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GOP Members Of Congress Return To The Field One Year After Shooting; Trump Calls News Media America's "Biggest Enemy"; The Fed Raises Interest Rates; Washington Post Reports EPA Chief Used Aide And Donors To Help His Wife Get A Job. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired June 14, 2018 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:31:33] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MO BROOKS (R), ALABAMA, MEMBER, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE (via telephone): I was on deck about to hit batting practice on the third base side of home plate and I hear a loud bam. And I look around and behind third base in the third base dugout, which is cinderblock, I see a rifle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, that was Republican Congressman Mo Brooks moments after gunshots injured his colleagues during a congressional baseball practice exactly a year ago today. On that morning, Congressman Brooks took us moment-by-moment, on NEW DAY, through the shocking scene that he was witnessing.
Tonight, one year later, Democrats and Republicans will play their annual congressional baseball game again.
Joining us now is Republican Congressman Mo Brooks. Good morning, Congressman.
BROOKS (on camera): Good morning.
CAMEROTA: Congressman, I don't think any of us will forget your composure that morning as you took us just moment-by-moment through the chaos that was unfolding around you.
When you think back to that day a year ago, what are your thoughts?
BROOKS: Well, I'm like probably everybody else who went through it. It's a little bit emotional just hearing that clip. I had a surge of emotion going through me as I revisited it in my head.
Hopefully, it's behind us. Hopefully, it will never happen again.
This morning, we're at the Washington National Stadium, the nation's capital -- a beautiful day for baseball. I hope we'll have at least 10,000 show up in the stands. Last year it was 25,000 and it raised $1.8 million for local charities. So we're looking forward to a spirited game. Hopefully, the Democrats
will be a little bit nicer to us this year. They still have a stud pitcher, Cedric Richmond out of New Orleans, who played college ball and is still young enough to have some of his stuff. But we'll compete as best we can.
CAMEROTA: Yes, that was not nice of them to beat you guys.
But, Congressman, we've talked --
BROOKS: No. They were very kind to us after that shooting until the ballgame started -- the first pitch -- and they just pounded us last year.
CAMEROTA: So, Congressman -- I mean, look, we've talked about thankfully, how Steve Scalise survived, how he is recovering. But emotionally speaking, it does sound like all of you still carry a lot of scars from that day.
So what is it like when you talk to your colleagues who were there with you?
BROOKS: Well certainly, you've got the memory of it and as you can imagine it was unpleasant, to put it mildly, but we've moved on. I've done my best to move on.
Quite frankly, very few people ask me about it anymore. It's a year ago. It's old news. We try to move forward.
Our security during practices this year has been excellent. I don't think anyone feels that we're at risk of being under another attack, at least under the circumstances where we cannot defend ourselves. So emotionally and mentally we're ready for a good ballgame and hopefully, we'll do better this year than we did last year.
Last year's game, if I recall correctly, was the day after the shooting and unfortunately, the FBI had impounded a bunch of our equipment as evidence, so we weren't even with all of our gear during the game. But we're ready to take it to the Democrats and do our best.
And if you'll forgive me for a moment, I'm going to give a shout-out -- go Grissom Tigers. I'm wearing their uniform. It's the team I played for back in high school.
CAMEROTA: Oh, that's so great. That's wonderful. Well look, I bet that there will be tens of thousands of people to turn out to cheer all of you on.
So let's move on, you and I. Let's talk about our security.
Congressman, who do you consider to be the biggest enemy of the United States?
[07:35:00] BROOKS: Well, I'm going to do it a little bit different than most people in the media focus on. I think our biggest threat from a national security standpoint is our deficit and debt.
Now, that's consistent with what our current Secretary of Defense has stated, our current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has stated. It's consistent with what Adm. Mike Mullen, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Barack Obama stated.
If we lose our ability to pay for our national defense, which is what happens when you go into insolvency and bankruptcy, then that's where great nations tend to decline.
