Return to Transcripts main page

AT THIS HOUR

Putin Aide: Putin-Trump Summit Is Happening; Supreme Court Deals Major Blow To Labor Unions; Political Newcomer Stunned By Her Upset Win; Top House Democrat Falls In Stunning Primary Upset. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired June 27, 2018 - 11:00   ET

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


[11:00:00]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: I will see you tomorrow morning. "AT THIS HOUR" with Kate Bolduan begins right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Forget the historic summit with Kim Jong-un, that may be old news now as it's looking more and more likely President Trump will be soon sitting down for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin according to a Putin aide.

This meeting is happening even though the Trump administration has not officially confirmed it. Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton, who was a fierce critic of Vladimir Putin, he just met with him in Moscow.

Let's get the deal here. Michelle Kosinski is joining me now from the State Department with much more. Michelle, what's going on here?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Kate, we're expecting to hear all of the details tomorrow, not today, even though the national security adviser, John Bolton, is giving a press conference today.

So, we don't know what exactly he'll say about the summit. That's something that we'll be watching, but we know that this has been in the works for a long time. There are a couple of possibilities that we are hearing from sources here.

One that it could be July 10th, before the president goes to the NATO summit and meets with some of the U.S.' closest allies and that's raising some eyebrows among those allies wondering why he wants to sit down with Putin first.

But it could be a scheduling issue because the World Cup is also going on in Russia, but another possibility is just after the NATO summit. We think that there's a strong likelihood it will in Helsinki, Finland and not in Vienna, which has also been floated.

Why is that? Well, we know that the U.S. preferred Helsinki according to our sources, but it also could be convenient just because the flying time will be shorter so that the president can then go on to NATO and it will be a quick trip for Vladimir Putin, as well. But we also know that there are people within the State Department and the White House who aren't really sure what could come out of a Trump- Putin summit. What really the goals would be other than a meet and greet.

But these sources also say that it's been the president, who has really been pushing for this and part of that is because he loves the attention from the summit he had with North Korea's Kim Jong-un and he wants a similar "eyes of the world" moment and to try to further this relationship.

I will say that John Bolton meeting with Putin is really interesting today because he's been so tough on Russia in the past calling for stronger punishments, calling Russian meddling in the election an act of war.

So, there could be a good cop/bad cop thing going on here where he lays the groundwork so that the relationship can improve once Putin and Trump, we expect, do sit down together.

BOLDUAN: And any -- I mean, this has been long discussed. What is the sense from NATO allies that you're hearing? What are you hearing from other diplomats on this?

KOSINSKI: They have a lot to say about this. First of all, you know, there's concern and there has been for the last few days that he's going to first sit down with Putin before going on to NATO, if that is the way this is scheduled out.

Although we know that the White House could frame this, as well. He wanted to meet with Putin and see if there could be progress made on a number of tough issues like Syria, like Ukraine and then he can go on and brief U.S. allies and possibly reassure them.

But others are concerned about this saying, look, the G7 did not go well. It was contentious between the U.S. and its closest friends. So, one diplomat said if it's all smiles with Putin and then all snarls at the NATO summit, that sends a very bad message.

BOLDUAN: Michelle, what kind of preparations are needed? I mean, we know there was a ton of -- I mean, a ton of preparations that was expedited when it came to the summit in Singapore. What kind of preps are going on? Are you hearing any behind the scenes?

KOSINSKI: Well, I mean, yes, there was preparation and there were a lot of meetings leading up to the Singapore summit with Kim Jong-un, but expectations had been lowered and lowered and lowered and look what came out, a kind of vague commitment.

That indicates that they didn't really feel -- they wanted to have that meeting, not the need to really know what the goals are and like we were saying, there are many within the administration who aren't really sure what could come out of this summit.

What would these goals be? But it seems that the way president sees it is this can further the relationship. Let's talk about some of these tough issues and you know, there doesn't have to be something necessarily find on the line if it can help down the road.

I mean, there are plenty of people who see that as an opportunity, as well. I think what rankles some including U.S. allies is the fear that, first of all, Trump could give away something to Putin or you know, Putin could walk away from this gaining something. We don't really know what.

BOLDUAN: Right.

