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House Immigration Vote; Trump Takes Questions Before Summit; Trump on Russia at G-7; Trump Talks Pardons; Trump's Preparation for North Korea. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 8, 2018 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Want to get his comments.

But, in the meantime, let's you and I talk. Are you on the verge of a breakthrough today?

REP. CARLOS CURBELO (R), FLORIDA: Alisyn, good morning from the Capitol, where many are saddened today at the news of Anthony Bourdain, but where there is a ray of optimism when it comes to immigration because it appears that the House will act on immigration in the coming weeks one way or the other. And two very good things are happening right now. As we heard from the speaker, he is working on building a compromise among House Republicans. We're engaged with that effort. We think it's been worthwhile. We've had very positive discussions.

At the same time, we have this discharge petition instrument, which is very powerful and which is on the verge of having the 218 signatures that it needs. That would also guarantee a vote on the House floor. So we're working on both these tracks.

And this is important to Americans who want to see more border security, put an end to the drug trafficking and the human trafficking at our southwest border to Americans who want to find a solution for the DACA population, these young immigrants who were brought to our country as children and who are contributing so much to this country.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

CURBELO: And for many Americans who would like to see both. And I include myself. So we are on the verge of meaningful action in the House for the first time in a long time. And that's something to celebrate.

CAMEROTA: Are you going to get those three votes? Are you confident that you're going to get those three votes or have you gone as far as you can with making this effort happen?

CURBELO: No. I certainly think -- and I know there are Republicans who are willing to sign, they're just --

CAMEROTA: OK, congressman, I'm so sorry to do this to you.

CURBELO: I understand. CAMEROTA: If you would stand by, we do have the president walking out right now.

Let's listen to him.

QUESTION: Is the Comey report going to be your birthday present?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it seems that it's coming out on my birthday. Maybe that's appropriate. Let's see if it is.

Look, he's a very dishonest man. I've been saying it for a long time. I think I did our country a great fire -- a really great favor when I fired him. And we'll see what happens. We'll see what the report says.

But I guess it just got announced it's coming out on June 14th. So that will be maybe a nice birthday present. Who knows.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: We're going to deal with the unfair trade practices. If you look at what Canada and Mexico, the European Union, all of them have been doing to us for many, many decades, we have to change it. And they understand it's going to happen.

QUESTION: What are you going to do (INAUDIBLE)?

TRUMP: We are going to do very well.

Now, if we're unable to make a deal, we'll terminate NAFTA. We'll have a better deal. If we are unable to make a deal, we will be better off. Right now we are not going to live with the deals the way they are. European Union treats us very unfairly. Canada, very unfairly. Mexico, very unfairly. With that being said, I think we'll probably very easily make a deal.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Were you serious about really not needing to prepare for the Kim summit (INAUDIBLE)?

TRUMP: No, I didn't say that. I said I've been preparing all my life. I always believe in preparation. But I've been preparing all my life.

You know, these one week preparations, they don't work. Just ask Hillary what happened to her in the debates.

So I've been preparing for this all my life. And, frankly, it's really just the fake news because if you run, Peter, just a little bit longer the clip you would see I've really been preparing all my life. I said that. But, of course, you know, the news doesn't pick that up because it's fake news.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE). TRUMP: It's very interesting that they caught a leaker in a very important -- it's a very important leaker. So it's very interesting. I'm getting information on it now. It happened last night. It could be a terrific thing. I know I believe strongly in freedom of the press. I'm a big, big believer in freedom of the press. But I'm also a believer in classified information. It has to remain classified. And that includes Comey and his band of thieves who leaked classified information all over the place. So I'm a very big believer in freedom of the press, but I'm also a believer that you cannot leak classified information.

QUESTION: Do you have a reaction to Anthony Bourdain's passing?

TRUMP: Yes, I think it's very sad. In fact, I want to extend to his family my heartfelt condolences. That was very shocking, when I woke up this morning, Anthony Bourdain is dead. And I enjoyed his show. He was quite a character, I will say. But -- so I just want to extend my condolences. And, also, to the family of Kate Spade.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: Say (ph)?

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: It may be. You could call it anything you want. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what you call it. It used to be the G-8 because Russia was in it. And now Russia's not in it.

[08:35:10] Now, I love our country. I have been Russia's worst nightmare. If Hillary got in, I think Putin is probably going, man, I wish Hillary won, because you see what I do. But with that being said, Russia should be in this meeting. Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting? And I would recommend -- and it's up to them, but Russia should be in the meeting. It should be a part of it.