If you want me to point my finger at a particular foe around the globe I'm not sure that I could say that one is any worse than another. But certainly, you have to worry about Russia, you have to worry about China, you have to worry about Iran. And you have to worry about various terrorist elements that are around the planet that would love to do damage to the United States of America if given the opportunity.
BROOKS: Hopefully, North Korea --
BROOKS: -- which has kind of been up there, particularly with the publicity -- hopefully, that's diminished somewhat as a threat.
We'll see how President Trump does with all --
CAMEROTA: Do you think the nuclear threat from North Korea is --
BROOKS: -- these different nations.
CAMEROTA: -- is over? Do you -- do you agree that the nuclear threat from North Korea is now over?
BROOKS: Well, I'm not confident that it really was the kind of threat that it was hyped up to be. I'm confident that the Korean -- North Korean leadership wants to live --
BROOKS: -- and they know that if they were to attack the United States of America we would retaliate and we would incinerate their country and they would die.
And so, the Mutual Assured Destruction doctrine, which is a deterrent -- it's prevented a nuclear exchange between China --
BROOKS: -- and the United States and the Soviet Union and now, Russia and the United States.
BROOKS: And while there haven't been any nuclear devices exploded since 1945 that took lives --
CAMEROTA: But, I mean, I know Kim Jong Un was obviously testing his stuff.
BROOKS: -- and I think that works with North Korea.
CAMEROTA: I mean -- but so you think that that was overblown. And do you agree with the president that the nuclear threat from North Korea is now over?
BROOKS: Well again, with the Mutual Assured Destruction doctrine I don't think it was as great as it was perceived to be by people in the media that was hyped up.
Nonetheless, do I think it's a hundred percent gone? No, we still need to worry about it. We still need to have the interceptor missiles at Fort Greely in Alaska --
BROOKS: -- at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Perhaps supplement those with additional missile capabilities.
To me, the greatest long-term threat of a nuclear exchange is Iran because Iran is going to have missile capability and nuclear weapons sometime in the future, 10-15 years -- whatever the agreement with Obama permits.
BROOKS: And at that point in time if you still have in control of that country leaders who seemingly are willing to commit suicide --
BROOKS: -- if they can take out the little Satan, Israel and the great Satan, the United States in that nuclear exchange, that's more troublesome because I'm concerned that the Mutual Assured Destruction doctrine does not work against people who are willing to give up their own lives --
BROOKS: -- in the name of their religious beliefs.
CAMEROTA: Understood. So, Iran is obviously a danger.
Do you think that the press is the greatest enemy of the U.S.?
BROOKS: Well, I'm a conservative and I'm a Republican. Certainly, the news media, particularly at the national level, is a challenge for us who hold conservative beliefs. But are they a threat to the national security of the United States, no.
CAMEROTA: Sure, but the greatest enemy. Would you call us -- would you ever call CNN an enemy? BROOKS: I would call CNN and most people in the media who have left- leaning bents a political foe, OK, because they tend to be aligned with the Democrats versus the Republicans, so they're a political foe.
BROOKS: Would I call them an enemy of our country? That's not the verbiage that I would use.
CAMEROTA: I mean, I'm just getting to obviously, that the president tweeted out that especially NBC and CNN --
BROOKS: Alisyn, Alisyn --
CAMEROTA: Just let me just say it one second. I won't read the whole thing. That the media and the press are "our country's biggest enemy, so easily promulgated by fools."
And the reason I asked you this, Congressman, is just because I remember last year after the tragedy there on the baseball diamond we talked about how we were all going to make an effort to come together and how more unity and build bridges. And I'm just wondering if you think that kind of language accomplishes that.
BROOKS: Alisyn, I consider you a friend, not an enemy. But when it comes to politics -- and I don't know how you vote -- but I would expect that you're probably a little bit more liberal than I am from the state of Alabama.
