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Trump new Tweet on Collusion; Family Separations at Border; Congress Looks at E-Cigarettes; 3-D Gun Blueprints Discussion. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired July 31, 2018 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[08:31:43] DAVID GREGORY, CNN ANCHOR: As we've been reporting this morning, President Trump is syncing up with his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, tweeting just moments ago this, collusion is not a crime but that doesn't matter because there was no collusion. Of course he's talking about collusion with the Russians who were meddling in the 2016 election. Is this the Trump legal team's new defense or tacit admission of liability for the president?

Joining us now is Senator Dick Durbin, the Democratic whip, who also serves on the Judiciary Committee.

Senator Durbin, I want to go through a few topics with you, but let me start with getting your reaction to this. In essence what we're hearing before the Mueller investigation is complete is a movement from there was no collusion with Russians to meddle in the elections to, even if it happened, it wouldn't be a crime. How do you see it?

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: I can't keep up with Rudy Giuliani's theories of defense. And they change almost by the hour. You know collusion at one point never happened. The next point, if it happened, it's not serious. It goes on and on. And, you know, the bottom line is this, we've got to wait until the Mueller investigation is complete. Many of us have known Bob Mueller, myself for almost 20 years, his life story tells us that he is an honest, sincere, professional man who loves his country. Whatever his conclusion is on the issue of collusion, I will stand by it.

Let us -- let me also add that we shouldn't forget obstruction of justice, which is clearly a crime.

GREGORY: Right.

But, senator, this is going to be a political process. It's most likely going to be a report to Congress. Should Democrats be in control in the House, and if, as Giuliani suggests, it's basically a question of interpretation. The report comes out. The, you know, one side argues it means x, the other side argues it means y. If that's the scenario, would it be a political mistake for Democrats to try something like impeachment against the president if it's that close of a call? DURBIN: Impeachment has happened very seldom in the history of the

United States and it's a very serious part of our constitutional process. I wouldn't presume for a minute where this might go in terms of impeachment until all the facts are in and the investigation is complete. We have sworn to uphold this Constitution and we should take it seriously.

GREGORY: But it's a high bar to think about something like impeachment?

DURBIN: It is the highest bar and it has only been used infrequently in our history. And at that point we've never truly had a successful impeachment, if you can characterize it as such, of a president. I think we ought to focus on the reality of the moment, and that is a professional investigation underway by a professional investigator and prosecutor in Bob Mueller. Let him complete that without intimidation from either the president or any members of Congress.

GREGORY: Let me ask you about immigration. You have put a lot of attention and focus on reuniting families. A federal judge has weighed in talking about some areas of success for the administration, but still putting a very high bar on what they have to achieve to get these families reunited.

Here are some of the statistics, which are startling still, if we look at those families separated. You've got almost, what, 1,400 plus families reunited with children aged five and older, 700 plus children still left in government custody, almost 400 children released under appropriate circumstances, all of this in a court filing.

What are your big questions at this point?

[08:35:00] DURBIN: There's so many questions. Seven hundred and eleven lost children? This administration, with the zero tolerance policy, decided that they would forcibly separate children from their parents. And then to add insult to injury to disgrace, they didn't keep track of the parents or the children. We literally have lost children at this point. We don't know where the parents are. That is dereliction of duty. It's gross neglect.

We can have border security without bullying. We can fight terrorism without taking toddlers into detention. And we can have a bipartisan approach, comprehensive immigration reform. But we need an administration that is driven by those goals, as opposed to hatred for immigrants.

GREGORY: There's talk about a government shutdown by the president, who wants funding from Congress for a border wall. Two things are true. One, the problem of immigration has been growing for years and neither Republicans or Democrats in control have been able to solve it. Two, this is something that Donald Trump campaigned on. There's a constituency for it. Aren't Democrats going to have to give at some point and fund this wall, whether they want it or not?

DURBIN: We offered the president a bipartisan approach that would have solved the immediate problem of DACA and the dreamers and dealt with the reality of the immigration situation, and it included funding for his wall, and he rejected it. It was, in my mind, a mindless effort to once again strike out at those who are coming to our border at any cost so that he would appease some of the people who were his advisers in the White House.

The bottom line is this, we need border security. We need to keep dangerous people out of the United States. We need comprehensive immigration reform. We passed it in the Senate five years ago.

GREGORY: But do you have to give on funding for a wall?

DURBIN: Well, we have given to some extent. We're not going to have some mindless $40 billion project that makes no sense whatsoever. But an orderly process that includes some barriers has been accepted on a bipartisan basis. The president is the one who rejected it.

GREGORY: I want to end on a couple of issues that raise the question of government regulation, one of which you've been very, very thoughtful about and concerned about. That's the issues of e- cigarettes. The company Juul, which markets very successfully, they've got a market capitalization of $14 billion as they put out an e- cigarette that is particularly targeted, not just to those who are trying to stop smoking, but to middle school kids and to high school kids and they produce flavored pods, like mango flavor, to entice kids who wouldn't otherwise smoke to start smoking what is, you know, smokeless tobacco in an e-cigarette.

