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Report: Trump Says NATO Unfair to U.S.; Trump Says Putin Meeting Will Be the Easiest; Schumer Says Kavanaugh Nominated to Stop Mueller Investigation; Cohen Team Sees Strong Parallel to John Dean; 38 Of the Youngest Will Be United with Families Today. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired July 10, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: The countries in this alliance are the historic friends of the United States. But it appears the president might be and more comfortable in enemy territory, yes, the president is meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May and the Queen that seems to be most looking forward to his one-on-one sit down with Russia's Vladimir Putin.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: NATO has not treated us fairly, but I think will work something out. We pay far too much, and they pay far too little. But we'll work it out. All countries will be happy. So, I have NATO, I have the UK which is in somewhat turmoil. I have Putin. Frankly Putin may be the easiest of them all, who would think?


BALDWIN: Let's start there with our senior White House correspondent who's there in Brussels. Let's remind everybody who interfered in the 2016 election and overseeing the assassination of his enemies. When the president was asked friend or foe of Putin, he said a competitor. How concerned are our NATO allies over comments like that?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, there is no question that the president's summit in Helsinki next Monday with Vladimir Putin is casting a shadow over this NATO meeting. Precisely because of what the president said. He essentially confirmed some of the fears and concerns of many U.S. allies here in Brussels who will be gathering for that NATO meeting starting tomorrow, by saying it could be the easiest one yet.

And perhaps that's true if he decides not to confront Vladimir Putin on election meddling or any of the matters that you just said and on invading on Ukraine and Crimea. He may be right saying it is the easiest of all the piece just going to listen Vladimir Putin. But those comments sort of made off-the-cuff as the president was leaving the White House to fly here were he is expected to land the next hour or so. Certainly, underscored the worry for U.S. lawmakers and as well as allies here, there is one central point of NATO, it is a 70-year-old alliance. You know designed for world peace and security. There is that concern

of Article Five. Article Five of course is an attack on one ally is an attack on all allies. The president essentially is saying maybe it is not worth it. Brooke, we should point out the only time that article is used after the 9/11 terror attack. That's one other allies here in Europe and abroad came to the U.S.'s defense. That sets the backdrop for the meeting the president is having several meetings with leaders tomorrow.

Certainly, that tone we saw from last month in the G-7 in Canada when he was lecturing Angela Merkel and others. That's continuing here. Brooke.

BALDWIN: Jeff Zeleny, thank you. With me to digest all of this is Wolf Blitzer, so a pleasure, nice to have you in New York. What do you make of all of these headlines of the fact that he's meeting with some America's closest allies and the situation in United Kingdom is chaotic. He's saying Putin is the easiest of them all.

WOLF BITZER, CNN HOST: Jeff is exactly right. Maybe very easy meeting if he does not raise these sensitive issues. If the president does go forward raise the issues of Russia and meddling in the U.S. election, the community is still concerned and they're out to do the same thing during the midterm elections. If the president just listens to Putin and denies any involvement, it will be relatively easy. If the president does not raise any issues of Crimea and Ukraine. If the president raises those issue, it could be a tough meeting. I think the president does have a good point saying the meeting with the NATO allies will be strange and tough as well. As you correctly point out. There are a lot of political uncertainty right now in the U.K.

BALDWIN: I want to come back, the frustration that we heard on NATO with the president is money. Let's fact-check this. How much are other countries, how much is he exaggerating?

BLITZER: The fact is the United States devotes a lot more to defense than the other NATO allies at least most of them about 4 percent of GDP. You can take a look at 3.57 percent for the United States, Greece 2.36 but if you go down to Germany is 1.24 percent. The commitment of the NATO allies is supposed to be at least 2 percent of their GDP going to defense. And to reach that level by 2024 some period along the next several years.

The president has been angry at the NATO allies for at least 30 years because he thinks the U.S. is spending too much on NATO's security and defense.

[14:05:00] The European allies spending way too little. I went back and interviewed him many times. He was always a railing against NATO. I found this little clip, this is with our own "LARRY KING" back in 1987.


