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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump Want to Replace Kennedy "As Quickly As Possible"; Upset Primary Win Sends Shock Waves Through Democratic Party. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired June 27, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:05] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: That's it for me. Thanks for watching. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, the battle is on. Republicans rushing to fill Justice Kennedy's seat on the Supreme Court as Democrats vowing to block them. Who wins?
Plus, the political upset of the year, beating a Democratic power house. Republicans using her win to try to slam the whole party. Twenty-eight-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is OUTFRONT.
And fireworks behind closed doors as the controversial FBI agent, Peter Strzok speaks to Congress. That heated conversation still going on at this hour. We're going to speak to a Congresswoman who was in the room with Strzok right now.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening to all, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news. President Trump's race to fill the Supreme Court. Tonight, his second opening, his chance to make history.
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring. Now, Kennedy was a conservative, but a liberal swing vote on major social issues like same-sex marriage and abortion. And Trump tonight has the power to ensure that vote goes the other way for decades.
And make no mistake, this is a race to get Kennedy's replacement confirmed before the midterms. Possibly take away Trump's majority in Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, it's an election year, would you have to consider to holding that spot open until the make up of Congress determined come in November?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I haven't really thought about that. I think you want to go as quickly as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Speed. Quickly as possible. And Trump doesn't have any battle within his own party on this one. The majority leader Mitch McConnell is ready to race, too. He wants a new Supreme Court justice getting that through the Senate by the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: We will vote to confirm Justice Kennedy's successor this fall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. Election Day is 132 days away from tonight. The average time to confirm a Supreme Court justice is half that time. And a Congressional source tells CNN that the goal is to get this done, confirm and done around Labor Day.
But McConnel l's sudden urge to rush is, well, it's hard to think of it as anything other than hypocritical because it was McConnell who blocked President Obama from filling Justice Antonin Scalia's seat after his death in February 2016. McConnell at the time citing an upcoming election, which to be clear at time, was 269 days away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: The American people should have a say in the course of direction. Give the people a voice in filling this vacancy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: McConnell also tweeting at the time, "The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice." Right. It couldn't be more clear. So McConnell believed the American people should have a voice when the president was a Democrat but now that it is a Republican, the story seems to have changed.
Democratic Senator Cory Booker just spoke with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: If Mitch McConnell would just listen to Mitch McConnell. For him now, four, five months before -- five, six months before an election for him to say let's rush to a vote, is violating his own -- the old precedent that he set as well as continuing to compound upon a perversion of a process that we've seen since he changed the rules under the Obama administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right, Booker vows to fight any Trump Supreme Court nomination before Election Day. And as McConnell and Trump are racing, racing for the finish line, the reality is this. For Trump, Kennedy has been a crucial vote. Right, he has sided with conservatives. In fact, in just this week on four major decisions. Gerrymandering the president's travel ban and unions on that list.
And now Trump wants to ensure Kennedy's replacement is more reliable on social issues. And this is crucial. Trump wants a reliable 100 percent conservative. Not a turncoat which is why there's now such a furious fight over Kennedy's replacement.
Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT live at the White House. And Kaitlan, look, this is his second opportunity. It is huge. You talk about a legacy. This is how President Trump can create one that lasts for decades. And this is now the top thing on his mind.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is, and it came about quite quickly. With Justice Kennedy coming over to the White House just half an hour before the news broke that he was going to retire so he could hand deliver a letter to President Trump saying as much. And during that conversation, President Trump later told reporters that they discussed possible replacements for Kennedy even though he didn't hint at who that could be.
The president did say he will choose from that list of 25 potential nominees that the White House updated last fall in November. A list that they published and a list that includes several definitely well- known figures including Utah senator, Mike Lee. Also Brett Kavanaugh, someone who formerly clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy. But also Tom Hardiman. That is someone who was considered when the president chose his last Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
[19:05:00] Someone who really came through for the administration in a big way in recent days after the Supreme Court voted to uphold the president's travel ban.
So certainly, a big news for the White House. There is a sense of elation inside now that they know they're going to have another chance to pick a Supreme Court nominee. But of course, Erin, we are setting ourselves up for what could be a very bitter partisan showdown on Capitol Hill. The White House alluded to as much in their statement on Justice Kennedy's retirement when they noted that he was confirmed quickly and without opposition.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Kaitlan.
And now, let's go to Renato Mariotti, former federal prosecutor, Carrie Severino also with us, former clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas, and David Gergen, former presidential adviser to four presidents.
David, you're with me so let me start with you.