What should be done here legally? What should Congress do to try to regulate this a little bit better than it's been going on?

DURBIN: I spent my entire congressional career fighting big tobacco. I sponsored the measure that took smoking off airplanes. Frank Lautenberg in the Senate, I worked on it in the House. We really have made some strides forward and we've seen a dramatic decline in the number of children who are using tobacco products.

But, sadly, at the same time, we've seen the numbers of those using these e-cigarettes and vaping has increased by a thousand percent. Ask any of the principals and teachers at the middle schools and high schools across America what's going on. These kids are using this addictive nicotine product of vaping and they're using it because they're offering flavors like bubble gum and sugar cookie and berry crush, designed specifically to entice children, not adults.

Juul ought to be ashamed of itself. Their ads they're running, the full page ads in the newspaper, harken back to the days when big tobacco was in complete denial about the damage they were doing to our children and our people.

GREGORY: And, of course, they do help non-smokers as well by helping them to quit the addiction to smoking tar. They're still getting the nicotine. That's a debate that moves forward.

The issue of 3-D guns, and we've talked about so often this morning, the president has weighed in, watching this, saying that he's taking it up with the NRA, saying that he's looking into the production of 3- D plastic guns, which is now allowed, being sold to the public, that he doesn't seem -- it doesn't seem to make much sense.

Is there momentum here to build on to try to curtail or to cut off this production?

DURBIN: Doesn't common sense suggest that if we have background checks to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people that we wouldn't want to put a recipe on the Internet for someone to build one of these weapons at home, a weapon that may not be detectable by x-ray? That sort of thing just makes us a more dangerous country and we know it.

The president talks big on these issues, seldom delivers when the gun lobby is against him. Let's see if this administration will do anything to overcome the ruling by Secretary of State Pompeo which set the stage for the production of these 3-D guns.

GREGORY: Senator Dick Durbin, always good to see you. Thanks for your time this morning.

DURBIN: Thank you, too.

GREGORY: Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, David, as you know, there's these deadly wildfires in northern California and the battle to get them under control. We have a live update for you from the scene, next.

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[08:43:49] CAMEROTA: The wildfires in northern California are still wreaking havoc. At least eight people have been killed so far.

CNN's Dan Simon is live in Redding, California, with the latest.

Any progress, Dan?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Alisyn.

After days of grim news, firefighters are finally making some serious progress. This fire is now 23 percent contained. The fire is burning away from populated communities. Now, that does not mean that the threat is over, but it does mean that thousands of people now can now get back in their homes.

At a community meeting last night, we saw how anxious people are, but crews say they want to get people back into their homes as quickly as possible. But to do a recovery, that takes a lot of work. We've got to clear the roads of debris. You've got to get the power back on. You have to clear all the downed power lines.

Now, you do have 17 major wildfires burning across the state of California. Of course, resources are stretched thin, but they continue to pour resources into this particular wildfire.

This is already the seventh most destructive wildfire in California history. And this is not even the height of wildfire season. That's usually in late August and in September.

But the good news is, they're making some good progress.

David, we'll send it back to you.

GREGORY: Dan, thank you so much.

[08:44:59] President Trump could reverse the administration's position on 3-D printed guns, just as states sue to keep blueprints for them off the Internet. We will talk to an attorney general taking part in a suit coming up next.

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GREGORY: President Trump tweeting just moments ago, "I am looking into 3-D plastic guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to the NRA. Doesn't seem to make much sense."

It comes as eight states and the District of Columbia are suing the Trump administration to block people from being able to download the blueprints for them starting tomorrow.

Joining us now is Karl Racine. He's the attorney general for the District of Columbia.

Karl, good to see you.

KARL RACINE, ATTORNEY GENERAL, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Good morning, David.

GREGORY: So this is a new wrinkle. This is a new development. We should remind folks that it was a settlement with this administration that allowed this production and these blueprints to go forward. And now the president is saying, well, that doesn't same like a great idea. Is he too late or is this new momentum for your position?

[08:49:58] RACINE: Well, we think it's helpful that he's made these comments. But, of course, unfortunately, we're not in the business of being able to rely on President Trump's tweets. That's why attorneys general, including the District of Columbia, the state of Washington, and others, went into court yesterday evening in order to get an injunction to prevent the publication of these blueprints that would allow for the manufacturing of handguns and military-grade weapons via high-tech 3-D machines. Obviously, that's reckless and would create chaos and violence in the streets of the United States.

GREGORY: Well, so what -- what is the basis of this compared to normal gun manufacturers? There's obviously all kinds of curbs on certain kinds of weapons. You feel like this slips under those in some fashion?

RACINE: No doubt about it, David. Most guns that are manufactured in the United States are manufactured by manufacturers who actually have licenses. Traceability is very important. After a gun is manufactured, as you know, a serial number is placed on that gun. Moreover, most guns, after they're sold, are sold to owners who have to -- have to have go through a detailed and rigorous background investigation.

