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Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) Live On New Day; Pressure Builds On House Democrats To Begin Impeachment Inquiry; Court To Decide Whether Abortion Services End In Missouri. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired May 30, 2019 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:30:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- to bring a judgment of impeachment against this president.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it's a fair inference from what we heard in that press conference that Bob Mueller was essentially referring impeachment to the United States Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right.
Joining us now is 2020 presidential candidate, John Hickenlooper. Governor, great to have you here.
JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks for having me.
CAMEROTA: You had previously pumped the breaks on impeachment. How do you feel today?
HICKENLOOPER: Well, after listening to Mueller, and I wanted to hear what he had to say, I think of myself as an extreme moderate. But I think he laid the responsibility clearly at the doorstep of Congress.
I think we have to begin an impeachment inquiry and that doesn't mean we're going to impeach President Trump tomorrow or maybe ever, but I think we do have an obligation to follow where the facts lead and we have to recognize that -- I mean, I'm not naive. Mitch McConnell is never going to impeach President Trump.
We've got to keep our eye on the prize and recognize we've got to beat Trump at the ballot box. But at the same time, we've got to get the real facts of what did happen.
CAMEROTA: Well, I'm sorry, what changed for you after you read -- between reading the Mueller report and hearing him yesterday?
HICKENLOOPER: Well, hearing him actually say that if there were a way he could say there was no criminal activity he would have done that -- actually hearing him say that rather than just in the report. But also, he was very direct that this is the responsibility of
Congress. This is their constitutional role. And the way he laid it out there was pretty direct.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I was interested by the way you framed your decision here. You're saying you're running as a moderate -- an extreme moderate. Was that the phrase you used there?
And that is the group of Democrats that may be the ones to pressure Nancy Pelosi here in the House. It's the sum of 40 or Democrats who won in Republican-held districts right now. Really, very few, if none, have come forward in saying it's time to impeach or hold the impeachment proceedings.
Do you think that your movement will convince any of them?
HICKENLOOPER: Well, I don't know about. But I think that the -- you know, having an impeachment inquiry where you do get the weight of the inquiry behind the subpoena, so you really get the real facts -- I think that's critically important at this point. And I look at that as separate from the actual impeachment proceedings, right, where you're actually trying to generate articles of impeachment and taking the president to trial.
BERMAN: The first step -- the first step is to hold an impeachment inquiry and --
HICKENLOOPER: Well, that's an inquiry.
BERMAN: -- and then, the Judiciary Committee would vote on articles of impeachment. But, formally launching an inquiry is an impeachment proceeding.
HICKENLOOPER: Right, exactly. I mean, we're getting into the --
HICKENLOOPER: -- into the --
BERMAN: But you're saying yes. You're saying yes, now's the time.
HICKENLOOPER: Yes. I think that we need to get the facts and just asking to bring forth the evidence, I don't see it as that -- I mean, I think it would be crazy not to do it, to be quite honest. We have to go out and try and get the facts.
CAMEROTA: Do you worry it could hurt Democrats in 2020?
HICKENLOOPER: Well, again, we should go into it clear-eyed and recognize that Mitch McConnell is not going to -- you know, he's not going to impeach President Trump. We've got to beat Trump at the ballot box and be laser-focused on that.
CAMEROTA: But that's what I mean. Will voters be annoyed that Democrats are spending time on impeachment? HICKENLOOPER: I don't think so. I think voters -- most of the people I've talked to in Colorado and Iowa or New Hampshire, they want the facts. Let's find out what really happened.
I mean, it's one thing to say that the Trump campaign actually communicated with a hostile power. I mean, to me, that's breathtaking that we just accept that -- that that's fine. Let's see what else is there.
BERMAN: And again, you don't -- as running as a moderate, you don't see this as a leftist position?
HICKENLOOPER: No. I think trying to get facts is within America -- as a country, it's within America's responsibility.
CAMEROTA: OK. So, as an extreme moderate, let's ask you about some of your positions.
I want to ask you about abortion rights because this is one where it's hard to be a moderate. People have such passionate and extreme feelings.
So, given what you've seen happening in Indiana, in Alabama, in Ohio -- I could go on -- where -- what would be your solution?
HICKENLOOPER: Well, this constant -- it seems like a constant assault on women's reproductive rights in many states. It is outrageous, it's horrific.