[11:05:09] KOSINSKI: You know, there could be concessions that he can somehow get in this private meeting and that the optics will be bad, that it looks like Trump values this meeting with Vladimir Putin.

The person who for us meddled in U.S. democracy when things could be very contentious and there are tariffs and basically, the trade wars starting between the U.S. and what should be and what normally are its closest allies -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: So much more on this. Michelle, thanks so much. Really appreciate it. Let's get over to senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance, now for more perspective on this. He's live in Moscow. What are you hearing there, Matthew?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, thanks very much. You join me here at the Interfax News offices in Central Moscow, the Russian capital where within the next hour or so, we expect that John Bolton, the national security adviser to appear on this stage behind me and give a briefing as to the nature of these meetings with Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister and Vladimir Putin have been confirmed as has been reported in the past few minutes.

That a time and a date has been agreed for this historic summit between Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, and President Trump. We don't know yet when exactly it is or where the venue will be.

But my contact since -- the Kremlin have told within the past few minutes just before we went on air that the meeting will be after the NATO summit, which is taking place in Brussels on the 11th and the 12th of July and it will be taking place in the third country, as well.

Again, we'll get more clarity on this hopefully within an hour or so when John Bolton speaks to the media, but also this joint announcement will be made tomorrow as for the exact location and the exact timing of this summit -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Matthew Chance, all right, let's see what John Bolton has to say and I'm fascinated to see what he's got today. Thank you, Matthew.

Also, we are following more breaking news this morning. The Supreme Court handing down a major blow to unions representing public sector employees and the president already tweeting about it.

Saying this, "The Supreme Court rules in favor of non-union workers who are now, as an example, able to support a candidate of his or her choice without having those who control the union deciding for them. Big loss for the coffers of Democrats."

CNN justice reporter, Jessica Schneider, is outside the Supreme Court with much more on this. Jessica, lay it out for us. What do the justices have to say today?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, the Supreme Court striking down in particular this Illinois law that allowed public sector unions to collect these so-called fair share fees from all employees, all public-sector employees regardless of the fact of whether or not they were union members or not.

The Supreme Court today saying that that is a violation of free speech and striking down this Illinois law, but what's important here is that there are 22 states around the country that have similar laws just like this and this really does deal a major blow to these public- sector unions and their future, their financial stability.

So, the court in this case saying that it did violate the free speech of this particular employee. This was the case brought by Mark Janus. He was a public-sector employee in Illinois and he said I shouldn't be required to pay these fees to the union because union inherently promotes political speech despite the fact that they say my fees only go to collective bargaining and wage disputes and employee issues.

So, the Supreme Court siding with that employee today. The governor of Illinois was out here speaking saying that this is not anti-union, instead this is pro-workers, but of course, the unions have come out forcefully against this opinion saying that this is going to dilute their power and their strength and their ability to protect workers.

This was a 5-4 decision. It was written by Justice Samuel Alito and of course, interestingly, as a few of these cases have been, this was highly contentious, and the dissenters were quite ossiferous.

Justice Elena Kagan, she actually read her dissent from the bench, again, a highly unusual move as only one taken when justices very vehemently disagree with the majority ruling and Justice Kagan said that this really dilutes union power.

She also said that there is no sugar coating today's opinion and today's decision will have large-scale consequences, of course, diluting the powers of public sector unions. So, Kate, today, the Supreme Court ruling that this Illinois law that says all employees had to contribute to the public-sector union, they struck that down, and of course, this will have big effects nationwide because 22 states have similar laws -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Jessica, an important note, as you're saying, it is unusual for the dissent to read -- be read from the bench and this has happened two times in two days now.

SCHNEIDER: Right. What's very interesting about this is you notice the change, perhaps in the balance of power here at the court. This term alone, there have been 17 cases decided 5-4. [11:10:09] So it really shows you just how important that nomination and the appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch and President Trump was. Justice Gorsuch, perhaps the deciding vote in this because after all, the Supreme Court back in 2016, they decided, or they were listening to, at least a similar case that involved the public-sector unions.