CAMEROTA: How do you know that and why does it matter?
BROOKS: And I would consider you a foe to the conservative beliefs that I have from Alabama.
CAMEROTA: So, I mean, Congressman, why does it matter how you vote or how I vote?
BROOKS: But I don't consider you an enemy. I consider you a friend.
CAMEROTA: How does it -- why does it matter? Why are we enemies if we vote differently? Why do we have to assume things about each other?
BROOKS: Well, to me, enemy is the word that you use when you're talking about a death row kind of combat, OK?
CAMEROTA: Yes, right.
BROOKS: Nazi Germany and the United States, imperialist Japan and the United States --
CAMEROTA: Right, so why does the president use this about CNN --
BROOKS: -- fascist Italy and the United States. Those are clearly, enemies.
CAMEROTA: -- and about the press?
[07:40:00] BROOKS: But -- I would use it -- I would use the term more as a -- as a political foe. That's the -- that's the language that I would tend to feel more comfortable with.
It's like the Democrats here on the baseball field. We can be friendly outside of the confines of House floor and we often are even though we vote opposite of each other.
BROOKS: But clearly, we are political foes in the political arena --
BROOKS: -- because we have different belief systems with respect to socialism versus free enterprise --
CAMEROTA: Of course, and everybody understands that.
BROOKS: -- with respect to border security versus open borders.
CAMEROTA: Of course, Congressman. Everybody understands that, that there are differences.
But I guess I'm just saying are you comfortable with the president calling the press the biggest enemy of the U.S.?
BROOKS: President Trump has a way of using hyperbole in order to achieve strategic advantage and he's got a strategy and a thought process behind the words that he uses. And quite frankly, he's been fairly successful at it.
So I'm not one to challenge President Trump and the hyperbole that he sometimes uses in order to achieve --
BROOKS: -- the goals that he's trying to achieve for our country.
It might be different from my style but obviously, his style works. He's President of the United States.
CAMEROTA: Well, do you think it's damaging?
BROOKS: Obviously, his style works. We just had a meeting with North Korea. Who would have thought it a year ago, that we would -- that peace talks would break out between North Korea and the United States of America?
So, Donald Trump has a strategy behind the terms that he uses and it could be that he's just a whole lot smarter than I am with respect to those types of words that I don't use, but he does.
And we've seen at least success with respect to North Korea -- the beginning of what I hope will be a peace breaking out on the Korean Peninsula sometime in the future.
CAMEROTA: I understand, but do you think that it's damaging to call the free press in the United States the enemy?
BROOKS: I don't think he was using that term in the kind of mortal combat way that some people would perceive it. But in terms of the belief system that the President of the United States has and the --
Unfortunately in the news media, as you know, you tend to be under a five or 10-minute news cycle when it used to be a 24-hour news cycle. When you've got that kind of pressure to scoop your competition, unfortunately, the homework that used to be done, say 30-40 years ago before the advent of the Internet --
BROOKS: -- was much more thorough and the news media was much more accurate in the things that they said.
CAMEROTA: Trust me --
BROOKS: Now with the five and 10-minute or hour-long news cycle --
BROOKS: -- the homework's not done and too many mistakes are made.
But I'm not going to get into this --
CAMEROTA: Yes. Congressman, I mean, listen --
BROOKS: -- description --
CAMEROTA: I wish --
BROOKS: -- that President Trump has used.
CAMEROTA: I wish that you could be here at 4:00 a.m.
BROOKS: I'm here to play baseball today, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: I understand, but I just -- look, I wish you could be here --
BROOKS: All right.
CAMEROTA: -- at 4:00 a.m. to watch all of the homework that we're all doing and that all of our producers who come in here at midnight are doing for hours and hours to prepare for every one of our segments.
But listen, we wish you the best --
BROOKS: Oh, I'm sure you do that.
