tv CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto CNN June 19, 2019 7:00am-8:00am PDT
video evidence showing those crimes. this is a jaw dropping case. and of course still a lot of unanswered questions. >> disturbing beyond belief. dan simon, thanks very much. good wednesday morning to you. i'm jimsciutto. >> and i'm poppy harlow. hope hicks is testifying behind closed doors on capitol hill. this is all part of the investigation into possible ob struck of justice by president trump. >> the white house saying they will not let her answer questions citing executive privilege. manu raju o, you've been speaki to lawmakers. are the lawyers claims executive privilege here?
[ inaudible ] >> reporter: attorneys are saying that -- in a letter citing that let are saying that she does not have to respond to questions during her time in the white house. [ inaudible ] >> yeah, manu, apologies. the audio there, but just to summarize, the white house lawyer who is present there is claiming executive privilege as expected here. and we'll see if that continues. representative karen bass telling manu that this is ridiculous that this is happening. we'll keep watching as the hearing continues. correspond to sources telling kaitlan collins, the relationship between the president and hope hicks has changed recently. one of the president's most trusted and closed confidants now we're hearing that the two rarely speak. >> let's get to kaitlan collins. so what changed and does that
raise concerns in the white house that hicks might provide damaging testimony? >> reporter: what we're seeing, it is a pretty dramatic shift from what their relationship used to be. essentially people described them as in near constant conversation during the years that hope hicks worked for president trump and now you're seeing now that she's been out of the white house for 15 months or so, their relationship has changed dramatically based on what our reporting is telling us. and that includes that they rarely speak anymore. now, this all started when hope hicks left the white house in march of 2017. she grew on to kind of take a break for a few weeks, but then she debated coming back to the white house or the administration at some point and then she got a job at fox on the west coast doing essentially pr for them. and that is really when you saw this big shift in her relationship with the president. and based on what some of our sources telling us, there were several times when she didn't return the president's calls leaving people to ask what
happened to hope. we're told this isn't a sign of her feelings towards the president, that she still supports him, but a desire for hope hicks to distance herself from the orbit that she had occupied for so long, which is donald trump's. she stays in touch with people from the white house, people from the campaign who often seek her out for advice on how to handle the president. what you are seeing is a pretty dramatic shift in the way the two of them interact from someone who the president used to call more than he even called his chief of staff in the west wing just to give you an indication of how close they were and now there is so much distance between them. >> that is saying a lot. it is. i wonder though what you are hearing about white house officials. do they still believe that she won't say anything damaging to the president? because remember, she had previously testified on the hill that she had talked about sort of white lies that she would tell on behalf of the president. >> and that was one of the most striking comments from that testimony when she did admit that she told white lies on behalf of the president and that is why some people are cautious about her testimony today. because even though they don't
believe that she is going in there to give up all this damaging information on the president, they know that she was one of his closest advisers, a close confidant, someone that he told so much to that she was essentially a family member to them. but we've heard that they say they are not concerned about her testimony, that she don't think that it will go poorly. but some of these people also had to be reminded about that white lies remark from hope hicks. >> a lie is a lie from the white house. and we've seen more than one. let's go back to manu. i think the audio is corrected. tell us what you are hearing from lawmakers in the room regarding hicks' testimony. >> reporter: there are white house officials in the room, attorneys from the white house counsel's office who are making it clear that she will not answer questions about her time in the white house. they are referring to a letter sent by the white house counsel last night pat cipollone who says that she is immune from answering questions about mercer advice in the white house. and of course there are a number