In Colorado, we've taken a different direction. What we've done is we expanded women's access to all their medical opportunities -- their access -- sorry. And what we've done is we provided long-acting reversible contraception, like IUDs or Norplants to young women who ask for it.
And we've reduced teenage pregnancy by 54 percent, we've reduced teenage abortion by 64 percent, and we've saved $70 million of Colorado taxpayers' money.
CAMEROTA: Wow. I mean, those are really striking numbers. It is confusing, some states that want to outlaw abortion, and get rid of birth control, and restrict access to birth control. That is confusing.
HICKENLOOPER: If you are -- if -- these people are so adamant that they want to fight abortion by closing down family planning and denying young women the opportunity to have control of their own bodies, right. To be able to decide when they want to start a family. And that's one of the basic tenets of freedom if you ask me.
[07:35:06] And in the end, they're creating more abortions and more unwanted pregnancies. It just doesn't make any sense.
BERMAN: Let's talk a little presidential primary process now at this point. The first two presidential debates are coming up in June and July and we just learned there is a third in September where they're going to raise the bar for entry. It's two percent in the polls there.
As of now, you won't qualify for the third debate. I know it's -- we're not there yet --
BERMAN: -- but do you think that's fair to have that higher cut-off?
HICKENLOOPER: Well, I don't think it's -- I'm not worried about it. I feel very comfortable I'll be on that stage.
I feel like I'm running -- you know, I'm running for president because are in a crisis of division that Trump is fueling.
And in a funny way, I feel like I'm the one person that has actually done what everyone else is talking about, all right. I brought people together. We've got near-universal health care coverage. We addressed methane, which is one of the worst climate pollutants there is. And we've beat the NRA with some tough new gun laws.
I mean, I've -- as an entrepreneur, as a governor, I've been able to bring people together and do the big progressive things that people said couldn't be done.
And in a funny way, I think it's time to really look at the fundamental nonsense of government that we see in Washington and begin replacing it with some common sense.
BERMAN: Again, though, is that a fair cut-off, do you think -- raising the bar for the third debate?
HICKENLOOPER: Well, again, I'm not going to worry about -- they've made their decision --
HICKENLOOPER: -- and my job is to make sure I'm on that stage, which again, I have every -- we have our own lane where the -- I'm one of the only people out there that's actually brought people together and gotten big progressive things done that other people said couldn't be done.
CAMEROTA: Governor John Hickenlooper, thanks so much. We always appreciate having you in-studio.
HICKENLOOPER: Oh, thank you.
BERMAN: Thanks for coming in.
So, we're expecting to see President Trump very shortly. He will depart the White House.
Will he speak publicly? He's already written some statements this morning in direct contradiction to what Robert Mueller said. Will he say it out loud when he leaves the White House? We're watching, next.
[07:41:07] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL: The opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing. It would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge.
So, that was Justice Department policy and those were the principles under which we operated. And from them, we concluded that we would not reach a determination one way or the other about whether the president committed a crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: All right. That was special counsel Robert Mueller explaining that if he could have exonerated President Trump of any crime, he would have.
What's next and does history teach us anything about this moment?
Joining us now is Dan Abrams, "ABC NEWS" chief legal affairs and anchor, and the author of the new book, "Theodore Roosevelt for the Defense: A Courtroom Battle to Save His Legacy." Dan, great to have you here.
DAN ABRAMS, CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS ANCHOR, ABC NEWS, AUTHOR, "THEODORE ROOSEVELT FOR THE DEFENSE: A COURTROOM BATTLE TO SAVE HIS LEGACY": Good morning, guys.
CAMEROTA: Congrats on hitting the bestseller list.
ABRAMS: Thank you, thank you.
CAMEROTA: Very exciting.
ABRAMS: It's exciting, yes.
CAMEROTA: All right, so before we get to the book --
CAMEROTA: -- what did you hear Robert Mueller say yesterday that changed anything?
ABRAMS: Well, I heard him repeat things that are in the Mueller report, right? Nothing that he said was new.
But the point is it's what he chose to highlight that's important here. He picked certain areas which he clearly felt had not been properly understood. What did he speak, for eight minutes or something, and he's focusing on issues that you hear and I've talked about a number of times.
Most importantly, the introduction section two of the Mueller report, which he -- which he basically almost read verbatim, which is saying here's the reason why there was no finding on obstruction and that is at odds with what William Barr has said.
But I think he also wanted to emphasize how serious the Russian interference was. And remember, he also pointed out again that Hillary Clinton was the target. And those are things that are in the indictments, they're in the Mueller report.
