh, the Eagles are at the White House. The same way the Olympic team was at the White House even though many were missing. The same way NFL teams and hockey teams and college teams have gone. I have watched -- I watched George W. Bush go team to team with spring sports teams including my alma mater Northwestern women's lacrosse.
And it was lovely. And he had a blast. I don't think he was going, there's four players missing and three missing from this track team and whatever. You know what I'm saying?
BRENNAN: And so Trump has picked this fight and now he has to live with the consequences, which we see now in display here, this is only June. The football season, of course, starts in earnest in September, but even in August with preseason games. So when we talked a few weeks ago about the whole anthem rule for the NFL and being a huge deal, I think this is just a precursor for what we're going to be seeing in the fall.
KEILAR: It's a really good point.
Christine Brennan, thank you so much. Really appreciate it. Poppy.
HARLOW: All right. So to the ongoing Russia investigation this morning, the president is blaming his Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself and going as far as to say he would have, quote, "quickly picked a different attorney general had he known."
Now this tweet comes just hours after Bob Mueller, the special counsel, has moved to jail the president's former campaign Paul Manafort for allegedly tampering with witnesses.
Our Evan Perez is in Washington with more.
You know, really serious, serious charges here, allegations against Manafort.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Poppy. Prosecutors want a judge to consider revoking Paul Manafort's bail for what they say were multiple attempts to get witnesses to lie in this case. Manafort is of course the former Trump campaign chairman and he's awaiting trial in Washington and in Virginia in federal court on financial crime charges.
The special counsel Robert Mueller said in court filings in Washington last night that Manafort used encrypted WhatsApp messages to try to encourage witnesses to perjure themselves in the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Prosecutors cited contacts that Manafort allegedly made including one -- some in late February when Manafort, quote, "repeatedly contacted two unnamed people who may be witnesses against him."
Now those two people had previously assisted in Manafort's lobbying and public relations efforts in the United States and in Europe on behalf of the pro-Russian government that was in power at the time in Ukraine.
Manafort's lawyers, by the way, have not commented on these allegations and he's pleaded not guilty in the charges that he faces here in D.C. and in Virginia. But the allegations, of course, add to the pressure for Manafort to possibly cut a deal and cooperate with prosecutors and as you mentioned, President Trump has taken to Twitter to repeat his attack on this investigation.
You can see the tweet that says, "The Russian witch hunt-hoax continues all because Jeff Sessions didn't tell me he was going to recuse himself. I would have quickly picked someone else."
[09:10:08] I won't read the rest of the tweet because, you know, what's the point, but he's referring to the Attorney General Jeff Sessions who's recused and you got to be -- you got to think that people like the special counsel's office, Poppy, this morning are printing out that tweet because, you know, they're looking into whether or not the president had any intention to obstruct this investigation when he repeatedly asked Jeff Sessions to unrecuse himself and this tweet is going to be in exhibit A there as they try to prove that case.
HARLOW: Yes. That's a very good point.
Evan Perez, appreciate the reporting on both fronts. Thank you.
Let's go through all of it with David Gergen, our senior political analyst, former presidential adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and President Clinton.
Glad you're here. Very glad you're here this morning. Let's just talk about the significance of that statement from the president this morning. For a White House that has a clear credibility issue, if not a lying issue, the president is being remarkably truthful and candid this morning.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: About Jeff Sessions.
HARLOW: But showing what prosecutors could argue, Mueller could argue, is intent in an obstruction charge. He's saying there, if you translate this, he's saying, I would've picked another attorney general if it would have stopped the Russia probe, is he not? GERGEN: Sure. That's exactly what he's saying there and he's been
dancing around obstruction charges here for a long time. You know, many lawyers think he's already obstructed. But I think the -- I think the significant development overnight was the charges against Manafort.
Here's the situation, Poppy. Manafort had already been charged with several federal crimes. He was going to go to jail unless he got a pardon or something like that. He after having all these charges against him, then committed new federal crimes, according to the briefing by going out and trying to tamper with witnesses. That's a big deal in criminal law to go tamper with witnesses, and now he's in a -- find a situation where they try to put him in jail.