You know, whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run. And in the G-7, which used to be the G-8, they threw Russia out, they should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: Say it. What?

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: I may leave a little bit early. It depends on the timing. But I may leave a little bit early. And it depends what happens here.

Look, all of these countries have been taking advantage of the United States on trade. You saw where Canada charges our dairy farmers 270 percent tariffs. We don't charge them. Or, if we do, it's like a tiny percentage. So we have to -- we have to straighten it out. We -- we have massive trade deficits with almost every country. We will straighten that out. And I'll tell you what, it's what I do. It won't even be hard. And, in

the end, we'll all get along. But they understand. and, you know, they're trying to act like, well, we fought with you in the war. They don't mention the fact that they have trade barriers against our farmers. They don't mention the fact that they're charging almost 300 percent tariffs. When it all straightens out, we'll all be in love again.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: There will be more pardons. I thought Alice yesterday was beautiful. I thought Jack Johnson, which was recommended by Sylvester Stallone and some great boxers, I thought Jack Johnson was a great one. I'm thinking about somebody that you all know very well, and he went through a lot, and he wasn't very popular then.

QUESTION: Is it OJ?

TRUMP: And he wasn't very popular then. No, I'm not thinking about OJ. But he's not -- only you could say OJ. But he's a -- he was -- look, he was not very popular then. He certainly -- his memory is very popular now. I'm thinking about Muhammad Ali. I'm thinking about that very seriously. And some others. And some folks that have sentences that aren't fair. But I am thinking about Muhammad Ali.

QUESTION: What will it take for you to fire --

TRUMP: In fact, we're doing right now recommendations on frankly -- you know, frankly, we're doing recommendations on Muhammad Ali.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: Say it, Peter. What?

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) you are above the law?

TRUMP: No. No. No, I'm not above the law. I never want anybody to be above the law. But the pardons are a very positive thing for a president. I think you see the way I'm using them. And, yes, I do have an absolute right to pardon myself. But I'll never have to do it, because I didn't do anything wrong. And everybody knows it.

There's been no collusion. There's been no obstruction. It's all a made up fantasy. It's a witch hunt. No collusion, no obstruction, no nothing.

Now, the Democrats have had massive collusion, massive obstruction, and they should be investigated. We'll see what's happening.

Yes?

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: I haven't even -- I haven't even thought about it. I haven't even thought -- I haven't thought about any of it. It -- certainly it's far too early to be thinking about that. QUESTION: Mr. President --

TRUMP: They haven't been convicted of anything. There's nothing to pardon. It's far too early to be -- it is far too early to be thinking about it.

QUESTION: Mr. President, what will it take for you to actually fire Scott Pruitt (INAUDIBLE)?

TRUMP: Well, Scott Pruitt is doing a great job within the walls of the EPA. I mean we're setting records. Outside, he's being attacked very viciously by the press. And I'm not saying that he's blameless, but we'll see what happens.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) embarrassed (INAUDIBLE) not fire him?

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: That's what I want to do. We have 3,000 names. We're looking at them. Of the 3,000 names, many of those names really have been treated unfairly. You know, this is a group of 3,000 that we've assembled. And I would get more thrill out of pardoning people that nobody knows, like Alice yesterday. I thought Kim Kardashian was great because she brought Alice to my attention.

[08:40:04] Alice was so great. And the way she left that jail and the tears and the love that she has with her family, I mean, to me, that was better than any celebrity that I can pardon.

So we're looking at it. But we are looking at literally thousands of names of people that have come to our attention that have been treated unfairly, or where their sentence is far too long.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: I didn't invite him. No, I didn't invite LeBron James. And I didn't invite Steph Curry. We're not going to invite either team. But we have other teams that are coming. You know, if you look, we had Alabama, national champion. We had Clemson, national champion. We had the New England Patriots. We had the Pittsburgh Penguins last year. I think we'll have the Caps. I mean, we'll see. You know, my attitude, if they want to be here, it's the greatest place on earth, I'm here. If they don't want to be here, I don't want them.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: I think if you look at what Paul Ryan is saying, it didn't come out that way. The fact is, they had people in our campaign. They had people doing things that have never been done in the history of this country. And it really is a disgrace. And, frankly, that stuff is just starting to come out.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: Fire who?

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: We'll see what happens. We'll see what happens.

QUESTION: What do you think about Mitt Romney now saying you're a shoe-in to win again?

TRUMP: Mitt Romney said what?

QUESTION: Romany said you're going to find it easy to win again.

TRUMP: Well, we're doing well. Look, Mitt's a straight shooter. Whether people love him or don't love him, Mitt --

QUESTION: Well, he called you a con man last time.