BLITZER: Listen to what Donald Trump and private citizen said that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: These are countries that people understand the kind of wealth we are talking about and I will single them out. There are many other countries and taking tremendous advantage of this including NATO, if you look at the payments they were making to NATO, they disproportionate with everybody else and it is ridiculous.


BALDWIN: So, he's singing the same tune.

BLITZER: Exactly the same tune for 30 years. He's saying the United States is getting ripped off by the NATO allies. Lately, it's not even lately, over these many, many years he combines it with the fact that the U.S. has a trade deficit with the European Union and with the European countries. He thinks the United States is a sucker all of these years. That's a sensitive issue that's going to come up at the NATO summit and it is going to cause a lot of anxiety just as the G7 had a lot of anxiety.

BALDWIN: Looking past that, you mention the Putin/Trump summit, you are going to Helsinki for this meeting next week and you mentioned Crimea and Syria, what about meddling and what do you think will be the biggest headline?

BLITZER: A lot of people expect that the president will work out some sort of understanding with Putin on Syria. The Russians have enormous influence on Bashar Al-Assad regime in Syria. Iranians have been deeply involved in Syria together with her allies Hezbollah. The U.S. wants Iran basically out. The Israelis definitely want Iran out. They want them away from anywhere near the Golan Heights.

This may be one area where Putin and Trump may be able to work out some sort of new understanding. The Russians are sympathetic to that point. We'll see if it will work out or not. I doubt they will reach an agreement on Crimea. Russians are there and they're not going anywhere. And concerns that the Russians may be doing it again. Let's see how tough the president is on that front. So far, he has not been very tough in his public statements. Putin denies it and basically suggest that they take him at his words and all of his national security team are saying Yes.

BALDWIN: Wolf Blitzer, Wolf, thank you so much. We'll see you at 5:00 in the "SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer. Capitol Hill, Republican leadership is meeting with the president's new Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh.


MITCH MCCONNELL, MAJORITY LEADER IN SENATE: We look forward of the confirmation process in the next few weeks.


BALDWIN: Now, as Kavanaugh works to win over senators for his confirmation hearing, he faces intense opposition from Democrats and chief among their concerns how Kavanaugh would vote on women's reproductive rights and what's left of the Affordable Care Act.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D), MAJORITY LEADER IN SENATE: With Judge Kavanaugh's nomination, the president has put women's productive rights and vital healthcare protections particularly those that protect families with preconditions at grave, grave risk.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, (D), California: If confirmed, he's the most conservative justices in Supreme Court history. His views are outside the mainstream and there is every reason to believe he would overturn Roe.


BALDWIN: CNN congressional reporter Lauren Fox is with me now from the Hill. If Democrats have any chance of blocking Kavanaugh's nomination, they will need some moderate Republicans to vote against him. What are you hearing on the hill?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has a tough task ahead. He has to hold his Republican conference together and he does not need any Democratic support to do that unless of course he loses those Republican moderate members. I talked to Lisa Murkowski, a senator from Alaska, a Republican who has voted at times with Democrats on issues related to healthcare and abortion rights.

I talked to her about what she is going to be looking for when she talks with Kavanaugh. She's going to be pouring over his record and meeting with him one-on-one. I asked her if she's comfortable with exactly where Kavanaugh was on the issue of Roe V. Wade. Here is what she had to say about that.


SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI, (R), ALASKA: My first look is that he's certainly has the qualifications. I don't have an impression on Judge Kavanaugh as to where he may fall on the issue of abortion. Again, that's why I think all of us need to be doing our due diligence.


[14:10:00] FOX: Republicans and Democratic leaders are going to have a lot of work ahead of them in keeping their conferences together. There are a lot of red seat Democrats up for reelection in just a few months and senate leaders are going to have to try to keep their conferences together. A lot to be watching for upon Capitol Hill, Brooke,

BALDWIN: Lauren, thank you.

My next guest is a former clerk of Brett Kavanaugh. He is Travis Lenkner, he is with me now from Washington. Travis, welcome. TRAVIS LENKNER, FORMER CLERK OF BRETT KAVANAUGH: Hi Brooke, great to

be with you.