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: The Republicans can barely contain their excitement, right? You know, yesterday --
BURNETT: -- when the decision came down, there was no retirement, they didn't know. Now all of a sudden, Kennedy says he's going to retire. The majority whip, John Cornyn smiling, saying to reporters quote, am I maintaining my composure, wow, right? An honest reaction if ever there was one.
How big of a win is this for Trump ? This happening just over a 100 days from the election.
GERGEN: This is enough for Trump to establish the most important part of his legacy because it's going to last long after he leaves office whenever that is. You've got essentially a group of younger justices have been appointed as conservative before with the intention of having decades long power. There hasn't been a reliably conservative court over a period of years, you have to go back to at least the Eisenhower years, some would argue back to the Roosevelt years to see a conservative court. And that means, sends out dangerous signals on abortion, on gay rights, gay marriage, and all the rest, which is going to get right in the middle of midterms.
BURNETT: Right. Because you look at Kennedy, OK, was a conservative, was a Reagan appointee. He's a conservative this week, but also Roe v. Wade. You know, he was the vote --
GERGEN: Gay marriage.
BURNETT: You're right, same-sex marriage. So, you know, he was far from reliable, right. (INAUDIBLE) the Benedict Arnold of conservative justices. This is a chance to change that.
I mean, Renato, that is what is so huge here, right? And that is why this is such a race for Mitch McConnell and President Trump.
RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: There's no question, Erin. I think viewers at home should realize that this very well could mean the end of Roe versus Wade, which I think a very big news.
You know, Justice Kennedy was generally -- as you pointed out, a pretty reliable vote with conservatives, about 80 or 98 percent of the time, but on some key issues, same-sex marriage, Roe versus Wade, the issue of choice, affirmative action, he sided with the four Democratic appointees. So, this is going to shift the court in a very significant way and it's a reminder to viewers that elections matter. And now obviously as you pointed out earlier, you know, Mitch McConnell is doing everything he can to get this done before the next election.
BURNETT: And elections matter and yet, you know, Carrie, you know, we did hear Mitch McConnell right in 2016, the people should speak. Now of course roles are reversed and he wants to get this done. Sources say around Labor Day. It is pretty incredible how it just matters which foot the shoe is on.
CARRIE SEVERINO, FORMER CLERK FOR JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS: Oh, I think that's totally misconstruing what happened during the last vacancy. That was a presidential year. It's a totally different thing. Look back for example to Obama's nomination of Justice Kagan. That was 2010, that was A midterm election year. Her nomination went through without a hitch.
It's a very different thing in a presidential year. And (INAUDIBLE) that Justice Kennedy actually with the Justice Neil Gorsuch agreed with most this term. So, if as we expect, we get someone who's much along the lines of Justice Gorsuch from President Trump.
I think the scare mongering oh, you know, Roe versus Wade is gone, I think is very much overstated. We really -- I don't think anyone knows for sure what's going to happen. We know Chief Justice Roberts is very incrementalist on the court. So I think that's a lot of scare mongering. We've heard that kind of argument ever since Justice O'Connor actually was being proposed almost 40 years under President Reagan.
GERGEN: Look, we heard this during the campaign of 2016. Donald Trump was going to be -- you shouldn't be worried about Donald Trump. He's going to be -- like a lot of other presidents, he'll grow into the job in so forth and so on. That is not what has happened.
BURNETT: Well, certainly on these issues, he was pro-choice. Everyone pointed that out historically. But that's not how (INAUDIBLE).
GERGEN: Exactly. And right now, what we know about Donald Trump. One thing he's been consistent about -- he's appealing to his base. And one thing -- to deliver to his base, what he promised in the campaign, and that is to put more conservatives in there.
I think he's going to get a reliably conservative justice. It would be shocking if he did what Ronald Reagan did which was chose Sandra Day O'Connor. He's going to go to the conservative base who he has five votes in there and he can pretty much guarantee what's going to happen.
BURNETT: Renato, does Carrie have a point when she says it's different if it's a midterm election as opposed to a presidential election when she's saying McConnell is not being hypocritical?
[19:10:04] MARIOTTI: You know, I have to say I don't really think McConnell's point makes sense for either election. You know, ultimately, you could -- there's always an election around the corner and the question is, is the Supreme Court going to do its job. You know, it used to be that these justices were handled in a more bipartisan fashion. And it's a real sad state of our country that now we have this level of, you know, 9disagreement and infighting.
But, as Mr. Gergen pointed out, President Trump is going to go far to the extreme with an appointee and I think you're going to get a natural reaction from the Democrats.
BURNETT: So David, on this issue, the Democrats are mad. Cory booker is saying, you know, we have some levers basically we can pull, but now it's a majority vote. It's hard to see exactly what those are, how long they could string this out.