of questions that democrats had planned to ask her. specifically efforts allegedly by the president to undermine the mueller investigation, to dismiss the special counsel as well as his handling of the james comey firing in addition to his relationship with michael flynn. those are questions that democrats planned to ask her, but i'm told by democrats in the room that the white house attorneys are objecting to those lines of questioning, that she will not answer those questions, that she is immune from testifying. and democrats are frustrated. one american karen bass who sits on the committee said that it was, quote, pretty ridiculous that she are not answering those questions. jerry nadler the chairman of the committee told hicks and the attorneys in the room that it is absurd that they are going down this line by saying she cannot answer these questions. so that is not being resolved. it could ultimately end up in court. that is one way that they could
presumably see how it turns out. they do still plan to ask her questions about her time on the campaign. we are hearing that she is answering questions about her time on the campaign. at the moment members say members have not gone to that question about her knowledge about the hush money payments to silence the alleged affairs involving the president, the hush payments in the run up to the elections. they say there is no legal basis for the white house to block that kind of questioning when it does come up. >> manu raju, thank you very much. joining us a former federal prosecutor. legally, constitutionally, can a white house official who served this country in the executive branch claim to not have to answer any questions regarding their time in the white house? >> the executive privilege can be used, it is almost as a cloak. almost like taking the fifth amendment. but to cloak here, not herself, but her boss donald trump. but like the fifth amendment, it
can't cloak ongoing crimes and even a crime that was committed in front of her. so if they were really smart and parsing their language here as lawyers, which they can do, they can look at this way. some of the things that she can testify certainly not the things -- pre-his being elected. that is not covered by executive privilege, no way. it is not executive privilege pre-election. so of course they can go after that. now also her thoughts, what she is thinking -- taking from the mueller report. emails would fever get leaked. those are her thought processes. her actions. she says in the mueller report i would jump in front of him to keep him, trump, from going out and taking a "new york times" interview. that is her action. that is not a communication that she has with trump. >> so she can answer to actions. >> actions and thoughts versus communications that she had.
later on in that same page in the trump report -- in the mueller report, she says he liked that, that session that i had with the knock tim"new york" so that is a communication. if they aare smart about it, an i know they are, go after her thoughts and her actions versus her communications. >> interesting distinction. >> you're a good lawyer. >> parse the language. >> and before you go, you have 1ed that nadler may be able to come up within your words some creative ways of narrowing the assertion of executive privilege. >> absolutely. to me that is the way do it. if i were in the room, that is the way i would do it. because i would think, you know, we're saying here we heard the report about maybe that she distanced herself from the president. i don't think necessarily going out and working for fox in their pr department is necessarily showing that she has distanced herself from the president.
that is just me. so let's assume that she has not distanced herself from the president and she is going in there and she will answer the questions to the best of her ability to make the president look good. first of all, plre-his election those are all fair game. you asked about the constitutional issue. there is none. there is no executive privilege there. then when she is in the white house, anything having to do i would say lawyering it her actions, her thought processes, those are not covered. >> or were there possible crimes involved. good to have you on. thank you. a shakeup at the department of defense. the acting defense secretary patrick shanahan is out. another acting secretary is in. his name, mark esper. >> all of this unfolding as the department decides how to handle escalating tensions with iran, key decisions about troop deployment. barbara starr is joining us.