BALDWIN: This has to be exciting for you potentially and going through all of these different discussions over who he is, there is this massive focus on Kavanaugh's past opinions on presidential power and rightfully so. So, let me just play a little bit of sound. This is Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer today on precisely that point.


SCHUMER: He's even argued that sitting presidents should not face criminal investigation. No investigation of a president, is there any wonder that President Trump chose Kavanaugh from the list of 25 when we know he's obsessed with this investigation? Why did the president stick with Kavanaugh? Because he's worried that Mr. Mueller will go to the court and ask if the president be subpoenaed and ask to do other things necessary to move the investigation forward and President Trump knows that Kavanaugh will be a barrier to prevent that investigation from going there.


BALDWIN: That's the worry from a number of Democrats, Travis, you tell me how do you interpret Kavanaugh's perspectives on executive power?

LENKNER: I know Judge Kavanaugh in his 12 years on the DC circuit and more than 300 judicial opinions has seen a lot of cases involving separation of powers and the administration of state. There is a deep record to look at in terms of what he says the law is. I want to point out a talking point that's been spreading and that's what minority Schumer said there. It relates to a Minnesota Law Review article that Judge Kavanaugh wrote several years ago while he was a sitting judge, and, in that article, he did not state a view of what the law currently is.

He advocated or suggested a policy change that Congress may choose to make if it wished in order to change how the executive branch may interact with investigations that would be going on. I do think it is important to note when people are making statements of Judge Kavanaugh's views of investigation of a sitting president, the views expressed in that article were very expressly views of what could be if Congress wanted to change the rules and not views expressed about what is and that obviously is a critical difference.

BALDWIN: That's a fact check on that talking point. The big picture, if Trump is choosing someone, who does tend to think this way, and someone could ultimately decide the president's fate. Why would that be considered a conflict?

LENKNER: Well, I think it is not a conflict because I don't know what was in the president's mind when he made the selection. On paper, Judge Kavanaugh is impeccably credentialed and well-qualified. As the president said in the remarks last night, a choice of Supreme Court Justice is one of the most consequential choices that a president can make. It will far out last the Trump administration and the administrations that follows it.

That Minnesota Law Review article about presidential investigations was written when President Obama was in office. This is a judge that's taken views regardless of party and the regardless of the party of the sitting precedent. He's going to be sitting on the Supreme Court for a long, long time. That's what we should be thinking about and looking at when we consider his record.

BALDWIN: To your last point, Roe V. Wade, on the minds of many of the fate of Roe V Wade. Here is Judge Kavanaugh back in 2006.


JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE: On the question of Roe V Wade, if confirmed to the DC circuit, I will follow Roe V. Wade faithfully and fully. That would be binding precedent on the court. It's been decided by the Supreme Court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As to your own opinion?

KAVANAUGH: I am saying if I were confirmed to the DC circuit, senator, I would follow it has been reaffirmed many times including and Planned Parenthood --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand. But what's your opinion? You are not on the bench yet. You talked about this issue in the past to other people I am sure.

KAVANAUGH: The Supreme Court held this repeatedly and I don't think it is appropriate for me to answer that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, you're not going to answer the question.


[14:15:00] BALDWIN: You heard them then, what about now, Travis? Do you anticipate any changes if he were to be a justice?

LENKNER: The answers of a confirmation hearing will follow along a line of a precedent set by Justice Ginsburg in her hearing setting a clear rule of speaking generally about theories and approaches to the law. And not discussing issues that might come before the court. As to the treatment of precedent, Judge Kavanaugh literally wrote the book on the treatment of precedent. And his co-authors included, now Justice Gorsuch along with other judges who were appointed by presidents of both parties.

So again, there is a long record of more than 300 judicial opinions of his that we can review to see his respect and the power of precedent. I have no expectations that he'll depart from those principles in the individual case. Quite the contrary of the man I know and judge I know of his independent, impartial and fair and be consistent to those principles at all time.

BALDWIN: Did you notice, just last question. I couldn't help but not, watching him last evening in the east room speaking about his daughters and his wife and speaking about Justice Elena Kagan and speaking about his mother, speaking about his female clerks, it has to be sending a message.