And when it came down to it, they were going to go down the same way today and Justice Antonin Scalia ended up passing away and the decision came down in a 4-4 split and of course, today, Neil Gorsuch, the newest justice here siding with the majority and siding with the conservatives and showing how important that nomination by President Trump was for the conservative cause here -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: And Jessica, always, the rumor game and the guessing game and will there be retirement once the session comes to a close. What are you hearing?

SCHNEIDER: Well, there are no retirements at least for now, that was the announcement from Chief Justice John Roberts. He made that announcement from the bench. Of course, today being the last day of the Supreme Court's term.

We understand that Chief Justice John Roberts, he actually made a bit of a joke about it. He did announce some retirements today, but those were only from court employees. No justices announcing any retirements, but of course, it is still a possibility.

Of course, we're keeping an eye on Justice Anthony Kennedy and seeing if he may, in fact, retire, but no announcements today. Today being the last day of the term, but it can still happen. Who knows, Kate?

BOLDUAN: That would be a wild joke to play and we have some retirements to announce of employees at the Supreme Court. Jessica, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Let's talk more about the consequential case that we were just discussing with Jessica right now, CNN contributor, law professor at American University, Steve Vladeck. Steve, thanks for coming in.

STEVE VLADECK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Kate, great to be with you.

BOLDUAN: Give me your take. This is a major decision, and a major 5- 4 decision overturning nearly 40 years of court precedent in holding that fair share fees violate the First Amendment. What does it all mean?

VLADECK: Yes. I mean, I think it's a pretty big blow, Kate, to public sector unions especially in those states where the legislators are less supportive of them. It could be much harder for these unions to build strong financial capital and it would be much harder for them to have the kind of economic bargaining power that they've exercised historically.

I think the real question is going to be how do state legislatures respond? Do they try to find more ways of protecting these kinds of institutions or do they just leave these unions to fend for themselves with a far, far smaller war chest, so to speak.

BOLDUAN: I want to get your take, Steve, on what Jessica was talking about and kind of how dissent was read from the bench twice in two days and Kagan reading from the bench, rarely, if ever has the court overruled a decision let alone of this import with so little regard to the usual principles of decisive of precedent." And just what we're seeing within the court right now.

VLADECK: Yes. I mean, I think there's no question that the real story for this term is a series of very important, very sharply divided wins for the conservative majority. We've had 19 5-4 decisions from the Supreme Court this term and in 14 of those, including the bid that we were just discussed in, we saw the five conservatives prevailing.

This is the importance of Neil Gorsuch, with the justice that replaced Antonin Scalia instead of Merrick Garland, it's all coming home to roost.

BOLDUAN: Taken together with the rulings yesterday, we really are seeing the impact of just what one Supreme Court seat can really do, right?

VLADECK: No question. I think, you know, whatever was posted of the individual decisions, I think the larger pictures here is that this is a very comfortable, conservative majority. It is a conservative majority that will issue rule-ins consistently (inaudible) in these cases with business, for example, against employees.

That will make it harder, for example, for employees to vindicate contractual rights against their employers and the real question that we all have to be asking, Kate, is whether at the state or federal level are going to respond to these decisions or whether the Supreme Court is going to have the last word on all of these decisions that are impacting or that are going to impact everyday Americans' lives.

BOLDUAN: Yes, as of today, though, this ruling is a big victory for opponents of unions and the Trump administration. Again today, Steve Vladeck, thanks so much. I really appreciate it, Steve.

VLADECK: Thanks, Kate.

[11:15:02] BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, the political stuns are sending shockwaves across both parties. An unknown, little known 28-year-old Democratic socialist taking down one of the top Democrats in the House. What does it mean for the midterms and beyond.

Plus breaking this morning, the officer who shot and killed an unarmed teenager, Antwon Rose, as he was running away now charged with criminal homicide. We're going to go live to Pittsburgh.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: All right. Try this one on for size. Never elected 28- year-old versus 19-year incumbent twice her age who is one of the top Democrats in the House. Who would the smart money be on? Well, the smart money lost last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's right here. She's looking at herself on television right now. How are you feeling? Can you put it into words?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I cannot put this into words.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[11:20:00] BOLDUAN: That is authentic surprise. That is the reaction of now Democratic nominee for Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, when she found out that she bested longtime Democratic Congressman Joe Crowley in a New York primary last night. And this is what she told CNN this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXANDRA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: We won because we organized. We won because I think we had a very clear, winning message and we took that message to doors that had never been knocked on before. We spoke to communities that had typically been, I think, dismissed and they responded.

