Return to Transcripts main page
More Lawmakers Call for Subpoena of Trump's Translator; Ohio GOP Official Quits Party After Trumps Performance at Summit; Rescued Boys Honor Diver Who Died for Them; Trumps Military Parade Estimated to Cost 12 Million.. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired July 18, 2018 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Bottom of the hour. You're watching CNN, I'm Brooke Baldwin. Moments ago, the White House deferred over to the State Department when asked if it would support lawmakers' questioning of the U.S. translator that President Trump used during his someone with Russia's President Vladimir Putin.
These Democrats say the translator, the only other American in the room, should be subpoenaed before Congress to understand exactly what transpired in that meeting. The interpreter is Marina Gross, a veteran of the U.S. State Department. A number of Republican lawmakers are also weighing in, saying let's get a hold of Gross' notes at the very least, also that coming from head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BOB CORKER, HEAD OF THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: I don't want us to do is to end up at a place that actually lowers our
own credibility in dealing with it. We're looking at it. I can understand the request. I'm not sure it is appropriate to subpoena the translation notes. But if it is, we'll certainly look at it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: With me now, former federal prosecutor, Joseph Moreno, and global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott. Elise, I just want to start with you. I want to back up two steps, what's the role of an interpreter or translator in major moments like this? Like a Trump Putin summit. Would he or she even have notes? And is there a precedent. Has Congress ever subpoenaed an interpreter before?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: In recent memory there is no precedent for Congress to subpoena a translator's notes. Occasionally in a legal case or a terrorism case for instance sometimes, those translation notes are called into question and the State Department and Department of Justice vigorously protect the translator. Why do they do that? Because the translator is really an extension of the principal that they are translating for. In this case, she was the extension of the President. She's really speaking for the President. And if he spoke English, in a meeting, for instance, there would be no need to translate.
In the only way that you would know what he said was to ask him. I spoke to a real veteran of the State Department. Not only did he work with the Office of Translation Services here, but Gamal Helal was a Middle East interpreter and senior advisor to four presidents. Seven secretaries of state. A little bit different than this woman's case. I think he really tried to negotiations to give meaning to what the president was going to say before they even got in the room.
But in any event, he says we're an extension of the principal. Only the president has the right and the privilege of sharing what he said with someone else. And so, he said there's no precedent for Congress to do it. If he was asked, he would vigorously object to it because presidents really need to be free in the room in a one-on-one meeting to say what they're going to say to the world leader. If these notes were subpoenaed, it would set a horrible precedent for presidents to come and feeling free to speak their mind with a world leader.
BALDWIN: Legally speaking, how tricky is this?
JOSEPH MORENO, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Again, there is a legal implications and there are the practical implications. Legally, you can probably do this. I don't see any executive privilege, legal privilege, classification --
BALDWIN: You don't think executive privilege would come into play?
MORENO: No, because that usually deals with advice being given to a President by staffers. In this case that's not advice, it is simply a translation of spoken words in front of a foreign leader. There's no privilege concern there. Might be classified, but Congress can get around that by having a closed hearing. Purely from a legal perspective, if Congress was determined to subpoena this interpreter, they could do it.
Whether they should do it -- to Elise's point, you would set a terrible precedent to start subpoenaing interpreters, protocol officers, military and secret service agents. You would literally make it so the president had no ability to have private conversations. We all want to get to the bottom of this, absolutely know what happened. But we want to be careful what we are doing as it relates to future events.
BALDWIN: Elise, what about the notion -- some folks up on capitol hill have said, maybe if you can't get a subpoena for the interpreter, how about the if the interpreter has notes? Is that a possibility? Do they even have notes?
LABOTT: They have notes, Brooke. But most of the time those are kind of like symbols and taking it in a language, if you will, that only they can understand so that they can interpret the phrase or paragraph. Occasionally, the Middle East translator told me, the principal or president will ask the translator to serve as a note taker, also, in a one-on-one meeting.
[15:35:00] Afterwards they would ask the translator to put together some notes or even if it is not verbatim, but a kind of read-out based on what happened. Then again, they would be the right and privilege -- I don't use it in a legal term -- but privilege of whoever was speaking to share that with whomever.
BALDWIN: Do we even know if that happened? We know somebody was taking notes on Putin's side because he's had a whole conversation with his staff about military possibilities.
LABOTT: I would assume that the President did not. I've spoken to some former ambassadors who said that's probably a pretty good bet, whether it is John Bolton or Chief of Staff Kelly or someone in the NSC has talked to the translator to get an idea of what happened in the meeting. But for a verbatim or transcript of notes, those notes are the property, I would say, of the president.