I mean, right, you only need 51 votes, so when they say they can hold this off, can they really or is that just talk? GERGEN: You know, Senator McConnell has done two things. Not only did he block Garland, which worked out really effectively for Republicans, but he got rid of the filibuster. So you only need 51 votes now. This is unlike the past.
But I think he's done something very smart here and that's been a break for him. He's going to put the 10 Democratic senators who are essentially in reddish states in a box. They've got to decide --
BURNETT: People like Manchin and Heitkamp --
GERGEN: Coming up to the midterms, they're going to be forced to choose between supporting the Trump nominee, which will be popular with a base, but very, very unpopular -- which would be popular with the Trump base but very unpopular with their base. Or they go against it and they get all the Trump voters out and all aroused. Everybody assumed that the energy was going to be on the Democratic side on the midterm.
Now, suddenly, the right is going to be (INAUDIBLE).
BURNETT: It could have completely shifted and this could do that. I mean, Carrie, just the bottom line is, what makes you confident that this is not a moment which Roe v. Wade is up for debate.
SEVERINO: Well, again, I don't think anyone can say what certainty what's going to happen. We only have one justice who's on record saying they even opposed Roe. Why I think we can't say for sure is, we have this list of 25, the president has committed to picking a judge from those. And those are outstanding nominees much like Justice Gorsuch. They're fair, they listen to both sides of the debate. They honor the constitution, and are totally committed to that. I think anyone of those would be a great pick, and I think someone Justice Kennedy would be proud of as well.
BURNETT: All right, thank you all very much. And Carrie mentioned this list of 25. Well, there is a list, right? The president has put it out, so who are they? That's next.
And new details about the president's big summit around the corner now with Vladimir Putin announced today. And of course coming right after the NATO meeting.
And taking down a titan. Newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, tapping one of the most powerful house Democrats in last night's primary and she will be OUTFRONT.
[19:16:19] BURNETT: Breaking news, President Trump says he'll pick a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy from a list of 25 names.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We have a very excellent list of great talented, highly educated, highly intelligent, hopefully tremendous people. I think the list is very outstanding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. So who's on it? Laura Jarrett is OUTFRONT. And Laura, so 25, you know, you know more about this than anyone. Who should we be watching most closely on that list?
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Erin, that handful of names that have emerged as front-runners at this point are all far to the right of Justice Kennedy. Starting with Brett Kavanaugh who sits on the powerful D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. He's been a favorite for conservatives for a while now serving in the George W. Bush administration and as a lawyer for Ken Starr's team, during the Clinton investigation.
But others have also zeroed in on Judge Amy Barrett, recently confirmed to the federal bench in Chicago, the 7th Circuit. She was a former law clerk to the late Justice Scalia and a law professor at Notre Dame before taking the federal bench but she also tangled with Senator Feinstein during her confirmation hearings.
As a third option, we've also heard the name Raymond Kethledge. A Michigan native, former -- he's also a Justice Kennedy clerk who now sits on sixth circuit. But critics worry about an opinion he wrote in a privacy case that was just recently reverse by the Supreme Court just a few days ago.
And you may see Amul Thapar, continue to pop up over the coming days. A favorite of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Someone who's served in both government and private practice.
And finally, there's Thomas Hardiman. The runner-up for Justice Gorsuch and he has a fascinating back story that could potentially appeal to the president. He drove a cab for some time. First in his family to go to college and he used to sit on the same court as the president's sister.
BURNETT: All right, thank you so much, Laura Jarrett. That was five big names to know.
And let's go now to our Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin. So, you know, Jeff, as Laura goes through some of those names, I mean, Kennedy of course, a Reagan -- a Republican appointee, conservative. But, you know, he was the key swing vote going the other way on same-sex marriage, abortion, access, in Roe v. Wade, affirmative action, right? Is everyone on this list more reliable to be a guaranteed conservative vote on all issues than Kennedy was?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Every single one of them. That's why they were picked. I mean, we're going to hear a lot about their qualifications. About their, you know, openness to new ideas. The whole reason they were picked by the federalist society, by the Heritage Foundation who compiled this list is so they would be what's known as hundred percenters. They are going to vote to overturn Roe versus Wade.
All of this fantasy talk about, oh I don' know if Roe v. Wade is going to be overturned. Of course it's going to be overturned. That's the whole point of nominating. Of why, you know, the conservative movement wants justices named to the Supreme Court.
So -- I mean, every one of them would accomplish the agenda of axing out Kennedy's record on gay rights, on abortion rights, on affirmative action, and duplicating his record in the many areas where he was quite conservative.