But for Robert Mueller, in his limited eight minutes, to have chosen those issues and the fact that it's Congress, not the criminal justice system, who can hold the president accountable, I think is very telling.
BERMAN: It's so interesting that you just said that. I feel like a magician right now. Let me open the envelope because President Trump just wrote a statement --
BERMAN: -- which you contradicted, along with Robert Mueller.
Let me read you what the president just wrote in two tweets. We don't normally read his tweets but these are pertinent.
"Russia, Russia, Russia! That's all you heard to the beginning of this witch hunt hoax. And now, Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. It was a crime that didn't exist.
So now, the Dems and their partner, the fake news media, say he fought back against this phony crime that didn't exist, this horrendous false acquisition (sic), and he shouldn't fight back. He should just sight back and take it.
Could this be obstruction? No. Mueller didn't find obstruction either. President harassment!"
That last part -- "Mueller didn't find obstruction either."
ABRAMS: Well, he didn't -- he didn't pronounce that there was obstruction, right? I mean, that's true.
But if you actually listen to Robert Mueller and you read the Mueller report, it is clear that the Mueller team believes, at the very least, that there are two or three instances where obstruction is on the table, let's say, in some way, shape or form.
But to suggest that people aren't talking about Russia -- if you were to say to Robert Mueller what's the single reason you held that press conference, my guess would be he'd say to focus on Russia.
CAMEROTA: He led with it.
BERMAN: And he closed with it.
ABRAMS: Yes. CAMEROTA: Yes.
ABRAMS: So, I think that that's critical.
CAMEROTA: Is Congress going to call Robert Mueller to testify?
ABRAMS: Yes. I think that they'll -- I think that they'll ask him. It's odd to me why Congressman Nadler seems so wishy-washy on this. I would think they're going to call him.
They're not going to get what they want out of him, right? I mean, he's going to answer in a very limited, controlled way. And I think there's going to be a lot of frustration, and I think Mueller knows that.
[07:45:04] And so, his concern is I get up there. I've got the Democrats yelling at me because I'm not talking enough. I've got the Republicans yelling at me because I talk too much.
And he's just going to be in the middle of this and I think he doesn't want to be in that position. But you know what? A lot of people get called who don't want to be in that position.
BERMAN: And very quickly, last question before we get to your book --
BERMAN: -- which I find fascinating, you have said that it's unprecedented to use the impeachment process as an investigatory tool, basically.
BERMAN: Exclusively, without wanting to remove the president.
BERMAN: What do you mean by that?
ABRAMS: Well, I mean that we're talking about this possibility of an impeachment inquiry here. I don't know exactly what the means, meaning Congress has oversight. They're using that, they're subpoenaing witnesses. Officially calling it an impeachment inquiry gives them a little bit of a stronger legal argument in certain ways.
But in the previous impeachments that we've had, there hasn't been, effectively, a grand jury impeachment, meaning we're going to use this to gather more information. It's been a proceeding to say we believe that the president ought to be impeached. And now, it seems like we're talking about kind of this middle ground where it would be an inquiry somewhere about a legislative oversight, but somewhere under an impeachment proceeding.
CAMEROTA: Because they don't want to use the impeachment word.
ABRAMS: Correct, yes. CAMEROTA: The other "i" word.
ABRAMS: No, that's right. They don't want to use the big "i" word. This will be like the little "i" with a dot on it.
BERMAN: So, your book is about Theodore Roosevelt and it's just fascinating case after he left the White House, but where he was called to testify for days on end in a liable proceeding. Just explain the highlights of this case.
ABRAMS: Can you imagine a former President of the United States, one as iconic as Theodore Roosevelt, testifying for eight days? We got the transcript of this -- over 3,000 pages from 1915.
Roosevelt was sued for liable. He had called the head of the Republican Party corrupt --
BERMAN: Imagine that.
ABRAMS: -- and the guy sued him for liable.
And he then goes into court and it becomes this case where he has to really defend Theodore Roosevelt, not just this liable case because it turns into an attack on Theodore Roosevelt, the former president; Theodore Roosevelt, the person. And, Roosevelt took his honesty and his integrity very seriously.
But, typically, when we see in history, we read speeches, we see books. But this is Theodore Roosevelt going back and forth with a lawyer who wants to embarrass him on cross-examination. And we've got every word from the transcript of this back-and-forth.