CAMEROTA: We do, Congressman. We are fact-based. We button up our research as much as possible. And I just wanted to ask you about all of that because I remember the high hopes that you had and so many of your colleagues and certainly, we had that it would be a new day after the tragedy last year and that there would be some bridge-building. And so I do think that it's important a year later to just see where we are with everything.
But listen, we've heard your perspective. We do wish you the best of luck. Obviously, we will be watching tonight and we're just happy that everybody --
BROOKS: Well, Alisyn --
CAMEROTA: -- will be back healthy. Yes?
BROOKS: Alisyn, it will be a new day if the Republicans beat the Democrats in the congressional baseball game tonight. How about that?
CAMEROTA: Great, and we will look forward to you recording a promo for NEW DAY on that -- on that topic.
BROOKS: All right.
CAMEROTA: Congressman, thanks so much.
BROOKS: Thank you, Alisyn. Good to be able to speak with you again.
CAMEROTA: You, too.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You can tell where his head is. The Democrats do have a really good pitcher. I mean, it's a problem because Sen. Richmond is a really good pitcher.
BERMAN: All right.
Interest rates are rising and the Fed says they will keep going up. Our money team breaks down what that means for you.
CAMEROTA: OK, but first, here's a preview of our special series on people making an extraordinary difference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All next week, a special CNN series. Our anchors profile champions for change.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN "AC 360": We travel the globe telling stories of changemakers.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: This time, we're joining their mission to make a difference.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Giving time to the causes that are dear to our hearts.
CAMEROTA: And sharing the stories of the champions leading the charge.
BERMAN: Do it for a great cause. That's motivating.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to help them in a way that lets them see 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 can help someone with food.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Walk on.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Join the journalists of CNN as we work alongside champions for change.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All next week. Presented by Charles Schwab.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[07:48:42] BERMAN: All right. Time for "CNN Money Now."
The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates and hints faster hikes are on the way. What does that mean for your wallet?
One person can answer that question. CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans, in the Money Center. Hey, Romans.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT, ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Good morning, John.
The Federal Reserve hiked short-term interest rates for the second time this year and penciled in four total rate hikes this year, up from three.
The Fed says the economy is doing well. Most people who want jobs are finding them. Unemployment is low, inflation is healthy. And the Fed chief Jerome Powell says this move will only help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEROME POWELL, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE: We think that gradually returning interest rates to a more normal level as the economy strengthens is the best way the Fed can help sustain an environment in which American households and businesses can thrive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Translation, the economy is strong enough to withstand higher borrowing costs without choking off growth, and that's what higher interest rates mean for you. Higher rates on auto loans, mortgages, credit cards.
And for Wall Street, well, stocks fell. Two reasons -- higher borrowing costs could eat into corporate profits and, of course, corporate profits drive stocks. And the fact that Powell now plans to hold news conferences after every Fed meeting. Right now it's every other meeting.
Investors took this as a signal that the Fed may raise rates more frequently in 2019, Alisyn. Reading the Fed tea leaves.
CAMEROTA: I know and you do it so well, Christine. Thank you very much.
OK. So, EPA chief Scott Pruitt is facing another scandal. What now? That's next.
BERMAN: More lotion.
[07:54:26] CAMEROTA: Another controversy involving EPA chief Scott Pruitt. "The Washington Post" is reporting that Pruitt used one of his aides to ask Republican donors to find his wife a job.
Joining us now is the former director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub.
Walter, another day, another episode of what did Scott Pruitt do now. What is Scott Pruitt thinking?
WALTER SHAUB, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, FORMER DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF ETHICS, CAMPAIGN LEGAL CENTER: There seems to be no bottom to this ethics catastrophe with Scott Pruitt. He just keeps expanding the list of ethics violations and nobody's doing anything about it.
[07:55:02] You can't even pretend there's an ethics program anymore when you've got Scott Pruitt running around inventing new ways to violate the ethics rules. And in no other administration would this man still have his job.