TRUMP: Mitt Romney is a straight shooter. And, yes, he had some very nice thing to say. I appreciate that. That's good.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: I love Canada, but they treat us very unfairly on trade. Very, very unfairly. You see the numbers. Almost 300 percent on dairy. So, they treat us very unfairly.

Are you guys all going? You better get going, Peter, we'll leave without you.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: I would only do a deal if I get it through Congress. I wouldn't do like Obama did. And, fortunately, he wasn't able to get it through. You know, he tried to get it through, the Iran deal. He tried to get it through Congress, failed. So he just did it without, which is why I was able to break it up so easy.

And Iran is now a different country. They're not looking to the Mediterranean anymore. Iran is now a much different company -- country since I did. Since is signed that out, Iran is a much different country.

QUESTION: Do you support Senator Gardner's marijuana (INAUDIBLE) bill?

TRUMP: I really do. I support Senator Gardner. I know exactly what he's doing. We're looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting that, yes.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: The first lady is great. Right there. She has to -- and she wanted to go. Can't fly for one month. The doctors say. She had a big operation. That was a -- close to a four hour operation. And she's doing great. Right there. And, you know what, she is a great first lady.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: Terrible. That's -- we'll be talking to them, but that's terrible.

OK, any other questions?

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: Was one of my lawyers -- incredible that you can break into a lawyer's office. That's one thing I can say. And I think that was unfortunate that they broke into a lawyer's office. Not a good practice.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: Well, the Democrats -- this is a Democrat bill. The Democrats can end that very quickly. All they have to do is sit down with us and negotiate the real bill that allows us to keep criminals out of this country. It's very easy. You know, Schumer is a guy, he complains, but he doesn't do anything. Schumer's a guy who's an obstructer. He can't do anything. All he can do is obstruct. All they have to do is call us and we'll draw a bill that gives us great border safety and security and is fair because I don't like these children being separated from the parents. I don't like it. I hate it. But that's a Democrat bill that we're enforcing. We can change it in one day. All they have to do is come and see us.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: I can't hear your question, too much competition. Go ahead. No, you're not prepared. You -- I can't believe she's not prepared. See, they're shocked, right?

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

[08:45:07] TRUMP: We'll bring it up. Yes, we'll bring it up.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: I have work. I have about 15 boxes of work. I will be able to work without being bothered by phone calls where you people are writing fake stories about me and we have to respond.

Now, seriously, I mean, I have a lot of work. It's on the plane. So (INAUDIBLE).

QUESTION: Are you worried at all about the things that Rudy's saying in Israel? Are they giving you any headaches?

TRUMP: Look, Rudy is great. But Rudy is Rudy. But Rudy is doing a very good job actually. Doing a very good job.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: He said what?

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: I'm not going to disagree with him on that. QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: I can't hear a word he's saying.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: No, he wasn't, but I like Dennis. A great rebounder. You know, when you think, Dennis was a great rebounder and he wasn't relatively speaking that tall. So that tells you, you know, there's a rebounding -- there's a genius for that. Dennis Rodman was a great rebounder.

One thing we are thinking about -- speaking of sports stars -- the power to pardon is a beautiful thing. You got to get it right. You've got to get the right people. I am looking at Muhammad Ali. But those are the famous people. And in one way it's easier and people find it fascinating. But I want to do people that are unfairly treated, like an Alice, where she comes out -- and there's something beautiful.

What I am thinking to do, you have a lot of people in the NFL in particular, but in sports leagues, they're not proud enough to stand for our national anthem. I don't like that. What I'm going to do is I'm going to say to them, instead of talk, it's all talk, talk, talk. We have a great country. You should stand for our national anthem. You shouldn't go in a locker room when our national anthem is played.

I am going to ask all of those people to recommend to me -- because that's what their protesting -- people that they think were unfairly treated by the justice system. And I understand that. And I'm going to ask them to recommend to me people that were unfairly treated. Friends of theirs or people they know about. And I'm going to take a look at those applications. And if I find -- and my committee finds that they're unfairly treated, then we will pardon them or at least let them out.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: You know, I don't have to do that. I'm not looking to grandstand. We've got enough grandstanders in this town. I'm just saying, for the leagues, if they have people -- if the players, if the athletes have friends of theirs or people that they know about that have been unfairly treated by the system, let me know.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: Well, you know, if you think about it, that's really -- that becomes celebrity advocates. But they know a lot of things that we're not going to know. They've -- they've seen a lot of abuse and they've seen a lot of unfairness. So, if they have, how do you like that idea, David?