and the pentagon it seems has been fry going to rein back the state department and white house on the ramping up of military action. so with this transition, does that diminish its voice? >> reporter: it is hard to say really. mark esper takes over as the new acting defense secretary at midnight sunday. so now we're on our third pentagon chief, two of them acting in seven months as the iran tensions ramp up. right now esper is beginning to attend meetings inside the pentagon. he is beginning to get briefed up on all of these issues. everything from nuclear command and control to those threats, iran, russia, north korea, china. but he is coming to the job midnight sunday with these iran tensions as high as ever before. the pentagon has been very adamant all of these forces going to the middle east are aimed at deterrent, that they do not want war with iran. the president has said he does
not want war with iran. but right now it is not really clear that iran is getting the deterrence message as they have had this series of what the pentagon says is attacks against commercial tankers in the region, putting shipping at risk out there. so esper walks into this. where he may have a stronger voice than shanahan, he has years of experience knowing secretary of state mike pompeo in the past, he worked with national security adviser john bolton. he has a lot of experience in the national security community. he knows capitol hill. he has these relationships. so it may be a bit of a smoother fit than shanahan was over the last couple of months. but how strong his voice will be, certainly still remains to be seen. >> barbara starr at the pentagon, thanks very much. so there is record 1e9ing turnover at the top of the administration. abby phillip is joining us from
washington. the list of acting roles continues to agree. >> reporte -- to grow. >> reporter: and this is in some cases by design. president trump fires people without having people to replace them. but what is extraordinary about this lengthy list of acting officials at some of the highest levels of government are that in many cases they are r are in cr roles. we're talking the secretary of defense which has been basically a vacant position since january. the homeland security secretary, u.n. ambassador, on issues that president trump believes are of critical importance to him. the immigration and customs enforcement director is out of that job. we have a temporary person in that position. also citizenship and immigration services, another temporary official. this is just part of a pattern of this administration of making personnel moves without having people in places to replace them and in some cases putting names up for senate confirmation when
they haven't fully vetted these officials. i think that was a clear case in the case of the secretary of defense even though patrick shanahan had been confirmed for a previous administration post, the white house clearly didn't know about this new information that would make it more difficult for him to get confirmed as zesecretary of defense. so president trump says this is about giving him more flexibili flexibility, but it is clear that the acting officials can't be in the roles permanently but they are also hamstrung to make long term decisions. and that is why the good government groups raise alarm about this kind of trend because it really makes these positions a little bit less cape abable o doing the long term planning that they need to do make the best decisions. >> and it is really important especially that thinks right now given what is going on with iran. abby, thank you. >> we're already a nation at war in iraq and afghanistan. still to come, an independent investigation finds that the murder of "washington
post" columnist jamal khashoggi was both deliberate and plea d premeditated. and calls for sanctioning the saudi crown prince. and a ninth american has died in the dominican republic, but officials say this they are all independent of oanother. and mitch mcconnell puts his foot down on ren pa raparations that it would be hard to figure out who to pay and doesn't support paying reparations to descendants of slaves because we can't know who all was responsible for it. we'll let you hear for yourself ahead. too many people in pain settle for
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does call for further investigation and targeted sanctions against the crown prince. i'm joined by a "washington post" opinion writer who himself was a prisoner in iran for a number of months. good to have you on. >> thanks for having me. >> so let's start with some of the details in the report because we can't get away from that. it talks about a plastic bag being put over his head, suffocating him. and crucial details about recordings of the people involved speaking about his dissection before he even arrived at the embassy referring to him as a sacrificial animal. is there any doubt as you read this report that this was a premeditated murder rather than as the saudis claimed early on a spur of the moment thing? >> havevery little doubt at all. i think the report confirms what we've long suspected and these new details with the various quotes from the people involved and the fact that they lured jamal into the consulate and
were lying to him telling him that the plan was to take him back to saudi arabia to face charges or some other form interrogation, it is just -- it breaks my heart, it is disgusting. and i hope this spurs people into action. although i worry that it might not. >> the trump administration as you know blew through a deadline required by law under the maki g magnitsky act requiring them to make an assessment as to who was responsible. the u.s. intelligence say it was likely directed by the saudi crown prince and the trump administration says they are still gathering facts. is it your impression that the strategy is to play this out, delay it until people forget about it? >> that is certainly what it has looked like for a long time. but i know that this newsroom won't forget about it.