The Democratic Party is a big tent and there are so many ways to be a Democrat and I am proud to bring to Congress, a different lens and what the future of the Democratic Party may be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: All right. So, what happened and what does it mean for Democrats in 2018 and beyond? With me now CNN political director, David Chalian. All right. David, what happened?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, as you just noted, there she was. She's the big star of the night, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Kate, this is astonishing and an earthquake in the Democratic Party because, as you know, this isn't just generational, which it is.

There is a racial component. This is a minority majority district and Joe Crowley, you know, an older white guy, not quite representative of that. Exactly. It's also ideological. This is a Medicare for all, get rid of ICE progressive, liberal Democrat inside the party.

And she didn't just squeak by -- 57 percent to 42.5 percent. So, this is going to be a wake-up call and not just what it means that the number four House Democrat is out in the primary for what that means for leadership elections if the Democrats win in November.

But also if you're a 2020 Democrat looking at the White House and running in the nomination race for the Democratic nomination in 2020, you are taking lessons from this about where the energy is and where the fire and the passion is inside the Democratic Party right now and it's right now on the side of the progressive and insurgent grassroots kind of energy. BOLDUAN: If you look anything like Joe Crowley, you have some work to do.

CHALIAN: You do, indeed. I'm not saying -- this district looks different than Iowa and New Hampshire, but I think there are real lessons here about we've seen this resistance, anti-Trump energy, and we've seen this new generation of leaders who haven't run before come in and women.

This is the year of the women, another Democratic woman emerges as the nominee. That is clearly a response to the president.

BOLDUAN: Trump did OK last night.

CHALIAN: Totally, he had a great night in South Carolina, Henry McMaster, the gubernatorial nominee now, he gets 54 percent of the vote through the primary. You know Trump was just there and Pence was there over the weekend. He was Trump's earliest supporter in 2016 and he had help there.

On Statin Island, the 11th congressional district, incumbent Dan Donovan, Trump endorsed him even if he voted against his tax cut.

BOLDUAN: Best (inaudible) ever.

CHALIAN: But he endorsed him. Michael Grimm, an ex-convict, that does still seem to be some political baggage that you can't --

BOLDUAN: There is political baggage these days.

CHALIAN: This is the second ex-con to lose in a Republican primary if you remember West Virginia. In Maryland, again back to that progressive win, Ben Jealous emerges as the democratic nominee in Maryland, a 10-point victory in a crowded Democratic field.

Bernie Sanders came in to help him because he was big on the Bernie Sanders campaign, and then, of course, Mitt Romney wins his primary in Utah last night big time and of course, it's Utah so the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney is the one probably headed to the United States Senate.

BOLDUAN: I don't know, man. Where is the smart money on that? Let's see. I'm kidding. Great to see you, David. Thank you so much.

All right. Joining me now to piece through it all a little bit more, CNN's senior political analyst, Mark Preston, Alice Stewart, CNN political commentator and former communications director for Ted Cruz, and Angela Rye, CNN political commentator and former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus.

All right, Angela, Democratic leaders in the House wake up this morning saying what?

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Wow. I think it's really interesting to read some of the analysis and there's been a lot of comparison, Kate, to this particular race with Joe Crowley and Eric Cantor, and I just beg to differ, right?

This is the beginning of I believe, a wave and this is the beginning of people all over the country saying Democrats, you've been a little tone deaf and off message. The fax that you would go after Maxine Waters who has clearly been a spokesperson for the party definitely helping with the millennial surge.

You are off message here and I think the other thing that you have to be aware of is the implications of the Supreme Court decisions, Kate. You just talked about Janice versus Esme, that's huge.

It's a big labor union blow to folks, working Americans all over the country and the fact that we have folks who are legislating from the bench is major and Democrats and progressives are going to demand an answer for that.

Of course, there was this voting rights blow last week and the week before that, and the issue with the wedding cake. So, just being moderate, just being safe is no longer enough and unfortunately, for folks in the Democratic leadership, so often they have to tow a state liner.

