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Trump Touts Tanks for July 4th Celebration; Source: Hickenlooper Aides Encouraged Him to Drop Out of 2020 Race After Next Debate or Consider Senate Bid; Whistleblower: Pompeo Security Detail Asked to Run His Errands; Day 2 of July Deliberations in Navy SEAL Murder Trial. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired July 2, 2019 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:34:25] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Tanks, tickets and a big old break from tradition. President Trump is changing the way D.C. celebrates the Fourth of July, but his plans are raising some red flags instead of fireworks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to have planes going overhead, the best fighter jets in the world and other planes, too. And we're going to have some tanks stationed outside. You've got to be pretty careful with the tanks because the roads have a tendency not to like to carry heavy tanks so we have to put them in certain areas. But we have the brand-new Sherman tanks and the brand- new Abram tanks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Brand-new circa 1950s, we should say, though. That aside, many are concerned that this nonpartisan event is turning into a paid political rally.
[13:35:08] We have White House correspondent for Reuters, Jeff Mason, and CNN military and diplomatic analyst, retired Rear Admiral John Kirby, here to discuss this.
First off, Jeff, how did this become a ticketed event?
JEFF MASON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, REUTERS: Well, the White House is saying that the tickets, there's going to be kind of a VIP section near the Lincoln Memorial. They're saying the tickets will be for military people, friends and family, people who might otherwise have been on the White House South Lawn for this event.
Usually, presidents hold a Fourth of July event but do it at the White House. And they bring in military people, they bring in staff, and they let them bring their families and kids. And they get to hang out on the South Lawn and watch the fireworks. So they're saying that ticketed part is for them.
KEILAR: So that's a big event normally at the White House but this is a much bigger event --
MASON: Oh, yes.
KEILAR: -- that encapsulates everyone on the mall, which is important to note. It becomes part of that larger celebration that's on the mall.
MASON: Much bigger, yes.
KEILAR: So what was your reaction, Admiral, when you heard about the tanks, all the military equipment that's going to be out there?
REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY & DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I was glad it was a little less than what he had said he wanted originally after coming back from Paris and Bastille Day. But I'm still troubled by it.
The Fourth of July is not a military holiday, Brianna. We have Veterans Day, Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day to honor the troops, appropriately so.
The Fourth of July is about independence. It's not about the day we won that independence. It's about the day we declared that independence. It's about something that transcends just government itself, certainly the executive branch.
So I'm very concerned that he's militarizing this and using that as an excuse to sort of seek a little bit of glory for himself as commander- in-chief.
KEILAR: There are many people who agree with you. One of them is definitely not White House senior counselor, Kellyanne Conway. She defended this revamped ceremony.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: This is -- this is a public event. It's open to the public. The public is welcome to come and celebrate our great country, the greatest democracy.
I'm not going to allow you to politicize it. The success of this administration in opening up so many jobs for individuals, what we've done for veterans.
There's no final form yet. But America will hear the whole speech.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: The speech is crucial, right?
KEILAR: What we're going -- the speech is the thing we're going to be watching. Why does that matter so much? MASON: Because the president has a history of politicizing things,
even when he goes and speaks at events that are not supposed to be political.
We were just talking about the first day of his administration when he went to the CIA and gave a very political speech. He went to the Boy Scouts and gave a very political speech. This is sort of part of his DNA when he speaks.
So the White House is saying that's not his intent, that's not what he's going to do here. But we'll see, TBD. We'll see what comes out of his mouth on Independence Day.
KEILAR: More often than not, he does lean into that political side of things. A safe bet would be that he's going to get political. It would be noteworthy if he didn't.
So, Admiral, as you are looking towards the speech, what are you anticipating, what are your concerns?
KIRBY: The same things that Jeff has articulated. Again, I'm not comfortable with much of this celebration as it's shaping up.
I hope that he stays on script and that that script demands that he stay nonpolitical, nonpartisan.
That instead of touting his own accomplishments or assailing the Democrats or even trying to wrap himself up in the military as some sort of protector of our democracy and making that -- as if their loyalty is to him, that he focuses more on what the meaning of Independence Day is all about, which is about freedom of political thought and political speech and embracing a wide discourse of different ideas.
Our independence was hard won not just on the battlefield but in Congress, in politics. It's because many very smart men disagreed with one another. I would hope that he embraces that same idea of political discourse and dissention when he gets up and talks.
KEILAR: Admiral Kirby, Jeff Mason, thank you so much.
KIRBY: Thank you.
KEILAR: Just ahead, accusations from a whistleblower against the secretary of state, saying that he misused his diplomatic security. We'll have the details of this CNN exclusive.
[13:39:13] We're waiting for a verdict as the jury in the murder trial of a former Navy SEAL continues to deliberate. And the members also making a request.
KEILAR: This just in, we're learning new information about the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate, John Hickenlooper. A source close to the campaign saying that his senior aides are actually encouraging him to drop out soon.
Let's bring in senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny.
What's going on here?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, there was a major reshuffling of his campaign last evening. The campaign manager, the finance director, the communications staff and some others said they were going to be leaving the race.