BURNETT: So, who do you think it's going to be?
TOOBIN: You know, I don't know at this point. We're going to know a lot more as the White House starts leaking names. And I don't say that in inappropriate way. I think it's smart for them to leak names --
BURNETT: Got to test it out.
TOOBIN: Yes, that sort of, you know, flushes out whether there are any problems with the nominees.
[19:20:00] I mean, certainly the ones that Laura was talking about I think are quite possible, but there are other names that are possible as well.
BURNETT: So, you know, I don't know if you heard the reporting, but, you know, our understanding from a GOP sources they want this done around Labor Day. Obviously, Mitch McConnell wants it done, you know, before the election, well before. But given those pieces of information, when do you think President Trump is going to announce his pick?
TOOBIN: In a couple of weeks. Mitch McConnell will hold the Senate 24 hours a day if he has to, to get this thing done. I mean, this is the thing that McConnell cares about more than anything. This is why he stole the seat from Barack Obama.
3I mean, remember, you know in the United States, our terms for president are four years. But President Obama's term was three years when it came to three Supreme Court nominations. That seat was kept open. That got us Neil Gorsuch.
TOOBIN: This is a chance with a Senate majority to fill this seat where the Democrats don't have a filibuster. I mean, Mitch McConnell will move heaven and earth to get this nominee through by the first Monday in October. And at least as we see it now, I don't see any real obstacles in his way.
BURNETT: First Monday in October. All right, thank you very much, Jeffrey Toobin.
And next, she calls herself a Democratic socialist, she wants to abolish ICE. And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who scored that incredible upset last night is OUTFRONT next.
And one of Trump's frequent targets grilled by lawmakers today. One congresswoman in the room joins me to say to you what did FBI Agent Peter Strzok have to say for himself today?
[19:25:07] BURNETT: President Trump shocked and surprised, weighing in on the big upset that has sent shock waves to the Democratic Party which is frankly still reeling tonight. A 10-term incumbent, one of the highest ranking Democrats in the House, Congressman Joe Crowley, a man who was likely to take Nancy Pelosi's job had lose. Lost his primary to a little known 28-year-old self-described Democratic socialist named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I was surprised. Everybody was surprised. That's big loss. I tell you what, that's an amazing -- that was a shocking loss. But it is what it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Well, it is what it is and what it is, is pretty incredible thing. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is going to be my guest in just a moment. First though, Jason Carroll is OUTFRONT with the story of how all of this went down.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't let you go. She's looking at herself on television right now. How are you feeling? Can you put it into words?
ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), U.S. HOUSE CANDIDATE: No. I cannot put this into words.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would barely believe the result in a seismic political shock that stunned the establishment. The 28-year-old newcomer won the Democratic primary in New York's 14th congressional district.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: I cannot believe these numbers right now, but I do know that every single person here has worked their butt off to change the future of America.
CARROLL (voice-over): She handily beat Joe Crowley, the 10-term incumbent, the man many saw as a leading contender to replace Nancy Pelosi as the Democratic leader of the House.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: You know what, we meet a machine with a movement and that is what we have done today.
CARROLL (voice-over): To say Ocasio-Cortez's rise was meteoric would be an understatement. Since midnight, her name mentioned on Twitter more than half a million times. Just a year ago, she was bar tending to help make ends meet. Her campaign video tells the story of her upbringing.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: I wasn't born to a wealthy or powerful family. A mother from Puerto Rico. Dad from the South Bronx.
CARROLL (on camera): The district that carried her to victory is made up of the Bronx and Queens, much of it working class and diverse. Ocasio-Cortez studied at Boston University and at one time worked if for senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, but it was right here back in the district where she grew up where really found her voice.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Women like me aren't supposed to run for office.
CARROLL (voice-over): Ocasio-Cortez worked as an organizer for former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Following the election of Donald Trump, the self-described Democratic socialist said it was time for her to do more.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: This race is about people versus money. We've got people, they've got money.
CARROLL (voice-over): She led a progressive campaign which called for medicare for all, tuition free college, and abolishing ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement. And while she was gaining traction on the ground, Crowley was still outspending her by a margin of 10-1.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: I am proud to be the only Democrat in this race that rejects all corporate money.
CARROLL (voice-over): Ocasio-Cortez could soon again be making political history if she wins in November. The 28-year-old would likely be the youngest person in Congress come 2019.
REP. JOE CROWLEY (D), NEW YORK: This is for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
CARROLL (voice-over): Crowley, wishing her well and dedicating a song to her on election night.
Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: And OUTFRONT now, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. So -- I mean, as I was saying to you before, whatever people think of your politics, your tenacity and passion are something everyone should be excited about and proud of as your rival clearly was.
What do you think about this when you say this is -- it just shows money isn't everything.
BURNETT: He outrace you 10-1.
BURNETT: Money didn't matter.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: No, it didn't. And I think that, you know, money is important in running a lot f races and historically, it's been a major predictor on who does wins a race. But, you know, if you really understand your community, if you really know how to navigate things, and I come from a background as an educator and as an organizer, when you really know a community, I think that it can give you a good enough edge to win.
BURNETT: So now your platform obviously, well, you are an organizer in part. At one point, you're organizing for Bernie Sanders, then you started running yourself. Your plans include abolishing ICE, Jason was going to through some of these. A universal healthcare as you call, Medicare for all. Guaranteeing a job for people who want one, free college tuition.
Do you think even your Democratic colleagues will support that platform?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I think that they've already start -- there are plenty who have already hopped on board. You know, there already is legislation on the floor of Congress regarding the abolishment of ICE. Leading Democratic leaders like Kamala Harris and even folks like Pramila Jayapal have already discussed this issue.
We have a very large amount of co-sponsors on the Medicare for all legislation. You know, among the Democratic caucus, so, I do think that a lot of these legislation points to the America that we want to have and I think that there's a willingness to work on these issues and get closer to that point.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: So how are you going to learn everything you need to know? You don't have a lot of time.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Right, right.
BURNETT: And, obviously, it's a Democratic district, so the presumption is you're heading down there.
So what do you do now to learn everything you need to do, to sponsor legislation, to write the bills, to actually take these ideas and put them somewhere?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, everyone in Congress has been a freshman at some point, so I'm confident in my ability to navigate and learn these ropes. I feel very, very welcomed by many of the Democratic incumbents right now. We've received phone calls from senators and current incumbents, welcoming me to the delegation and to the party.
And so, I feel very embraced by many of these individuals and I feel like we'll be able to make it work.
BURNETT: OK. So, a couple of the individuals who are going to make your life more difficult, on the Democrat and Republican side.
Let's start with Mitch McConnell. OK. He says your win is indicative of the direction of the Democratic Party as a whole, implying that it's going all the way to socialism. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: It was a stunning development. The energy in the Democratic Party is self-avowed socialist, open borders. I think it's a general election problem for them, in a number of places and a real drag on the party in terms of appealing to American voters who I don't think want us to turn a European socialist country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Are you a drag on the Democratic Party?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: No, no. I -- so many people across the country are inspired by this win and inspired about this race because of what it represents. It represents possibility. It represents a potential future, you know?
And there are other members in Congress that identify themselves -- you know, you have Bernie Sanders that --
OCASIO-CORTEZ: -- carried very strongly in many the Midwest.
And, really, this is about labels. This is not about left versus right divisiveness. This is about top and bottom. This is about speaking about health care, education, housing, wages for working class Americans, criminal justice reform and more.
And people listen to that message and you can't scare people, you know, with the label. You know, you can say that the president is an authoritarian, hyper capitalist, but at the end of the day, what does that mean? And when we talk about the issues, as long as we can build consensus from the issue, nothing really matters.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: So, Nancy Pelosi has, you know, also came out -- look, she's said some good things, too, but also sort of implying, OK, that's great, but it's just one little place. It's just nothing to worry about. Nothing to see here.
Here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: They made it to us in one district. So, let's not get yourself carried away as an expert on demographics and the rest of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes. Well, you know, I think that we're in a middle of a movement in this country. I feel this movement -- but that's what's going to happen from the bottom up. A movement is going to come from voters. There are a lot of really exciting races with extremely similar
dynamics as mine. It's not just one district. You look at Ayanna Pressley out in Massachusetts, same exact -- same exact situation.
BURNETT: So here's the thing though. Nancy Pelosi is 78. You are 28. We can do the math, OK?
BURNETT: So, Steny Hoyer, the minority whip, 79. Jim Clyburn, 77.
BURNETT: OK, is that going to stay that way? Can someone like Nancy Pelosi, and this isn't about her as a human being, this is about the leader of your party, when it comes to Congress. Is it time for new blood, younger blood?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: You know, I think we need to elect a generation of new people to Congress on both parties. You know I think that some of the issues we even have today may have to do with some of the calcified structures and relationships. And, you know, in certain seats where it's appropriate, I think that a new leaf could actually mean a lot of opportunity for the party and future.