there are people all over the world that are calling for justice in this case. and i think it is a great reminder that when you throw all your eggs into the basket of one relationship and something horrible like this happens, we're boxed into a corner in how to react. the congress has come forward, called for action. the public is calling for action. when the administration sort of turns a blind sieye to this, it tells you something about the state of the union at this moment. >> and we're with you, certainly a story that we are not letting drop. we talk about it at every opportunity here. i wonder, what was different about this in the initial weeks after this, was that congress -- even republican controlled senate, even the president's close allies in the senate like a senator lindsey graham were very vocal in their criticism of saudi arabia and there have been some votes in the wake of this taking back support for the saudi-led war in yemen for instance. but is there any remaining resolve in congress to hold this
administration accountable, forcing their hand on saudi arabia, or is that fading too? >> in my frgconversations with members of congress, yes, there is still resolve on this issue. i think there have been members of the house and senate who realize that our relationship with saudi arabia, while very important one strategically, is in need of an overhaul. and with the prospect of a young leader in his 30s, you know, they don't have term limits in saudi arabia. we might be facing a relationship with bin salmmoham salman for four or five decades to come and i think now is the moment to decisively act and hold him accountable. seems obvious to me. >> the administration is presenting something about fases choice here. they say either hold them accountable and destroy the
relationship or you have the relationship. the u.s. holds allies accountable for a long time. >> sure. >> it disputed israeli settlement for decades. so why are they reluctant to call the saudis on ultimate for the brutal murder? >> the economic and security ties run very deep, but that does not mean that those ties are unbreakable. or in need of adjustment. i do think that there are personal relationships involved that we have heard a lot about jared kushner's relationships with the crown prince, but i think that it is time for congress to continue to step up a push to seek justice. because ultimately this is also a first amendment issue. whether or not the united states stands for freedom of the press as we long have. there is so much at play here. and we have an opportunity to really do the right thing. we failed do that so far and i hope that this report kicks us into action.
>> jason, we stand with you at the "washington post" and loss of your colleague. certainly a story we'll stay on top of. happening now, just moments ago the environmental protection agency just announced a major change that could boost the coal industry, environmentalists worried about the rollbacks and they think that they could be devastating to the environment. we'll discuss it ahead. want to brain better? say hello to neuriva. so nice to meet you june, jay, ji, jj kay, raj, and...
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so this really matters. this just in, the trump administration moments ago revealed it has officially put in place its final rule that will overturn an obama era effort to regulate coal fired power plants. >> the limits are being lifted. tom foreman is following the details. so tell us what was in the rule and now no longer the rule. >> simply put the obama administration through the epa was trying to say we as a nation must move away from coal-fired plants. that is one of the chief causes of the particulate in the environment leading to global warming. so they said we have to move toward clean power. essentially what the trump administration has said today is you know the epa overstepped here, the federal government has no right to tell everybody to do
all of this. states should handle on this on their own and they can come up with their own variety of rules to possibly regulate this to any certain degree. the bottom line is if you are an environmentalist out there for sure, but also a lot of moderate voters who are concerned about climate change, this is a step in the opposite direction to say no, we're going back to coal-fired, it is perfectly fine and we're very little worried about this. and of course keeping in step with one of trump's campaign promises. we're moving ahead with coal and it is a great thing going into the future. >> aren't the economics of this already moving away from coal? isn't this fighting just the reality, right, beyond any desire to keep the planet from warming? >> sure, it is fighting the reality of that and also fighting the reality of where we're going in the future. i think there are plenty of economic analysts who would say it is a bad bet to keep hanging
on to an industry that is on the decline when you could be connected to those that are on the incline. new types of power, new developments this power. but you have to bear in mind a lot of the president's support came from regions of the country that have struggled a good deal in recent years. he wants to say for political reasons you will be okay even if the long term consequence may not be so good for everyone else. >> and if your job relies on coal, obviously you want to keep that job. and we understand that. i would just note, tom, just to reiterate something that you pointed out, that under president obama, the epa's own analysis showed that implementing these obama era rules would have prevented 3600 premature deaths a year and 1700 heart attacks and 90,000 asthma attacks. >> numbers will all go the wrong direction now. >> okay. >> greenhouse gases and also