The reality is John Hickenlooper, the former mayor of Denver, former governor of Colorado, is locked in the bottom of the race here and it's getting expensive.
But we are being told that senior aides urged him to leave the race, urged him to consider running for Senate in Colorado. He said he wasn't interested in that.
He said this a short time ago on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN HICKENLOOPER, (D), COLORADO GOVERNOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, we thought it was time to make a change. You know, these campaigns are long, hard campaigns. You don't always get it right with the first team.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: So he's talking about his staff and saying you don't always get it right with your staff. Staff is rarely the issue in something like this. The candidate clearly has struggled to break through.
I am told by a person very close to him, who spoke to him last evening, saying he's not getting out, saying he's staying in at least through the Detroit debate, of course, here on CNN, trying for one more shot to break through. But the reality is, after July, the rules get harder for candidates to make the debate.
[13:45:18] So Hickenlooper still in, but on the sidelines -- Brianna?
KEILAR: Jeff, thank you so much.
KEILAR: In a CNN exclusive, we are learning that House Democrats are investigating accusations by a State Department whistleblower that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his family are misusing his taxpayer-funded diplomatic security detail.
The whistleblower claims Pompeo asked special agents to run his personal errands, including things like picking up Chinese food and getting his dog from the groomer.
We have CNN's Michelle Kosinski, who broke this story.
Michelle, tell us, is the Diplomatic Security Service responding here?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: No. But we don't know that the secretary himself asked for these tasks.
So we spoke to State and they gave us these carefully crafted responses that took four days to produce.
But basically this whistleblower went to Congressional investigators on a key House committee and said that there were these concerns within diplomatic security, or D.S., about tasks that they're being asked to do, like picking up Chinese food, making them feel like they're, quote, "Uber eats with guns, or picking up Pompeo's dog from a groomer, or picking up his adult son from the station, the train station and driving him to the family home.
Under long-standing D.S. protocol, the secretary would be in the car during these trips unless there was a particular threat that necessitated these trips.
In one of the statements that the State Department sent us, they said that at no time did the secretary or anybody in his family ask anybody in D.S. to do anything that was inconsistent with protection.
Does that mean that maybe his staff was asking for these tasks, because they haven't denied that these trips took place?
In at least one of the instances, we did see evidence of a staff member of Secretary Pompeo's asking D.S. that one of these trips be done.
The bigger issue, though, here, Brianna, is this whistleblower says multiple people within D.S. don't understand why Pompeo's wife, Susan, has her own dedicated full-time security detail. This is unusual.
And our sources say that, in the past, if a secretary of state's wife got a security detail, it would only be based on a particular threat. It would be for a short period of time only.
According to protocol, a specific threat assessment would have to be done for this spouse in a particular office within D.S. The whistleblower says that multiple people don't believe that that protocol was followed. They don't believe that there's a threat that merits this protection.
The State Department said only that there's a high threat level surrounding the family. They said that an initial threat assessment was done in 2018 -- Brianna?
KEILAR: Michelle Kosinski, thank you for that exclusive.
Weeks of extraordinary testimony, a bombshell admission, and now we are waiting for a verdict in the murder trial of a former Navy SEAL. We're going to have an update from San Diego on the fate of Edward Gallagher, next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [13:53:20] KEILAR: We're into day two in jury deliberations in the murder trial of a former Navy SEAL accused who is accused of war crimes. Still no verdict. Edward Gallagher is charged with stabbing to death a young ISIS prisoner in Iraq before taking photos of himself posing next to the teen's corpse. The former Navy seal is facing life in prison.
CNN's Nick Watt is outside of the courtroom.
You've been following this the whole way, Nick. What are you hearing now?
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, the jury deliberated for a couple of hours last night. They came back in this morning. And after an hour, they asked to hear once more a recording of the first witness who had been called by the prosecution.
Now, once that witness, who is a SEAL officer, he had described how he saw Eddie Gallagher treating this wounded ISIS detainee. He then went away. He came back and he saw that the detainee was now dead. And he saw Eddie Gallagher with a knife in his hand. He did not see Eddie Gallagher stab that detainee.
After that portion of the testimony, the jury said, we have heard enough.
This jury is seven people, seven fellow military men. They only need to reach a 5-2 majority in order to convict. We're told that military jurors usually come back with a verdict quicker than civilian juries.
It's very clear from everybody involved in this case, they would like this to be over by the July 4th holiday -- Brianna?
KEILAR: All right, Nick Watt, thank you for that update. We'll be tracking that with you.
[13:54:47] Democrats launching a new tactic in their attempts to get the president's tax returns. We'll have the details, next.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, there. I'm Brook Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Thanks for being here.
Democrats are escalating their fight to get the president's tax returns. The House Ways and Means Committee just filed a federal lawsuit against the IRS and the Treasury Department and their leaders to get their hands on those documents.
[13:59:57] Before today, House Democrats had been in a months-long back and forth with the Trump administration. The Ways and Means chairman, Richard Neal, asked for the returns back on April 3rd. Deadlines were missed. Letters were exchanged.