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: Oh, no, I have the absolute right. I don't have to do it. Never did anything wrong. And you know that better than anybody.

QUESTION: Are you concerned about the (INAUDIBLE). TRUMP: I think you have a double edge. Reporters can't leak. You cannot leak classified information. At the same time, we need freedom of the press. But you cannot leak. Like Hillary Clinton did, like Comey did, you cannot leak classified information. If you look at the young sailor (INAUDIBLE), I mean he went to jail over not classified, a much lower level. And it's very unfair that he goes to jail and that Comey is allowed to do it all over. Very unfair.

Thank you much. I'll see you in Canada.

CAMEROTA: OK, you've been listening to President Trump there riffing on a wide range of subjects. That's the longest I can remember him speaking directly to reporters for a while now.

BERMAN: It's a 20 minute running news conference.

CAMEROTA: Yes, that was. So reporters asked him the spectrum of news. I mean everything from pardons, to North Korea, to the G-7, to -- I mean just it went on and on, including we got a headline there about the first lady's health.

So let's bring back our panel. We have David Chalian, Tony Blinken, and Jeffrey Toobin, who's been here in studio watching it with us. There are many headlines. Which one would you like to talk about?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Um, goodness.

I think one of the most interesting things was the return -- he wants the return of Russia to the G-7, used to be the G-8.

CAMEROTA: Make it the G-8.

TOOBIN: And, you know, this is yet another example of how he has been favorable towards Russia. I mean, this is something Russia wants very much. Vladimir Putin was deeply offended to be thrown out of the G-8 because of his annexation in --

[08:50:14] CAMEROTA: Crimea.

TOOBIN: In -- of -- and the whole Ukraine policy. And, you know, Putin's winning with Trump in office.

CAMEROTA: Speaking of him, in fact, more favorably, and John has pointed out, and Kim Jong-un more favorably than the allies of, you know, Macron and Canada today and the E.U.

TOOBIN: I mean the contrast between the way he talks about our allies, France, Canada, and the way he talks about Kim Jong-un, who is one of the worst leaders in recent world history, is one of the amazing things about this president.

BERMAN: Yes, there were so many different topics to move on to, I'm just going to try to go through some more of them.

David Chalian, to you. To me, this was a supremely confident President Trump walking on to

Marine One to begin this trip. You know, he was going to answer whatever you asked him. And he felt 100 percent sure that what he said was, you know, wasn't going to, you know, be controversial, or at least if it was he was proud to say it.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Exactly.

BERMAN: You know, he talked about James Comey again in harsh words. What stuck out to you?

CHALIAN: Well, overall, I share your impression there. This is somebody who's very happy with the way he has positioned himself as he hits the world stage, both at the G-7 and in Singapore for the North Korea summit. All of the swirl of controversy around it all, he seems pretty pleased with where he's at.

I think there were a few things there. One thing that stuck out at me was this pardon issue, which he talked about quite a bit throughout that entire press availability. He said he -- it sounded like he said he's looking at 3,000 non-violent drug offenders, perhaps to go through some sort of a process and see if he can issue pardons. He said he doesn't want to just do celebrities, and yet he time and time again kept attaching himself to one of the most famous and beloved celebrities that has ever lived, Muhammad Ali, and that he's very much considering a pardon for him.

CAMEROTA: All right, Tony Blinken, your impressions? What jumped out at you?

TONY BLINKEN, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, you know, I'll put two things together. The president was talking about pardons, but it sounds like he's already pardoned Vladimir Putin. And to go back to where Jeff was, this is really quite extraordinary.

And, you know, we got, as in almost any statement the president makes, at some point that no collusion came in. And, you know, Bob Mueller's going to figure that out.

But the point really is that, forget about what happened in the past, Mueller will figure that out, there's collusion right now in terms of advancing Russia's most profound objectives. When he says that he's Vladimir Putin's biggest nightmare, it's exactly the opposite. He's -- the president's managing to divide us from our own allies, exactly what President Putin would like to see happen. So I think what I take away from this mostly is, this is a very good day for Vladimir Putin.

BERMAN: You know, Jeffrey, he would not rule out pardoning Paul Manafort or Michael Cohen. He was asked. You know, wouldn't rule it out. Wouldn't rule out pardoning himself, although he says he's not going to need to in any way.

TOOBIN: Right.

BERMAN: Again, also talked about James Comey. And then Rudy, his personal attorney, who said all kinds of things overseas, the president doesn't seem to have any problem with it. He basically said, Rudy is Rudy.