So you have to conclude, first of all, that he had something big to cover up. He wouldn't have added additional charges to his list unless he had something really serious --
HARLOW: Put him in jail before his trial. That's --
GERGEN: Put him in jail before his trial.
GERGEN: And when he goes to jail that's going to significantly increase the possibility of flipping him.
HARLOW: On the White House and the credibility crisis at the White House, the dishonesty that's coming out of the White House. Listen to this exchange between Josh Dawsey of the "Washington Post" and Sarah Sanders yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSH DAWSEY, WASHINGTON POST: How are we supposed to know what to believe? How can we believe what you're saying from the podium if the lawyers are saying it's entirely inaccurate?
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Once again I can't comment on a letter from the president's outside counsel. I direct you to them to answer it. John?
DAWSEY: But, Sarah, the words are literally -- you said he did not dictate. The lawyer said he did. What is it?
SANDERS: I'm not going to respond to a letter from the president's outside counsel. We purposefully walled off and I would refer you to them for comment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Is it beyond a credibility crisis now? GERGEN: What Lyndon Johnson used to say, he didn't have a credibility
crisis, he had a canyon. And I think there's a canyon here growing that is very debilitating for the president. I mean, they went repeatedly before the cameras to the American people, to us, to everyone else saying the president had nothing to do with this letter and he just wasn't involved with it, now we know through his own White House counsel what they were telling us was a lie.
HARLOW: But what Rudy Giuliani says in this interview last night with Chris Cuomo.
HARLOW: Is, quote, "The most important thing is that there was no testimony under oath to that affect." I mean, at what point -- OK. It's not criminal to lie to the American public, although it could be used in an argument for intent toward obstruction.
HARLOW: But at what point, David, do voters, do Republican voters hold the president, hold the party responsible at the polls?
GERGEN: I'm not sure. At some point the Republican Party are going to have hold the Republican Party accountable to voters. And right now they are playing with fire on this question because increasingly you have a variety of Republicans like John Kasich and others coming out and saying this is -- and John Boehner, this is not a Republican Party, this is a Trump party. And guess what? Who's going to be voting in the future of the Republican Party? It's going to be the millennials. They're coming through a school now. The biggest generation in American history. This --
GERGEN: The millennials are turning against this president. They're turning against the Republican Party. There is no way the Republican Party can command majorities in the long-term future.
HARLOW: Let me ask you one question before you go quickly on former President Bill Clinton since you served as an adviser to him in the White House.
HARLOW: The way that he has handled the questions about the Me Too Movement, the Monica Lewinsky affair in the last 24 hours. He tried to clean up the mess that was made last night. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The truth is the hubbub, was I got hot under the collar because of the way the questions were asked, the suggestion was that I never apologized for what caused all the trouble for me 20 years ago. So the first point is, I did. I meant it then and I mean now, I apologize for my family, to Monica Lewinsky and her family and to the American people.
The second is that I support the Me Too movement and I think it's long overdue, and I have always tried to support it in the decisions and policies that I've advanced.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROOKE BALDWIN, HOST, NEWSROOM: Did he sufficiently clean it up and more importantly and broadly, is he a liability for Democrats to run, you know, to run with, to stand for them in the mid-terms and in 2020?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think It's mixed on that. No, I don't think he sufficiently cleaned it up. He's much more artful, the younger Bill Clinton would have, you know, nailed that, I think in a better way.
But he does have a point and now I'm biased. I thought President Clinton was a good president, and I worked for him. But I do think on this issue, he stumbled right from the beginning.
He's had a hard time before coming to grips with it, coming straightforwardly with it, he would just be so much better off, he'd serve himself a lot better if he just come clean to begin with.
You know, and hadn't gone through the whole mumbo jumbo and all the -- it depends on what the meaning of the word is, is and that sort of thing. But I do think he's got also got a point about the fact that as President on issues, he was very steadfastly in favor of the empowerment of women.
He appointed a lot of women, and he stood for them, he stood for Valerie(ph) Lee, he got that done, so but his personal behavior, you know, especially with Monica, obviously objectionable.