BURNETT: That's interesting, the calcified. I like -- that's interesting word to use. But I mean, that is part of the problem, right? You have a lot of people who are a different generation than the people represent.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes, and this is about diversity as well. You know, we have to have a diversity of age. And Congress represents it, too.
BURNETT: So, you know, you told CNN earlier today, you support the impeachment of President Trump. Bernie Sanders, obviously, you worked for him, he was asked specifically to respond to your comments. I wanted to play what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: I'm a member of the United States Senate. I'm going to have to be -- if impeachment proceedings go forward, I'm going to be judging on that. So, it's premature to be to be calling for his impeachment. Second of all, we have the Mueller investigation, which is ongoing, and I think it would be, for my perspective, jumping the gun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:35:05] BURNETT: Do you see him as a mentor? Do you say, OK, maybe I went too far on that or no?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: You know, I am so willing and open. You know, what we do is we build consensus. And that is what governance is all about, you know? I may have a certain opinion. I think that the president has more than been enough action for us to kind of investigate. You know, you look what the Republicans voted on impeachment with Bill Clinton, and it seems like -- you know, as we say in Bronx, seems like papitas compared to this current administration.
But I am willing to work with, you know, work with our incumbents and our administration. I am a new and freshman member of Congress and I look forward to building those relationships and at the end of the day, it's about getting things done.
BURNETT: So, after losing last night, we played briefly, Jason played the end of his piece, Congressman Crowley, doing something frankly that I think would be, you know, it's a heartbreaking moment for him. You have to imagine. Here's again what he did.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
BURNETT: How did that make you feel?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: It makes me emotional just watching it. To handle that moment with such grace and I mean I have a profound amount of respect, I do have a profound of respect for the service he's had for our community and, you know, I just think it was beautiful and I look forward to building that relationship as well.
BURNETT: Have you talked to him? Because he obviously could be a crucial person.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes, absolutely. You know, we've been trying to get in contact. In a way, yesterday, I was a constituent and how do you find your congressman's personal telephone number? We're looking for it but we've been reaching out and I greatly look forward to having that conversation.
BURNETT: So you don't have his cell phone number yet?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: No, we're working on it. We're working on it.
BURNETT: All right. Well, I'm sure he will take the call.
BURNETT: And your line has probably been busy through much of the day.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes, my phone is brick.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
And I hope everyone watching, agree with her or disagree with her, is inspired by the fact that you can come from behind and from nowhere in this country and still go into public service.
And next, the FBI agent whose personal texts spawned conspiracy theories before Congress at this hour. What did Peter Strzok say?
Well, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee is in the room. She's my guest.
And President Trump insisting North Korea -- denuclearization is the word. But there are new satellite images tonight and that is not what they show.
[19:41:32] BURNETT: Breaking news, one of President Trump's favorite Twitter targets interviewed by Congress today. The FBI agent Peter Strzok answering questions from the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees. Strzok involved in both the Russia and Clinton email investigations.
OUTFRONT now, Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee and was there, part of the interview.
And good to have you with me, Congresswoman. So much to ask you. What did you learn from Peter Strzok today?
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: Well, first of all let me say that Peter Strzok is an Army veteran, a 22-year member of the FBI and a person that I believe throughout the process presented himself as a credible witness. I think as you well know this is a meeting that the total context of what was said cannot be repeated but let me generally say to you that he believes in the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
He does not believe that the entire bureau has been tainted. He believes his work was very important and he certainly believes the work of dealing with the Russian investigation was of high priority, in particular because it dealt with and deals with national security. And he gave no doubt that the issue of the emails have been fully vetted, fully investigated and no evidence of bias or on his part -- and the fact that it was appropriately closed.
BURNETT: All right. So I want to just again remind our viewers by reading one of the text message exchanges to which you're referring between Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page. Obviously, at the time, they were in the midst of an affair.
Page says Trump's not ever going to become president, right? To which -- right? To which Strzok replies: no, no he's not. We'll stop it.
Now, obviously, when you hear that as whatever your politics, you should cringe, right? I mean, are you sure after the hearing today that Strzok was not biased in the investigations into Trump and Clinton when we see texts like that?
LEE: They obviously sent up red flags, there's no doubt. But they were probed or he was probed extensively on this question of bias by both sides. And if I might, Erin, it certainly disturbs me that the hours that were spending here and we still have children incarcerated, babies in and around the nation and at the border, and no response from this administration.
But he was fully questioned and he was fully willing to answer our questions as well. There was no hesitation other than when he was advised by his counsel and, you know, things happen. And as such with those emails, good or bad, things happen, and what I saw in his testimony is someone who would be concerned about any actions that would be biased.
LEE: And that he felt that the integrity of his work was important and that he maintained the integrity of his work on both investigations.
