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Judge Approves AT&T Merger; Rosenstein to Call for Investigation; Sanford Loses GOP Primary; Stewart Wins GOP Primary; Female Candidates Win House Races. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 13, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump strongly opposed the merger. The judge warning the Justice Department, though, not to seek a stay on the now approved deal.

Joining us, CNN's senior media correspondent Brian Stelter and CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who was in the courtroom when that ruling was announced.

I would say it is pretty clear from this ruling that we know exactly how this judge feels, Jeffrey.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: That's for sure. I mean, you know, this was obviously a closely watched case, but it was not a closed case. Judge Richard Leon just blew out of the water all of the government's arguments against this merger. He did not address and he did not include in the case the issue of political interference, the issue of whether Donald Trump's antipathy for CNN led the government to bring this case. That issue is still out there. I mean it is a worthy subject of investigation, especially since the case failed so spectacularly, the question of why this case was brought at all. But, as of now, this merger is going to close next week unless the government can persuade the court of appeals to issue a stay. And that seems like pretty much of a long shot at this point.

HILL: And, as you pointed out, too, the judge making it very clear, he did not advise that that would be a very smart move.

But when it comes to whether or not the president had a certain amount of influence here with the decision to even bring this, obviously to the court, you know, Brian, you and I were talking about this briefly. There is a FOIA request out there. There's a lot of -- there's a lot of questions about would we would -- whatever even really know. I mean a lot of people like to point to the possibility. Sure it makes for a good sound byte, especially depending on where you sit politically. But whether or not there's some real fact there, that's still up for debate.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Right. This is one of those cases where there's a lot of circumstantial evidence but no proof that the president was playing politics and getting involved in the DOJ decision making. What we know for sure is that he opposed the deal. We know he has a pattern of complaining about the DOJ, or wanting the DOJ to take certain action. We know that Makan Delrahim, who is the antitrust division chief who led this lawsuit that failed, we know that he didn't really see problems with the deal when it was announced, but then once he was hired by Trump and promoted to run the antitrust division, suddenly he did have big problems with this deal.

Now, this could come down to something very simple. Career officials inside the Justice Department that felt this deal was bad for consumers. That's what the DOJ say happened. Those career officials made a non-partisan, non-political determination. But the judge, of course, yesterday, rejected their arguments and threw that out.

I do think, as Jeffrey said, this is something that's going to merit more scrutiny in the future. Again, through a FOIA request, through other processes. Maybe we'll find out more about possible political interference by the president or his aides. I thought it was notable yesterday, Time Warner came out with a very strong statement saying this was political, this was baseless and the case never should have been brought. The language was never that strong during the trial but now that there's been a victory in court, Time Warner is saying this was political.

HILL: Right. And what we still say on this for another (INAUDIBLE), this now too opens the door for a number of other mega mergers, Brian.

STELTER: Yes, Comcast is likely to bid for Fox as soon as today or tomorrow. That's the part of 21st Century Fox that Rupert Murdock is selling. Right now he's selling it to Disney, but Comcast is going to make a higher bid. We're also going to see other consolidation, not just in media, but in other businesses, other industries as well because this was kind of like a -- the starting gun. This was the beginning of what's going to be another round of consolidation now that companies have been given a green light by this judge.

HILL: We'll see how all that plays out.

I want to shift gears here for a minute and, Jeff, I'd really love to get your take on this.

So we're learning that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is now calling on the House to investigate some of its staff over reports of these heated meetings on Russia. A staffer telling Fox News that he felt personally attacked by Rosenstein back in January. The DOJ says there was no formal complaint about Rosenstein' behavior.

But when we look at the way all of this is playing out, of course, leading up to Rosenstein, who was about to brief the president on the inspector general's report over the FBI's handling of the Hillary Clinton email saga, how unusual is it that we're seeing these headlines at the same time, Jeff?