CAMEROTA: Here's the scroll of the things that he has done -- the ethics violations that are questionable. You need a magnifying glass in order to read these because there are so many of them.
As you know, he rented this room from well below market price.
He was constantly dining at the White House mess hall until they had to ask him to eat someplace else. It was not supposed to be for him.
He used an aide to inquire about a Chick-fil-A business opportunity.
He spent nearly $3.5 million of the taxpayer dollars on his security detail -- first-class travel -- though they have released no security threat as far as we know when asked. There are no credible threats.
I could go on and on but it's only a 3-hour show.
When you say that nobody's doing anything, what can be done about Scott Pruitt?
SHAUB: Well, for one thing, the president could fire him, which is what would have happened in any past administration, or Congress could put some effort into conducting any kind of oversight at all.
There was a recent hearing in the past couple of weeks where Pruitt went and testified and his fans on the committee were disingenuously claiming that any complaints about Scott Pruitt are necessarily partisan.
But the only thing partisan going on here is their intense defense of him because just look at that scroll. It's mind-boggling. I have never seen anything like this with the sheer number of violations.
Scott Pruitt just seems to be fundamentally unfit for public service. And I'm sure there were plenty of other candidates who would have been as equally enthusiastic about deregulation as him.
So there's nothing partisan about this because the president can just replace him with somebody who has the same views, but it would be nice if he'd find somebody who isn't a serial ethics violator.
CAMEROTA: That, by the way, scroll that we were playing while you were talking, that wasn't on a loop. We weren't repeating any of that. Those are all individual line-item ethical violations.
So even some vocal people in conservative media now, such as Laura Ingraham on Fox, are calling him out. Here's what she tweets. "Pruitt bad judgment hurting [the president]. Gotta go," she says.
I mean, is this what's finally going to tip the scales?
SHAUB: Well, I hope so. I mean, we saw, this week, a few conservative outlets finally speaking up. I don't know why they're so late to the party because again, you can easily find somebody, including his deputy administrator, who will have the same views.
But it seems that the White House has no interest in government ethics. It's just simply irrelevant.
And that, of course, was my experience with them when I was leading the Office of Government Ethics and it's why I had to finally resign because this White House is not only indifferent, it's actually hostile to government ethics.
And the president's allies in Congress, again, are sabotaging any efforts to address Pruitt's violations by labeling it partisan.
CAMEROTA: OK. Speaking of ethics, Jared and Ivanka. The report is that they have made $82 million in outside income in this first year that they have served in the White House as the president's top advisers.
Is that OK?
SHAUB: Well, I mean, I don't know how they find any time to do their jobs when they are making so much money on the outside.
A decision was made when they came in to let them keep all of these assets. And the reason that decision was made was nepotism. There's a reason we have nepotism laws.
And all of these assets that he holds in -- Jared Kushner, in particular, are of a nature that presents significant potential for conflicts of interest because you don't just go to a bank and take out a mortgage to build a skyscraper. You need infusions of cash from outside sources and that makes him vulnerable to foreign governments and foreign businesses.
Our Intelligence agencies discovered last year that at least four foreign governments were plotting to use his financial interests to manipulate him. And many of his financial interests are connected to entities and governments in the Middle East where he's supposedly in charge of a Middle East peace plan.
I think the bottom line is if you're going to break with tradition, commit nepotism, allow your guy to keep all of these assets, you've got to engage in transparency where you tell us the true nature of your interests and what your assignments are, and they're just not doing that.
CAMEROTA: Walter Shaub, we are very grateful for your expertise in all of this and that you are attempting to keep everyone honest here. Thank you.
CAMEROTA: We will talk to you again.
We're following a lot of news so let's get right to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: All of us know he shouldn't testify unless we get everything we want.
CAMEROTA: President Trump's lawyers plotting their next moves as Michael Cohen splits with his legal team.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This looks to me like it's moving in the direction of cooperation.