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searching for answers about what could have happened. >> i don't believe that it was something that intention alleal se, but there is something that is oof. i have no reason for believe -- brother was very healthy. just got a clean bill of health from his physician. and i have no reason to believe that he dropped dead for no reason. we'd like to get some kind of testing done by american doctors to help us understand what could have been the cause of my brother's death. >> rosa flores is joining us with the latest from santo domingo. it was just a week ago we were talking to you about another american couple that had died in the dominican republic. what is the government saying? >> reporter: you're right, there are so many questions that we have been pushing for absences -- answers on those questions. and in this case, we're learning more from the family. as you mentioned, the family telling cnn that joseph allen, a man 55 years of age from new
jersey, was a regular at this resort in the northern part of this country. so much so that the staff called him by name, they welcomed him by name and the ill-fated day on june 13th, it was the staff that found him dead. the hotel is not commenting. and there are at least nine deaths of americans here in this country that we've been following that we know of. and from talking to both dominican republic authorities and authorities in the united states, they both believe that the cases are isolated, that they are not related. in relation to joseph allen, we have a copy of the preliminary autopsy report and that report shows that allen suffered from cardiac arrest and that his body did not show signs of violence either internally or externally. so we continue to push for answers here. and at the end of the day, what we're hearing from authorities at this point in time is that all of these cases are isolated,
and that they are not related. >> okay. rosa flores, we're glad you're down there reporting on it and our thoughts of course are with his family. right now on capitol hill, senator cory booker is testifying about a hearing focusing on reparations for descendants of slaves. this as mitch mcconnell says that he opposes the idea -- ahead. the best simple dishes ever? great tasting, heart-healthy california walnuts. so simple, so good. get the recipes at walnuts.org. you'when you barely the clip a passing car. minor accident -no big deal, right? wrong. your insurance company is gonna raise
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moments ago, 2020 presidential candidate and senator cory booker testified on capitol hill about a commission to study and make reparations to descendants of slaves. booker introduced a bill to that effect this spring, it is the first of its kind in the senate. he has 12 co-sponsors. this comes as mitch mcconnell says that he opposes reparations. when asked about it, here is what mcconnell said. >> i don't think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago for whom none of us currently living are responsible is a good idea. it would be pretty hard to figure out who to compensate. >> let's talk about this with op-ed columnist for the new york
time, and cory booker also talked about it on a radio show this morning. he called mcconnell's statement ignoran ignorant, saying it is igno gga to think this is about writing a check for somebody. all booker's bill is asking do is study the issue. >> exactly. let's say that it doesn't preclude writing checks. i think people get tied into knots about we can't do that because that would be wrong. america has done that forever. i mean, we have given away land. at the very same time slaves were being freed, america by an act of congress was literally giving away thousands of acres of land in the west and midwest to white peasants from europe. right? like we do this. we want to give someone an economic -- as a country we do this. and people have across the world
paid reparations for horrors. yous have g y jews have gotten it from germany. i do think that the best way is -- maybe checks aren't the right way, but the idea of not studying it seems insane. >> there are many other things that could be done for example more coal similscholarships, mo opportunities. and today is emancipation day. and you look at the polling in april, thoughed 32% of americans strongly favor this. not a majority, but it is getting a lot more conversation the trail. >> right. >> and these democratic candidates i bet you they will be asked about it in the upcoming debate here. where do you think it goes? >> i mean, i hope that they do
establish some commission just to think it through. and i think -- one thing that mel is doing is being intentionally obtuse. personal guilt is separate from societal responsibility. in addition to that, it is not about america's -- only about america 150 years ago. it is about all the things that america did, local, state and federal governments did in america to oppress black people, to prevent them from acquiring, accumulating and transferring generational wealth. i mean, for -- >> right. jim crow, votes rights violations have come far later than emabs pancipation of slave. >> just the last 50 years in chicago, black people fleed the south, go to the north and west and the great migration. white people in chicago