TOOBIN: Well, I mean, it's really an extraordinary situation. I mean as many people may remember, Rod Rosenstein has been a great target of President Trump. He has -- you know, he was the one who appointed Robert Mueller. He is the one who's protecting Mueller's independence and Trump hates that.

Trump's allies, in the House of Representatives, are attacking Rosenstein as well. Here we have a situation where Rosenstein is fighting back. Where he's saying, look, you know, how -- I will not be beaten up by staff members in the House of Representatives and they need to be disciplined. I mean I think it shows that Rosenstein is continuing to show his independence and he is continuing to defy the president and his allies when they are -- when they're attacking him. He also may get fired at some point. I mean he is living on the knife's edge.

[08:35:04] HILL: And, of course, he's going to be briefing the president on this report from the inspector general. What are we expecting to see in that?

TOOBIN: Well, I mean, this is a report that is likely to be, at least in part, very pleasing to President Trump because it evaluates the conduct of James Comey, the director of the FBI, in the way he conducted the Hillary Clinton investigation and the way he disclosed it. And it's likely to include a good deal of criticism of Comey and other members of the Obama Justice Department. So this can be at least one area probably where Rosenstein is delivering good news to the president tomorrow. And we're going to get -- we're going to see it publicly at some point during the day tomorrow.

HILL: All right, Jeff and Brian, appreciate it. Thank you both.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Erica, another Trump critic GOP congressman, Mark Sanford, just lost his bid in South Carolina. Is that a warning to others?


[08:40:05] CAMEROTA: OK, election update for you. Results are in from primaries in five states last night. Republican Congressman Mark Sanford, a Trump critic, was defeated in South Carolina. That's another sign that GOP voters are rejecting some lawmakers who break with President Trump.

CNN political reporter Rebecca Berg is live in Washington with more.

So, how do you see all this, Rebecca?

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, the message loud and clear from last night from the result in the first district of South Carolina is that Republicans who criticized the president do so at their own political peril. The results very clearly in favor of Representative Mark Sanford's opponent, Katie Arrington, a state lawmaker who throughout the race criticized his vocal opposition to President Trump.

Now, Mark Sanford is extremely conservative, which makes this primary so unusual. He wasn't being challenged because he wasn't conservative enough and he's also a political survivor. He survived a scandal as governor visiting a mistress in Argentina to come back and win this seat for Congress. But his vocal opposition to Trump ended up being his political undoing. The president tweeting yesterday, before the polls closed, that Sanford had been very unhelpful to his agenda and that he was throwing his support behind Arrington, Sanford's opponent. We don't know how much of an impact that tweet had on the race. Of

course, Trump was an issue throughout the race. Arrington raised Sanford's opposition to him. But Sanford said last night that he stood by his remarks. Take a listen to this.


REP. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It may have cost me the election in this case, but I stand by every one of those decisions to disagree with the president because I didn't think, at the ends of the day, was either concurrent with the promises I made when I first ran for offices or the voices of the very people of the first district that I represent.


BERG: But, nevertheless, Sanford just the latest in a string of victims in the Republican Party who have tried to take on Trump. Jeff Flake, Bob Corker are others who have abandoned their political careers as a result of their opposition to the president and now we see the latest victim of the never Trump movement.

Back to you.

HILL: Rebecca Berg with the latest for us. Thank you.

BERG: Thanks.

HILL: A court order obtained by CNN reveals Angelina Jolie is required to give Brad Pitt more access to their children. The new order outlined a shared custody schedule for the summer with Jolie maintaining primary physical custody. A judge granted Pitt unrestricted phone access to their six children. They have three boys and three girls. Jolie has been advised as well the custody agreement could be subject to change. The couple split back in September of 2016.

CAMEROTA: All right, I confess, I am not as up to date on my Branjelina news as I used to be. I've lost track a little bit of where they are.

HILL: Nor am I.

CAMEROTA: But I do recall reading that Brad Pitt has mended his ways somehow or curtailed some drinking or whatever the problem was. Of course he needs access to his children.

HILL: Right.