TOOBIN: Rudy is Rudy. Well, and, you know, it is worth remembering that President Obama, remember him, he was the one before Trump, he said -- he had a policy where he issued commutation to more than a thousand non-violent drug offenders where there was an orderly process through the Justice Department. So the idea that you might pardon non- violent drug offenders is one that I think is an admirable one. It's a good one. I hope the president continues it. It's not a new idea.

What's a new idea is this one by one celebrity sponsored pardons. And also what's new is this idea of pardoning dead people. Jack Johnson. Potentially Muhammad Ali, you know, which are symbolic and interesting, but of relatively little practical significance.

CHALIAN: John, can we go back to the Russia investigation comments that he made for just one second? Just to note, the president tweeted this morning that he was on his way to the G-7 and on to North Korea and he's done -- he's going to be done talking for a while now about what he calls a witch hunt or the Russia hoax. I'm not -- I didn't clock how long that lasted, that silence on that topic, but he was all too eager to take the questions and answer and assert no collusion, no obstruction and talk about the investigation.

CAMEROTA: Yes. He did avoid the word "spy," though, David. He danced around it. And he said that things are going to come out. They did something in my campaign you've never seen before in the history of the country. But he didn't use the word "spy." I thought that was just notable because so many Republicans have come out and, you know, broken with what has been their practice thus far to say like, no, actually, there's no evidence of that.

CHALIAN: We'll see if that lasts. You don't usually see Donald Trump retreat from any of the theories that he puts forth, no matter how baseless they are and without fact that they are. But you're right to note that, Alisyn. Perhaps he will look to see if he continues to sort of alter that language because of that blowback. That would be out of character for the president.

[08:55:12] BERMAN: Tony, there was -- there was an extraordinary exchange toward the beginning there where the president was asked about comments he made that are recorded for the whole world to see that he's not doing much more preparation for the North Korea summit because it's not about preparation, it's about attitude. He told a reporter, Peter Alexander (ph) I think from his voice, that he never really said it. That he always believes in preparation. He's been preparing his whole life for this.

BLINKEN: You know, the truth is, it's both. He's right that you want to gauge the person on the other side of the table. But hopefully you've actually backed that up with a tremendous amount of preparation because this is incredibly complicated stuff. And we know for sure that Kim Jong-un's been preparing. He knows the file. I hope the president does too because if you're going to get into a negotiation, you better know the facts, you better know what you're talking about.

You know, when he says he's been preparing his whole life, I don't think he was giving much thought to North Korea in his -- in his previous career. Hopefully he's actually digested some of this stuff now. But when he says that, you know, I'm -- I'm thinking, when I was in government, boy, I sure wasted a lot of time reading those briefing books and spending all this time in meeting with President Obama preparing him for his meetings with foreign leaders.

TOOBIN: And, you know, it's just worth -- you know, this whole issue of preparation. You know, the president says, I've been preparing his whole life. But, you know what, when you're talking about denuclearization, you have to know what factories, what do they make, how are nuclear weapons assembled, what is necessary for each -- how long does it take to de-assemble, how many different facilities are there involved in the production of nuclear weapons?

CAMEROTA: Why are you bothering us with details?

BERMAN: Ultimately that --

TOOBIN: Well, I mean, this is -- you know, this is the stuff you need to know if you're going to negotiate about this.

BERMAN: I would say also exactly what North Korea has agreed to in the past. Does he know the details of the various agreements that North Korea has made (INAUDIBLE)?

CAMEROTA: Oh, come on, guys, none of this is going to happen at this talk.

BERMAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: This is not how the president prepares. This is not how the president negotiates. He's transactional. He'll going to go in with some sort of big, overarching issue, are you going to do this? Kim Jong-un's going to say whatever he says. And then they're going to shake hands and have a photo op and it's going to be historic and that's it.

TOOBIN: Well -- well, that maybe. I mean, that may be. But the question is, will there be a safer North Korea? And without knowing the details of what North Korea will or will not do, we don't know whether there will be any actual difference in the real world.

CAMEROTA: That remains to be seen.

BERMAN: All right, Jeffrey, Tony, David, thanks so much for being with us.

CHALIAN: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: A very, very busy morning here at CNN to be sure.

CAMEROTA: And a very sad morning.

BERMAN: A very sad morning.

CAMEROTA: The horrible breaking news about our friend, Anthony Bourdain, who died last night. We have been trying to wrap our heads around it, as the entire CNN family has. And, obviously, we'll be covering that as well.

So CNN "NEWSROOM" with Pamela Brown will pick up after this very quick break.

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