BALDWIN: Appreciate your time, David Gergen --
GERGEN: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Thank you very much. All right, a lot more ahead on the president's attack on his Attorney General Jeff Sessions. many legal questions we have to get to, our experts are next.
And just days before President Trump is set to try and make nice with North Korea, sources telling Cnn he can't keep the peace among two key members of his national security team. We're going to tell you about the growing rift.
Plus, minutes from now, Harvey Weinstein is back in a New York courtroom set to plead not guilty. We will bring that to you live.
[9:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're following two major headlines on the Russia investigation. This morning, President Trump suggesting he would have picked another Attorney General who could have blocked the probe and the special counsel is accusing the president's ex-campaign Manager Paul Manafort of tampering with witnesses.
BALDWIN: Joining us now is Mike Rogers; Cnn national security commentator and former House Intel Chairman. Laura Coates is also here; a legal analyst and a former federal prosecutor.
Nice to have you both here, I just discussed with David Gergen how severe he thinks the potential -- whatever Manafort was trying to tamper with for, Laura, cover up. He thinks it could be very severe that he was willing to risk being thrown in jail even before his trial.
Could you talk to us about what tampering with a witness allegedly, two witnesses, in this case according to Mueller could look like?
LAURA COATES, LEGAL ANALYST: Certainly. You have two phrases, one is called kind of influencing or intimidating, the other is supporting perjury, those essentially are --
BALDWIN: I can't hear Laura, can you guys?
COATES: Are you able to hear me now?
BALDWIN: Now, I can.
COATES: OK, well, there's two different schools of thought in terms of tampering with a witness. One is the idea of supporting perjury, meaning, you're trying to get them to provide false testimony in an effort to get your story straight, to have a consistent narrative that's other than the truth.
The other notion is to intimidate or try to influence them and try to ensure that they're not able to give a comprehensive or truthful testimony. It can be in the form of physical violence or intimidation, but often times you're talking about a case like this, it's much more about trying to secure that false testimony.
Saying, listen, here's what I have said, I'd like you to say the same thing, therefore I am not accused of lying and we have our stories straight, neither of us will be able to have a problem.
We can both have a fall on our swords here. So that's likely what's been going on here. Either way, it's a form of obstruction. It's under that umbrella of terminology and violations of the law that says you were trying to interfere with the administration of justice.
You're trying to undermine the ability of an investigator to get information, a grand jury to have all the information they need and a court of law to be able to try you fairly.
BALDWIN: And Chairman Rogers, I wonder if you agree with Adam Schiff. Let's listen to what he said to Chris Cuomo last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: The special counsel team is not going to do this unless they have pretty darn iron clad evidence that Manafort is trying to essentially corrupt these witnesses.
So it's a big development and I think a sign that Manafort is willing to try anything, do anything and he's facing some serious time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So is the ranking member on the Intel Committee, your former committee and he's also a former prosecutor worth noting. Do you agree with him?
MIKE ROGERS, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Well, in this case I think he's right. If you actually read the application, two things struck me. One is that it appears that the people that Manafort was talking to or cooperating with the prosecution -- matter of fact, they used statements that they believe the people that Manafort was talking to were -- they both believe that he was trying to influence their testimony.
That's pretty damning in and of itself. And the fact that they kept coming back at him and then used a cut-out to try to go back at those folks to influence their testimony. I think he's in real trouble as you read the application that was provided by Mueller --
BALDWIN: What do you mean a cut-out?
ROGERS: They had a third person. So he had somebody that -- Manafort -- it was identified, I think it's person A --
BALDWIN: Yes --
[9:25:00] ROGERS: In the application, so the name wasn't identified. But he was using person A to also deliver the message that here's what he's been saying, this is the kind of testimony and he wanted them to understand his idea of what that meant, meaning that only the money that they were talking about in this case was going to the EU, not the United States.
Well, that is the same thing. You're still trying to influence someone to influence the people's testimony as they would go in either to the grand jury or even an interview by an FBI agent. So it's really serious.
There's a lot of documentation there. I would be surprised if he doesn't go directly to jail and doesn't collect his 200 bucks before this is over.