CAMEROTA: Of course they have to share custody. I mean why is this even a question?

HILL: And that's what we were hearing is that he needs to be a part of it. He's a father who wants to be involved in their lives.

CAMEROTA: Yes. HILL: And so, yes, so it does raise those (INAUDIBLE) question. Apparent it's not a question anymore. There we go.

CAMEROTA: Case closed. Not for us. Not for us it's not.

All right, so the latest primaries put Trump's Republican critics to the test, as you just heard, so we're going to get "The Bottom Line" on the Trump effect, next.

HILL: But, first, a former bond trader trades in the stress of Wall Street and long commutes to focus on writing. His story in "Turning Points."


CHRIS BABU, AUTHOR: A lot of people have a lifelong dream of writing a novel. That was not one of mine. I worked on Wall Street. I was a bond trader for 19 years.

Working as a bond trader was an intense existence. It started to take a toll on my health. So I was starting to experience high pressure, sleep apnea, constant tension headaches, constant upset stomach, chronic severe back pain. Every little additional piece of stress, you know, feels like a two ton weight on your shoulders. And for me that thing was the subway. It's severely overcrowded.

In December of 2015, I got sick. This persisted for weeks. When a doctor told me that my problem was stress, that was when I knew I had to make a change.

I wanted to try being a writer. On one of these commutes, I got the idea for my book, about teens that go on a hellish journey through the subway system.

Writing was a great escape from real life. In the spring of 2017, I got a publishing contract for three books.

I'm much healthier now. I don't have any of the lingering stress effects. I'm pain-free. Who would have thought I could start writing after a career at some -- doing something totally different. But it is possible.



[08:48:54] CAMEROTA: OK, the primary season is now in full swing. Democrats are trying to take control of the House as Republicans learn that if they criticize President Trump, they do so at their own peril.

Let's get "The Bottom Line" with CNN political director David Chalian.

David, great to see you again.

So, Mark Sanford, let's look at that as our object lesson. Was that the Trump effect? Did he lose because of the Trump effect or were there other problems plaguing his campaign?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: That's the reason why he lost the primary primarily, no doubt about it. And what is so interesting here, and this is what every Republican is looking at, Mark Sanford, Alisyn, is one of the most conservative Republicans you can find on The Hill when it comes to limited government or fiscal responsibility. The traditional conservative that we have seen over the last couple decades in Washington and -- and yet what last night's results prove is that ideology is not the battle inside the Republican Party right now.

For Republican primary voters, the most active and energized part of the Republican base, it is about loyalty to Donald Trump. That's the test of whether or not -- that's the purity test, not where you are on immigration or where you are on fiscal issues, it's where you are on Donald Trump and if you've ever said anything negative about him.

[08:50:08] HILL: There are some head-scratching outcomes, though. Corey Stewart, looking at -- I mean in terms of an ideology there, a lot of surprises I think for people, especially outside of Virginia.

CHALIAN: Right. Not that surprising if you looked last year when he was running in the Republican primary for governor. He came real close to defeating Ed Gillespie in that race.

But, yes, Corey Stewart, who's been a champion for the confederate monuments, you know, you saw him getting the praise of President Trump on Twitter this morning for his victory. He's running against Tim Kaine, former governor and popular senator. The vice presidential running mate to Hillary Clinton in 2016, who was definitely the clear -- has the clear advantage in that race. But, once again, the definition of what is the Republican Party right now? It is being made clear by the nominees the party is putting forth.

And I'll just add this. You and I have had conversations on this show. I can't count how many times I've been asked, is this the thing that is going to break the back of Republicans and cause them to distance themselves from President Trump? Is this the tweet, is this the behavior, is this the statement? And here in Sanford is our answer. Every time we pose that question to ourselves, which I'm not suggesting we shouldn't, this is the answer. No, it's not the thing that's going to break it because President Trump is extremely popular with his party. This is why Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell try to prefer and act behind the scenes trying to guide the president rather than take him on publicly because their members are clearly concerned that taking on the president causes them political peril at home.