Allowing 3-D guns to be manufactured basically obviates all of those requirements. We'd live in a situation where guns are not traceable, they're not subject to background checks for the owners and most importantly perhaps these guns, because they would be made out of plastic, will not be detectable by common means of detecting guns. Guns in schools, guns in government buildings, guns in airports.

GREGORY: The reality, though, as the NRA, the National Rifle Association, argues is that this would join a -- basically a pile of both undetectable, you know, weapons, ammunition that are all part of the black market and that where regulations can't keep up with technology anyhow so it would be foolish to try to regulate these.

RACINE: Well, I find that argument to be wholly unpersuasive. The fact that there are weapons in the system that defy and get around rules and regulations doesn't mean we should encourage and allow for the production of guns that are undetectable and not traceable in the system. That's why we're in court. Whether or not Mr. Trump agrees with us or not, we're going to get an injunction to prevent these guns from being manufactured.

GREGORY: The question of how tardy everyone is to this process now, is it too late to stop what you're looking for? Is there a remedy through Congress or do you have to go through getting an injunction to try to stop it?

RACINE: Well, I think the time is of the essence. That's why the attorney general in Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro, went to court this last Friday and got an injunction against the company from publishing those blueprints. That's why we're going to court in the state of Washington to get a nationwide injunction.

It is time for Congress to act. I saw Dick Durbin on your show expressing great concern. But in the meantime, the state attorney generals will act and will seek a court injunction.

GREGORY: But the concern is that the technology is available, being downloaded, it's, in effect, out there, which makes enforcement and regulation all the more difficult.

RACINE: That's exactly right. And that's why we need to stop this action immediately. And the court is the fastest process.

GREGORY: All right, Karl Racine from Washington, D.C., Karl, thanks so much.

RACINE: Thank you, David.

CAMEROTA: All right, David, I don't know if you saw this yesterday, but President Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was on NEW DAY.

GREGORY: On this program?

CAMEROTA: Yes, he was on this program.

GREGORY: Oh. For long?

CAMEROTA: And he was -- well, it took a long time.

GREGORY: (INAUDIBLE).

CAMEROTA: It was a long (INAUDIBLE) chunk of time.

GREGORY: Yes.

CAMEROTA: In fact, I'd say 24 hours, it lasted.

GREGORY: It lasted -- I mean actually it only ended seven minutes ago.

CAMEROTA: Right. But -- so last night the late night comedians took notice of that, including one Stephen Colbert. Here you go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": And Giuliani also unveiled what's sure to be an air-tight defense for his client.

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: They're not going to be colluding about Russians -- which I don't even know if that's a crime, colluding about Russians.

COLBERT: I don't even know if that's a crime? You're his lawyer. You're supposed to know what the law is. That's like your doctor going, I don't even know if that's a disease bleeding from your eyeballs. I don't know. Who knows?

According to Giuliani, Michael Cohen says that two days before the Trump Tower meeting with Russians, there was a strategy meeting which they probably should have had before they hired Rudy Giuliani because -- because there's no indication this planning meeting was public knowledge before Giuliani brought it up on air. In other words, surprise. In other words, he's bringing something up just to tell you his client isn't guilty of it! He's just giving away damaging information. He's going to be the first lawyer in history to have to treat himself as a hostile witness.

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[08:55:07] GREGORY: We're kidding around, but, obviously, we're very happy to have Mayor Giuliani on the program and giving us extra time so that you could --

CAMEROTA: Definitely.

GREGORY: You could go through this. And a lot of news was made and a lot of people are talking about it and trying to understand what he meant. But we always want that to happen here on NEW DAY.

CAMEROTA: I appreciate that. Yes, we are very appreciative of him and all of his time and he -- he allowed for even more after we did get him some green room coffee. GREGORY: That's right.

CAMEROTA: I think that that helped.

GREGORY: Because a lot of people don't know that you don't so much conduct interviews as you perform a deposition. There are volumes of these -- these --

CAMEROTA: You saw me taking notes.

GREGORY: These papers where --

CAMEROTA: Because --

GREGORY: Sir, on the 23rd of --

CAMEROTA: When he was talking about the previously undisclosed meeting --

GREGORY: Yes.

CAMEROTA: And I asked who was in that non-existent meeting, he then had names and so I was writing it down and you can see there's just lots of other extraneous (ph) (INAUDIBLE) --

GREGORY: Look, it made -- it made a record and there was a lot of news and there's a lot to discuss and try to understand.

CAMEROTA: And it was very funny when Stephen Colbert goes full jazz hands --

GREGORY: Yes.

CAMEROTA: You know that it's funny.

GREGORY: You can't miss.

CAMEROTA: OK.

GREGORY: All right, CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow picks it up right after the break.

CAMEROTA: We'll see you tomorrow.

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POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. 9:00 a.m. Eastern, 6:00 out west. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.

Today, Paul Manafort has his day in court. This morning, the former Trump campaign chairman will be in a federal courtroom in Virginia as a jury will starts to be selected for the bank and tax fraud case against him as that begins as we speak.

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