BURNETT: The Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows was there with you in the room today as well. He obviously has a very different takeaway than you do tonight. He says he doesn't buy Strzok's claims of no bias.
Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MARK MEADOWS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: I don't know how any reasonable person reads the text and would suggest that there was no bias. If you have intimate personal conversations between two people, that normally would show the intent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:45:07] BURNETT: Does he have a point?
LEE: Well, listen to this, or at least let's look at the facts. Director Mueller immediately moved Peter Strzok from the Mueller investigation, immediately removed him as these emails were discovered. So, it was almost simultaneous timing.
The Mueller investigation is continuing with minimal leaks or no leaks, and it is continuing around a singular issue. One, as a question of national security and the fact of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian operatives. In the instance of Mr. Strzok, I would say to Mr. Meadows, what was the effect of the bias? What did we see happen with the bias?
One could argue that an investigation of emails that was closed as what we supposed to be focused on.
LEE: There was an impact after it was indicated to the American people about the existence of an investigation or a new investigation regarding the Clinton emails. But what impacted his potential bias or Lisa's bias have? Zero, Erin, absolutely zero.
And he believes, Mr. Strzok, that he had no bias. He indicates that they're members who have different political views.
LEE: Certainly, the emails are red flags. There is no doubt. You wish the emails had not been written. You wish they had not been written on government equipment. But over and over, the questions were asked.
And I don't believe my good friend from North Carolina gleaned anything that would other than those unfortunate emails to say that he was biased in the investigation.
BURNETT: Before we go, I just spoke with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Of course, she's, you know, Democratic socialist as she describes herself, beat Joe Crowley, the 10-term incumbent. You know, she was talking about leadership in your party when she was talked about Nancy Pelosi who said this is just one district, don't read anything into it, Hoyer, Clyburn, overall just saying, look -- "calcified" was the word she used to describe it, that it was time for some younger people to come into Congress.
What's your reaction?
LEE: Well, first of all, there are young people everywhere in the United States Congress, but they're certainly in the Democratic Caucus. They're young people that are running. I believe that the big tent is what the Democratic Party is. We welcome her.
I sent her a text of congratulations and indicated that we are excited about the big tent Democratic Party. We look forward to working with her to help change America. I'm a change agent. She's a change agent.
And as it relates to the Democratic Caucus, here's the good news and the bad news for Republicans -- most of those who are of her age are all running in the Democratic Party, to be honest with you, all of them are primary runners or they are already nominees and we welcome them with open arms.
I congratulated Joe Crowley for the service of the nation.
LEE: I thought he did a classy move by endorsing her and unifying us. And I sent him a text as well and I said his future is bright. But the door is open for her. I couldn't wait to congratulate her and say that her race and her win is evidence of the big tent.
I'm not afraid of that. I may be afraid of the next nominee to the Supreme Court from Donald Trump and we need people like her to be able to express through the American people what it means as a woman of color to be denied equity and justice in the system of justice in the United States.
My fear on the basis of who President Trump might nominate, but I'm not in any way daunted by her election. I'm happy, I'm undaunted if you will and I'm happy and it's a big tent Democratic Party, that's why we're going to win in 2018.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
LEE: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, if Trump is right that North Korea is denuclearizing, then why is it expanding a nuclear research center?
And the First Lady Melania Trump going on another visit of detention centers along the border. Jeanne Moos goes looking for her follow-up fashion statement.
[19:51:04] BURNETT: New tonight, President Trump announcing another major summit, this a one-on-one with Vladimir Putin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, I've said it from day one, getting along with Russia and with China and with everybody is a very good thing. It's good for the world. It's good for us. It's good for everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Good for everybody. So, does the president really know what he's up against because you know we've been hearing this rosy language a lot after the last groundbreaking one-on-one summit?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Chairman Kim, we have a great chemistry and we're well on our way.
I believe that he wants to get it done.
REPORTER: You trust him?
TRUMP: I do trust him. Yes.
We're well on our way to get denuclearization and the agreement says there will be total denuclearization.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Great chemistry, trust, denuclearization -- pretty incredible outcomes from the Kim-Trump summit, except today, a prominent North Korea monitoring group 38 North released new satellite images indicating North Korea is making improvements to the Yongbyon nuclear scientific research center. That, of course is a major North Korean nuclear site and the modifications are said to be taking place at a rapid pace.
Now, that certainly would not indicate denuclearization. Don't take our word for it though. We spoke to the senior analyst for 38 North.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK PABIAN, SENIOR ANALYST, 38 NORTH: It does suggest they're not abandoning the facility. Why would you had additional infrastructure if you're going to abandon it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Words that raised the question, was the president naive the day after he met with Kim Jong-un when he tweeted there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.