CAMEROTA: That is very good to remember.

What about the year of the women? So how are female candidates doing?

CHALIAN: You know, this is the story of 2018, especially on the Democratic side. Just more female powered election results. Of the four competitive House races, the targeted House races in the Commonwealth of Virginia, all four top tier races there on the Democratic side, it's a female nominee that emerged last night in the primary. This is part of this female powered moment on the Democratic side that is in response, clearly, to President Trump.

HILL: Are Democrats, though, as a whole, as a party, are they getting a better handle on what their message is moving forward? Because this is a party that is increasingly fractured.


And there's a debate in the party about how important, Erica, is a message? Do they really need to formulate some message or can they just ride sort of the anti-Trump energy and let that be sufficient? You know, most strategists will say that's not -- that's necessary but not sufficient and -- which is why I think you're going to see in the summer, and all fall, the -- every Democrat on the campaign trail is going to be talking about health care, tax cuts for the wealthy. That will be part of their message.

But the energy inside the Democratic Party right now, what is causing their -- them having the wind at their back is the anti-Trump energy, the resistance energy. That's what's forcing their greater numbers and turnout and their victory so far in the trump era.

CAMEROTA: We only have half a minute left. What happened in South Carolina?

CHALIAN: In South Carolina with --

CAMEROTA: Yes, was that -- what that where -- did somebody win who had a sort of violent past but had --

CHALIAN: Oh, I'm sorry, in the fifth congressional district, yes.

CAMEROTA: Oh, sorry, that --

CHALIAN: So -- yes, no -- no problem. In South Carolina, the Democratic nominee there has admitted to domestic abuse in his past. Every Democrat up and down the South Carolina party and nationally asked him to step away from this race when he admitted his past. He would not step down. He does emerge as the nominee, but that seat, largely because of that past, is going to remain likely in Republican hands, even though last year, in a special election in that district, that very same Democrat got very close to winning, but now we've learned his history and it's hard to see how this leaves Republican hands.

CAMEROTA: Got it. OK, David Chalian, thank you so much for explaining all of that to us.

CHALIAN: Sure. No problem.

CAMEROTA: OK, "The Good Stuff," that's next.

HILL: But first, a preview of our special series, more good stuff, on people making an extraordinary difference.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All next week, a special CNN series. Our anchors profile champions for change.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We traveled the globe telling stories of change makers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This time we're joining their mission to make a difference.

BILL WEIR, CNN: Giving time to the causes that are dear to our hearts.

CAMEROTA: And sharing the stories of the champions leading the charge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's for a great cause. That's motivating.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had to help them in ways that lets them see that this is not how your life has to be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is an opportunity to pay it forward. To do something that's going to be meaningful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are the kinds of students any community would be blessed to have.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just warms your heart that you could help someone with food.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Join the journalists of CNN as we work alongside champions for change.

ANNOUNCER: All next week, presented by Charles Schaub.



[08:59:02] CAMEROTA: OK, time now for "The Good Stuff."

One man's wrong turn helped save a life. Matthew Newman (ph) said that he was trying to make his way home when he got lost in Binghamton, New York. That's when he saw Richard Downy (ph) in distress. It turns out the 80-year-old was having a heart attack.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was this bad gut feeling, something bad was really going to happen, and I had to pull the car around.


CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. So Josh (ph) immediately called 9-1-1, ultimately saving Richard's life. These two strangers now call each other friends.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it hadn't been for him, I wouldn't be here today.


CAMEROTA: OK. I mean that's, I don't know, divine intervention.

HILL: Right.

CAMEROTA: That's destiny. Just getting a gut feeling and getting lost and saving somebody's life.

HILL: But it's also lovely too when they connect, right, and it moves beyond that moment.


HILL: That's really nice. A nice story.

Thanks for having me today.

CAMEROTA: Thanks for being here.

HILL: Time now for CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow.

CAMEROTA: See you tomorrow.