BALDWIN: Yes, this isn't monopoly, right? A lot more at stake here.
ROGERS: Yes --
BALDWIN: Laura, to you on the president's words, what he wrote just moments ago about his Attorney General Jeff Sessions. I don't need to read you the whole tweet, we heard a little bit earlier, but he says that he would have got -- picked a different attorney general if he knew that Sessions would have recused himself and he directly -- though, this time what makes it different, Laura, is that he ties it directly to the ongoing Russia quote, "witch-hunt" he calls it or investigation.
Evan points out -- Evan Perez from our Justice team, Mueller's team will be looking at this tweet incredibly carefully and it will be exhibit A for them. And you've got to think, intent and a potential obstruction charge. What stands out to you?
COATES: Both of those things. You know, when you're pointing your finger to somebody, three at least point back to you, and the president of the United States fails to understand that very elementary thought process because as he's talking about the recusal of Jeff Sessions, this was all anticipated, had they understood or read the regulations and the codes that dictated that somebody who was a part of a campaign could not oversee an investigation into that campaign.
This is a simple matter of vetting, number one, number two, it's also an issue of I believe as the person who is overseeing the executive branch of government, whose job it is to enjoy the laws are faithfully executed would like to have an investigation that goes under way, that's not tampered with, that's not influenced in an undue manner and would not have somebody who has a basis for recusal to remain because it would taint the entire process of the investigation at least in the eyes of the American people and certainly in a court of law.
So on all fronts, these are self-inflicted wounds that further delays, frankly, poppy, the investigation because with every single tweet, every single statement the president of the United States invites further scrutiny and he will get it.
BALDWIN: Thank you guys so much, Laura Coates --
COATES: Thank you --
BALDWIN: Really appreciate it, and former House Intel Chairman Mike Rogers with us, thank you, thank you both --
COATES: Thank you.
BALDWIN: All right, so from the coffee house to the White House, Howard Schultz is stepping down as Starbucks executive chairman later this month. That is fueling speculation he may be considering a bid for the White House. We asked him that on this show just last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is 2020 out of the question for you, Howard Schultz?
HOWARD SCHULTZ, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, STARBUCKS: Are we going to go there again?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As someone who talks about -- in any way, not just as president. Is there any way that serving in the government is still in your mind for 2020?
SCHULTZ: What I would say is that I'm as concerned an American citizen as I ever have been. I want to be as involved as I possibly can as a citizen to help the country. I don't know what that's going to mean in the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: It has long been thought that he may make a run for the White House. There he is on the cover of "Time" just a few years ago. The box unchecked, candidate 2016. So our two business correspondents Christine Romans -- he wasn't candidate 2016, but will he be candidate 2020?
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, he's been asked this question so many times, poppy, in part because of his sort of progressive stances on so many things.
For a long time CEOs in this country, just cared about shareholder value, and for 36 years, he's been the public face of Starbucks, stepping down last year as the CEO, now he's going to leave as executive chairman.
But where does he channel that energy on things like gay marriage, immigration, workers' rights? Those are the kinds of things that he's been a champion of that have fueled these political -- these political questions.
Also, fair to say that this environment today, Donald Trump, a businessman as president has sort of changed the narrative here and that's something that Howard Schultz even mentioned on "Cnbc".
Before now, you had Herbert Hoover, the only real businessman president and then Donald Trump. And it's raised this question, will you run for president? We have heard it asked of so many business leaders, Howard Schultz, certainly, you've asked him, I've asked him, but also Bob Iger, Mark Zuckerberg, Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, the media mogul Opera Winfrey.
Remember that buzz about would she run -- Mark Cuban, and there are others in part because almost Democrats on the left are looking for their kind of Donald Trump equivalent, but with their world view and their values, and they've started to look at corporate America for some of those faces.
[9:30:00] Howard Schultz is certainly the name everyone is talking about today, he says he does want to serve his country in some, maybe public service capacity, so he's not really ruling it out here, we'll see what the future holds, poppy.
In terms of the opening bell here, maybe a little bit of a flat to slightly higher, they had a very good rally yesterday, record highs for the Nasdaq probably, so tech stocks did very well.