At least that's what they believe, and folks are saying not anymore. It's not OK to be safe and to hold your tongue, you have to be courageous and speak out for what's right.

[11:25:03] BOLDUAN: No longer safe times, Mark Preston. One thing that we have seen in the past when it comes to a lawmaker facing a surprise defeat is that they didn't take their challenger seriously or seriously enough early enough, is that what's happened to Joe Crowley?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, a couple of things. One is all politics are local, and I know we use that term all of the time.

BOLDUAN: Because it's true.

PRESTON: Because it's true, OK. So, let's look at what happened last night here in New York. We saw Joe Crowley to your point paid very little attention to the race and it was totally caught flat-footed and then look at the environment we're in right now as Angela was saying.

We do have this incredible amount of energy that we're seeing from the progressive left that's driven by the anger and frustration with Donald Trump, but when I say all things are local, look what happened in South Carolina last night.

Henry McMaster won, OK? But he was forced into a runoff with a novice, somebody who just came out of nowhere, a Republican, and the reason for that was is because there's a lot of corruption in Colombia.

So, there is -- I wouldn't say there's a wave and there is a sentiment blowing across country and we're not just seeing it on the Democratic side. We're seeing it on the Republican side. BOLDUAN: Alice, we've seen the battle between mainstream and grassroots over the years on the right, of course. If we're seeing it on the left, what's your advice to them?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, clearly, there is an identity crisis within the Democratic Party and we saw that clearly in this race. We're talking about the heir-apparent to Nancy Pelosi is beaten by someone who has certainly much more progressive views.

But the key here and the takeaway is that the Democratic Party is moving towards the direction of a new generation, a new gender and a new race and that is the wave of the future with regard to how they will, in my view, succeed.

Look, they need to do exactly what Cortez said. She knocked on doors that have been ignored and she had a clearly defined message and she didn't take anything for granted and Crowley missed the debate, phoned it in and took it for granted.

She didn't do that. She made sure that every stone was turned over and every hand that she could shake was shook and that was important. But it's also important to have the good message and have the right candidate.

And make sure in my view that the reforms are key and attacking Trump voters and harassing them is not the way to go. Democrats need to give their voters something to vote for and not just anti-Trump. It's something to vote for.

BOLDUAN: Well, Angela, on the flip side of that, the president also isn't letting up on his attacks of Maxine Waters. I mean, he put out another tweet this morning saying congratulations to Maxine Waters whose crazy rants have made her together with Nancy Pelosi, the unhinged face of the Democratic Party.

Together, they will make America weak again. Do his attacks hurt Democrats in any way or do you think -- or do you say thank you, Mr. President, that's a get out the vote operation?

RYE: I don't think it helps or hurts. I think the people who typically vote progressive or Democratic are going to continue to do that, regardless of what Donald Trump tweets with all of his typos. It has no real lasting effect.

I think the reality of it is what does hurt is the more that people continue to lie or misrepresent what Congressman Waters said. She did not threaten harassment and she did not threaten harm, but Donald Trump did.

What does not help him and what will help her is when he said watch out, Max, those threats and those veiled threats and his clear demonstrations that he's threatened by women, by people who will hold him accountable and especially black women.

He's had a run with black women on Twitter. That is not going to help his cause and it will help ours and I think, Alice, on your last point about knocking on doors. Congresswoman Waters in her district in supporting members all over the country has always never taken the little guy and the little gal for granted.

She's always made sure that every voice is heard, and she represents the people's power and I think that the Democratic Party has a lot to learn from that as well.

STEWART: For the facts that are here, Congresswoman Waters did encourage people to go out -- but what's happening is there is a tone and civility in this country that have taken everything to the extreme and I'm not excusing him. He's just as guilty as she is.

RYE: It's not OK to create a false equivalency between Donald Trump's messaging and Congresswoman Maxine Waters' messaging. She is right to call for the impeachment of a president who is dishonest and morally corrupt, lacks compassion, who doesn't treat the people of this world as global citizens as they deserve to be treated.

Their tones are completely different. I resist his misrepresentation the mischaracterization that she's ever said and everything she's ever worked for. Look at her record compared to his, you'll see light years of difference. It's just not fair and it's not honest --