BALDWIN: Got it. Elise, thank you. Joe, thank you.
Next, we'll talk to the man who says President Trump's summit with Putin was essentially the final straw for him. Why he resigned from his job as a Republican party chair in one county in Ohio.
[15:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: We have an update for you on the woman accused of acting as a Russian agent. She will be held in jail without bond until her trial. We are talking about Maria Butina, a Russian graduate student charged with conspiring against the U.S. Sara Murray's been in court for us. Sara, what have you learned?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brooke. The judge made the decision. Maria Butina will await trial in jail with no bond. She entered a plea of not guilty and there was a fight between the government, as well as her lawyers, over whether she was actually a flight risk. Argument the government was making is that Maria Butina is a Russian national. They are alleging she's essentially a Russian spy operating here in the U.S., and that if she was allowed out of that courtroom, she could get in a diplomatic vehicle, seek refuge at the Russian embassy and there is nothing U.S. law enforcement would be able to do keep her in the country and ensure she showed up in court.
Her attorney has said she's already faced a number of inquiries from a number of government agencies. They say her apartment was raided in April, and she still stuck around. He was unsuccessfully trying to make the case she is not a government spy and should have been released on her own recognizance. But that did not appear convincing to the judge who has decided Maria Butina is going to await trial in a jail cell.
BALDWIN: Sara, thank you.
To Ohio now, a long-time Ohio Republican party official calling it quits over President Trump's handling of Russia's Vladimir Putin at that historic summit. Chris Gagin. He was, until Monday, the chairman of rural Ohio's Belmont County Republicans, Belmont County nestled in the heart of Ohio's coal industry and trumps political base. Gagin said he was sitting in his law office Monday watching the Trump/Putin news conference when he saw Trump siding with Vladimir Putin over the U.S. intelligence community. Then he said, quote, something just snapped. Let's ask him himself, Chris Gagin is with me now live. Thank you so much for coming on.
CHRIS GAGIN, OHIO REPUBLICAN PARTY OFFICIAL RESIGNING OVER TRUMP'S HANDLING OF RUSSIA'S PUTIN AT HELSINKI SUMMIT: My pleasure, thanks for having me.
BALDWIN: Let me hear it from you. Why did you resign?
GAGIN: Well, I was sitting in this very seat, book. Remember the news cycle. We had the run-up to the NATO summit. Problem with Theresa May in the United Kingdom. The breached protocol with the Queen. Mueller dropped the indictment on the 12 Russians just before the meeting in Helsinki. And I'm sitting here watching this and there just cannot be any confusion. When the President of the United States, who has the sworn duty to protect and defend the United States is there on foreign soil, three feet from Vladimir Putin and he is openly taking the position of the Russian President over our intel community.
It was a point at which, as I said, something snapped, and I hold a political position, I don't hold a policy position. I thought that my only recourse, my duty as my conscience told me, was that I needed to simply resign because could I not, in effect, be the front man for the president here in Belmont County any longer.
BALDWIN: Wow. That's a big deal that you have resigned because of this and as a Republican. You tweeted you remain a proud conservative, remain a Republican. But I know that there are a lot of Republicans out there who are struggling with the party that they have been loyal to their whole lives. I was talking to conservative columnist Max Boot, wrote a whole piece in the "Washington Post" about now he's rooting for the Democrats. So, Steve Schmidt formally with the John McCain campaign. I'm just curious, have you had similar thoughts about not only resigning from your post but turning your back on your party?
GAGIN: No, I honestly don't think that's the right thing to do. Because it is important for the Republicans to have that larger conversation within the family. For example, I'm not trying to destroy the party.
[15:45:00] I think Jane Murphy Timkin in Ohio has done a tremendous job and was a Trump supporter. I think Congressman Bill Johnson from Ohio's 6th Congressional district has done a phenomenal job. Senator Corker rather. It is not about destroying the party. I've never seen somebody in the president that is such a great connecter to people, he has such difficulty actually communicating. Look at what we had today in the White House. We had -- because I heard it. They had a tremendous workforce development meeting. Should have been great. Economic information, how we'll retrain people. Thought it was fabulous.