basically say we don't want you here. and they set up what they called covenants, what do they call them, real estate covenants that basically said i'll sell you this property, but you have to guarantee that you won't ever sell to a black person. at the height of that, like 80% of the properties in chicago were governed by that. that means that the government is complicit. and when that case went to the supreme court which is part of the government, people don't think of it as part of the government, they said that is okay. >> listen to more of mcconnell here. here is what he argues america has done in the wake of slavery. here he is. >> we've tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. we've elected an african-american president. i think that we're always a work in progress in this country. but no one currently alive was
responsible for that. >> it is important to note mcconnell was the one who also said the single most important thing for republicans to do was to make president obama a one term president. >> right, >> right. but nothing he said there was repairing anything, right. fighting of the civil war didn't repair anything. in fact, as soon as -- the year the civil war ended, the kkk blossomed, was founded. and then you had reconstruction, but liberals in the government basically abandoned the idea of reskru reconstruction. the compromise of 1877 to settle the election of 1876, they just said, fine, we'll just pull all the federal troops out of the south. the federal government knew what was going to happen in the south. so those southern states rush to call constitutional conventions, and they were not shy about what they were doing. they said, we are here -- i've been reading the minutes of
these because i'm writing a new book about it. we are here to establish white supremacy in this state. mississippi does it. then it just spreads to state after state after state. the federal government sits back and says, okay, it's happening and we're not going to do anything about it. >> and we know where race relations are given the fact that barack obama was president. we're going to keep talking about this. i think the candidates will as well. i appreciate you being here. >> sure. >> i think you might write your column on this today. sounds like you might. thank you, charles. >> just a fascinating conversation. democratic congresswoman alexandria ocasio-cortez is now under fire for comparing i.c.e. detention camps on the u.s. southern border to concentration camps. how she's defending that description today.
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all right. so this morning congresswoman alexandria ocasio-cortez is standing by her use of the term concentration camps to describe migrant detention centers along the u.s. southern border. listen to what she told her followers this week on an instagram live. >> the united states is running concentration camps on our southern border, and that is exactly what they are. they are concentration camps. i want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that we should not -- that never again means something. >> now, some critics have slammed the use of that term concentration camps for invoking the holocaust, but the new york democrat says she's comparing the situation to internment camps where japanese americans
were held during world war iri.s what reaction have we heard from lawmakers? >> well, first and foremost, we have seen conservatives quickly jump on those comments up here on capitol hill. you saw that notable back and forth between her and congresswoman liz cheney last night over twitter. the house majority leader kevin mccarthy just a few minutes up here on the hill, he called for the congresswoman to apologize. here's what he had to say. >> i think congresswoman aoc needs to apologize. not only to the nation but to the world. she does not understand history. she does not understand what's going on at the border at the same time. but there's no comparison. and to actually say that is really embarrassing. >> now, while republicans continue to drill down on those comments and krit sides her for them, the congresswoman is defending herself and standing by what specific words she said and what the meaning of those
words she believes it meant to incapsulate. here's what she said to my colleague manu raju last night. >> there is a very clear academic consensus on what constitutes a concentration camp. that's a mass detention of a community of people without a trial or due process. i think it's pretty universally noncontroversial to say that the administration is doing exactly that and meets the academic requirement for what a concentration camp is. >> you're not comparing this to what happened in world war ii? >> no, no. while con scentration camps wer employed during that time, they were also utilized all over the world, including in the united states with the japanese internment. >> now, her comments and the controversy has certainly created a moment with house democratic leadership having to answer questions for something that this freshman congresswoman has said.
just a few minutes ago, hakeem jeffries, the house democratic caucus chairman, seemed a little out of sorts answering that question. he said he's unfamiliar with the context in which she made that comment, but he said it's obvious that inmumty humanity i taking place. >> sunlen, thank you very much. >> thank you all very much. see you tomorrow morning. >> "at this hour" starts right now. hello, everyone. i'm erica hill in today for kate baldwin. long-time con iffidant hope hic testifies before the house judiciary committee. the white house arguing, not surprisingly, she can't answer questions about her role as one of the president's most trusted advisers because of, you guessed it, executive privilege. >> your reaction to the white house saying hope hicks should not answer questions about