Joining me now, the author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World", and "Daily Beast" columnist Gordon Chang.
So, Gordon, you know -- let's start here because this whole issue of North Korea and Russia are so closely related right now. The new satellite images President Trump insisting denuclearization is basically a fait accompli, don't worry about it, the threat is gone.
These images though certainly suggest otherwise.
GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN: NORTH KOREA TAKES ON THE WORLD": Well, certainly. You know, there's no agreement we have with North Koreans. That joint statement was very vague. But what this does do is it undercuts fundamentally the basis of President Trump's policies.
President Trump's policy is based on the notion that Kim Jong-un has made a strategic decision to give up all his armaments. Now, that's not the case here because clearly as we've seen, they are actually putting a new cooling system into the megawatt reactor that they got from the Russians, basically says look this is not a country that's denuclearizing.
BURNETT: And as you say, they got from the Russians. I mean, this development in Korea is coming as Kim's allied Putin is about to hold his historic summit with Trump, right?
BURNETT: Putin and Kim are close in many ways. Russia is obviously important for North Korea.
What does Putin take away from Trump's, you know, over-the-top compliments of Kim, from his -- from his at least public unquestioning belief in Kim keeping his word?
CHANG: You know, I can only imagine what Putin is thinking because we know that Putin, Kim, China's Xi Jinping, they don't care about personal relationships. What they care about is hard geopolitics. They believe in a zero-sum world.
And, you know, they can like somebody but that doesn't mean they're going to change their policies toward them. Only the American --
BURNETT: Which is the opposite of Trump, where it's all personal fealty and relationships.
CHANG: Right. And we should remember what George W. Bush said. He looked into the eyes of Vladimir Putin and saw someone he could deal with. Now, fortunately, George W. Bush said later, I made a mistake. I'd like to hear President Trump say the same thing about Kim.
BURNETT: So, you know, the national security advisor John Bolton was actually with Vladimir Putin today at the Kremlin and, you know, in advance of this summit which President Trump says is going to happen in the next few weeks. And he said, I'd like to hear someone say it's a bad idea for the two of them to meet one-on-one.
CHANG: It's a bad idea.
BURNETT: OK. So, what does Trump going to get out of it?
CHANG: You know, we really don't know because I don't think talking to Putin is really going to change Putin's calculus on anything. You know, American diplomats for a very long period have said, look, Russia is in decline, we would like to see the decline be gradual, therefore, we will support Russia.
[19:55:04] But, you know, Russia is now changing the map of Europe by force. You know, this is just completely unacceptable. I think that essentially we should be sanctioning the Russians into the ground, not trying to make nice with them.
BURNETT: Right, which of course, President Trump thinks he could do again through this one-on-one personal relationship.
Gordon, thank you.
And next, Melania Trump returning to the U.S. Southern border. And Jeanne Moos on what she will wear this time.
BURNETT: Here is Jeanne.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Apparently, a lot of people care about Melania Trump's "I really don't care, do you?" jacket, and many are offering tips on what Melania should wear next.
Suggestions like November is coming and help me.
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: A jacket that says womp womp.
MOOS: She still doesn't care. I feel roughly the same as last week.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's officially the Marie Antoniette of this administration, to just say let them cake.
MOOS: Pleaded one Twitter user, please wear this next time. A less drama t-shirt by Zara, a company that made Melania's original jacket.
The $39 item is no longer available. But on eBay, a couple of women who purchased the exact same jacket a while back were getting bids of $895.
The Democrats are saying money selling a t-shirt playing off Melania's outfit, we care, we vote, do you?
Party officials say it's by far the bestselling DNC store item of all time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is kind of sweet that she made a jacket out of her and Donald's wedding vows, that's really cool.
MOOS: A graffiti artist on Esty is hand painting slogans like give back the kids, and selling them for 125 bucks.
Of course, Melania's jacket has its own Twitter account, spitting out pithy tweets like the devil wears Zara.
The first lady learned on her first trip that jackets speak louder than words.
Variations have jumped onto the back of cartoon characters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the president now tweeting on to his wife's clothes.
MOOS: Didn't anyone have Melania's back to protect her from inspiring flak with her own jacket? My husband made a deal with North Korea and all he got was this lousy jacket.
Jeanne Moos, CNN.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump was going through his closet, like where the hell is my coat?
MOOS: New York.
BURNETT: Can you imagine Trump in that coat? That's a good one.
All right. Thanks for joining us.
Anderson is next.