Then we get into the problem of Russia not targeting, whether he answered the question or not. That's all now that's going to be talked about. Trump is going to essentially complain that nobody's giving him coverage. It is that continual cycle and that language of grievance that I don't have any illusions that my resignation's going to change the base. It is not. What I think national Republicans have to think about, if you have moderate to establishment Republicans and certainly those on the independent side that have conservative views, if the president starts to lose us -- I'm not saying that's where it is at the moment. But I'm saying if he starts to lose us, then the base alone is not going to be enough to carry him through.
BALDWIN: I'm wondering if he might lose you -- if you left your important post in your county because of what you witnessed on the world stage in Helsinki, last question to you. I know you voted for Trump in 2016. Do you have regrets? Would you vote for him in 2020 if he ran again?
GAGIN: First, I don't regret -- I would have not an able to support Hillary Clinton really under any situation. So, no, I don't regret that vote. I was one who voted because of Neil Gorsuch. I think Brett Kavanaugh will be a fine addition to the Supreme Court.
BALDWIN: How about 2020?
GAGIN: We'll have to see how the rest of this plays out.
BALDWIN: All right. Chris Gagin in Ohio. Thank you so much, Chris.
GAGIN: Thanks for having me, Brooke.
BALDWIN: You got it.
Coming up next, those 12 boys rescued from a Thai cave speak out for the very first time. They talk about how they survived and what they are doing to honor that diver who lost his life trying to save them.
[15:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: Finally, we are hearing from those 12 Thai boys rescued from the flooded cave. Describing days without food and drinking only rain water dripping between rocks. Before heading back home to their families the boys spoke out publicly. Here's how one of them described the miracle moment when the first diver found them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THAI BOY RESCUED FROM CAVE, (through translator): When they got out from the water, I was a little surprised. So, I just greeted them. I thought, this is really a miracle and I didn't know how to respond to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let's go straight to our Asia correspondent Jonathan Miller still in Chiang Rai, Thailand. And Jonathan you were at that news conference earlier. Talk to me about what those boys shared and how they paid tribute to the diver who died. JONATHAN MILLER, CNN ASIA CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, you know, in a
world of relentlessly bad news it is absolutely wonderful to be able to bring you this great news story and those boys who some had virtually given up for dead because they were stuck in that chamber for nine days before they were even found. And then, it took 17 days to extract them all. Against the odds, insuperable odds, even the Thai Navy SEAL divers tonight said they didn't think that they'd be able to dive them out, but they did and not only get them out it proved in hospital that all of them were in pretty good physical condition considering and mental condition, too.
And they were released, discharged from the hospital in Chiang Rai tonight in amazing form and they told their stories of daring do and how they had realized that they were trapped down in there, how the initial panic had turned to how to survive and great tales of comradely and trying to explore out of the cave system. But then as you mentioned they turned their attention to that Thai former Navy SEAL diver that died.
And they were only told of this two days ago and they stood in front of a portrait of this man tonight and the youngest, the smallest of them all, a little 11-year-old called Titan said, sir, thank you for giving your life up so that we could live ours. It was very moving, very touching and tonight the Wild Boar football team is alive and kicking.
[15:55:00] BALDWIN: So wonderful. Looking at that little boy staring at that diver, oh! It's beautiful. We are so thrilled that they're all, the boys and coach, A-OK and heading home. Jonathan Miller, thank you so much for covering this from the very beginning for us.
Still ahead here, President Trump appears to say Russia is no longer trying to attack the U.S. election system. The White House trying to clarify. Hear it for yourself coming up.
[16:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: Just in to CNN, Trump's military parade, two U.S. defense officials now revealing exactly how much it will cost. Remember, that parade is scheduled to take place November 10th, day before Veterans Day. Ryan Browne is all over this for us at the Pentagon. What is the price tag?
RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: We're told the initial planning figure for Trump's military parade is about $12 million. We are told that's how much the parade is expected to cost. It's as it is planned right now. Now, that of course, could be subject to change if they decide to add additional units or things like that but that's the planning figure military officials are using as they plan this parade.
Now what's interesting about the figure, it is very close to what the cost of the Pentagon put the cost on war military exercises with South Korea that were recently canceled, that was costed at $14 million. President Trump said those exercises cost a fortune, were tremendously expensive and he used their cost as a rationale for why he cancelled them that's after his talks with North Korean leader Kim
Jong-un. So very interesting symmetry of the cost of the military parade and these exercises with South Korea that President Trump once labeled tremendously expensive.
BALDWIN: Tremendously expensive. Ryan Browne, thank you, at the Pentagon. That will do it for me today. Thank you so much for being with me. Let's go to Washington. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.