LENKNER: Those are things that are important to Judge Kavanaugh as he said last night. I know he's been a mentor to all of them as he has been to me and other clerks. As Americans begin to learn more in the coming days about him, there is a lot to like about this man and this judge and I hope that everyone can no him as I do. He would be confirmed by unanimous consent, but I don't think we do it anymore in the confirmation battle.

BALDWIN: Travis Lenkner, thank you very much.

Just in here CNN is learning that Michael Cohen's team sees parallels to that of John Dean, the former White House counsel who of course flipped on President Richard Nixon. Don Lemon has the scoop and will join me live. The Trump transition saying it will not meet the deadline reuniting the youngest children who have

been separated from their parents. We have details on that.

The most extraordinary news of the day. The boys and their coach all pulled out alive from that cave in Thailand just before the heavy rain moved in. We'll take you there. You are watching CNN, I am Brooke Baldwin.


BALDWIN: I got some news on the Michael Cohen front, sources telling Don Lemon that the former Trump fixer, legal team are feeling like kindred spirits of John Dean. You remember Dean, we have him on CNN all the time. He's the White

House's insider who turned on Richard Nixon because he stepped up and told the truth and helped bring down the presidency in Watergate. Don lemon is here with me, got a couple of nuggets on all things Michael Cohen. Tell us with what your sources are telling you.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: It started with really the recording from Danna and Gloria on this network and then following up with my sources. Basically, tell me that again as they reported, he's not going to be a punching back for the administration. The relentless attacks by the president and from Rudy Giuliani everyday that Michael Cohen needs to speak for himself. He needs to protect himself and Michael Cohen is tired of being a punching bag and he's going to tell the truth. His version of the truth according to people who are close to Cohen.

His version of the truth is not the president's version of the truth or Rudy Giuliani's version which are not based in facts at all. I think according to friends as well, Michael Cohen, is tired of Rudy Giuliani going out in television and lying about him and telling things that are not based in facts at all.

BALDWIN: What is this about Cohen feeling like OK, hindsight is 20/20.

LEMON: That was really interesting to me and when I brought it up with some of the sources and friends, they say that's the most important thing from the Stephanopoulos' interview. He believes he did things that were best of his judgment.

BALDWIN: Back in the day.

LEMON: Looking back in it, hindsight is 20/20. That's self explanatory, maybe those were not in the best judgment and maybe they were not the right things to do and he'll do differently if he had to do it all over again. Who knows what he knows. He's not prosecuted or charged but we don't know what he knows. One quote out of that. He's telling the truth and the source says he's hitting the reset button and letting the chip falls where they make. If that seems as a smoking gun because he knows something about Trump. That's a reasonable inference, that's not why he's doing it. The reason he's talking now because he wants to make things right.

[14: 25:00] BALDWIN: He does not recognize the president anymore. Again, this is a man that Michael Cohen still does not face any charges but there is all of this that's coming out. The key thing is we don't know what he knows but there is his truth and clearly that's different than of Rudy Giuliani and the president.

LEMON: They say Cohen's truth is not the president's truth and it is not on the president's side or Rudy Giuliani's truth and it is on Rudy Giuliani's side. Rudy Giuliani is fighting a war of public opinion with the media. I think Michael Cohen and his representatives feel that he needs to do the same thing and one reason why he hired the new attorney, Lenny Davis, to fight that war is not afraid of a good fight.

BALDWIN: No, he's not. Don Lemon, thank you. We'll see you at 10:00 tonight.

LEMON: John Dean will join me tonight.

BALDWIN: That'll be a fascinating conversation on that. The Trump administration will miss today's deadline to reunite all the youngest children separated from their border. We'll speak to someone who's been taking care of these young children. Thailand, the story, all 12 members of the soccer team, the coach have been pulled out alive in this cave. Hear what happens during the final moment of this rescue.


BALDWIN: Today turning into really a day of disappointment for so many of the youngest children separated from their families at the southern border. These toddlers were supposed to be reunited with their loved ones today. Looks like it is not happening. In dozens of children are still just sitting in limbo. CNN cameras spotted some of those migrant children and their older siblings being transferred from holding facilities and then loaded into vans today. These are the lucky few who are expected to be with their --