Franklin Roosevelt ends up testifying --
ABRAMS: -- in his defense.
So, it's this fascinating case that somehow became forgotten to history. And we've taken the transcript and told the story in a case that was on the front pages everywhere for six weeks around the country. And this is leading up to World War I.
So, there's a lot of intersection with that as well because there's a lot of people who want to know what Roosevelt thinks about things that are happening in the world. And yet, there are three German-Americans who are on the jury, and there's a concern about alienating them because at that time, German-Americans aligned -- a lot of them -- with the Germans.
So, there's all sorts of fascinating things in this case. And as we read this and we read through this transcript, the end of the trial -- without giving it away -- is -- you get to the end and the verdict is not a verdict, meaning you eventually do get a verdict. But when you first think there's a verdict, there's a problem.
CAMEROTA: Oh, that sounds familiar.
ABRAM: Yes, yes, yes, yes.
BERMAN: There is a cliffhanger.
ABRAM: And it's just --
BERMAN: There's a cliffhanger.
ABRAM: It's amazing that that happened at the end of this trial. So, it was a really fun book to work on and to bring to life.
BERMAN: It gets fascinating. They testified for eight days. Granted, he was the former president.
But, President Trump's lawyers didn't want him to answer questions behind closed doors because they were afraid he'd caught lying.
ABRAMS: Well -- and look, and we could also have a situation where President Trump -- and he's being sued in civil cases. He could end up having to testify as a former or current president. And so, there are definitely comparisons in this book to today.
CAMEROTA: All right. The book, again, is "Theodore Roosevelt for the Defense: A Courtroom Battle to Save His Legacy." It's a fascinating read.
BERMAN: It really is.
CAMEROTA: Dan Abrams, thanks so much for being here.
ABRAMS: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
BERMAN: Great to see you.
CAMEROTA: Great to see you.
BERMAN: All right.
We expect to hear from President Trump any moment as he leaves the White House. We'll bring that to you live, next. We'll bring a tape of it, next.
[07:53:05] BERMAN: If there was one thing we learned from Robert Mueller's public comments yesterday, it's just how different he sees things than Attorney General William Barr. Differences in his role and the law.
John Avlon has a reality check -- sir.
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey, guys.
So, I think this is what happens when the last honest man in Washington confronts a blizzard of lies. With Robert Mueller's first and, perhaps, final comments as special counsel, we learned a lot about his puzzling punt on obstruction.
We now know that President Trump was never in danger of being indicted, not because he was cleared of wrongdoing but because Mueller felt he was constitutionally constrained by the office of legal counsel's guidance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL: Under longstanding department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Charging the president with a crime was, therefore, not an option we could consider.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AVLON: But there's a screaming contrast between what Attorney General Bill Barr and what Robert Mueller clearly meant because according to a CNN analysis, Barr stated no less than six times that the OLC opinion had little role in the ultimate decision.
For example, he told CNN's Laura Jarrett this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We specifically asked him about the OLC opinion and whether or not he was taking a position that he would have found a crime, but for the existence of the OLC opinion. And he made it very clear several times that that was not his position.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AVLON: That appears to be fundamentally false because Mueller actually said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MUELLER: If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AVLON: In other words, Trump was explicitly not exonerated. And it certainly sounds like if he was anyone other than the president, he would have been indicted.
Mueller was also constrained by a virtue that's vanishingly rare in Washington politics -- a sense of fairness.
[07:55:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MUELLER: It would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge.
(END VIDEO CLIP) AVLON: So, despite all the president's repeated attacks on the special counsel investigation being a witch hunt and worse, as well as the ongoing push to investigate the investigators for treason, we now see that Donald Trump may have had his bacon saved by Robert Mueller's commitment to decency and the rule of law -- the opposite of a witch hunt.
Now, Trump's lawyers, of course, wasted no time trying to spin Mueller's words, with Jay Sekulow stating, "The attorney general conclusively determined that there was no obstruction by the president."
That's explicitly not what Mueller concluded. Instead, it certainly seems that he believes impeachment is the only appropriate way to hold a president to account. But that remedy from the founding fathers now runs into the reality of a polarized Congress that seems unable an unwilling to think beyond partisan interests.
Mueller's parting message, though, was not about obstruction but about the massive efforts by Russia to meddle in our elections with the aim of benefitting Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MUELLER: There were multiple systematic efforts to interfere in our election and that allegation deserves the attention of every American.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AVLON: So, bottom line, the Mueller investigation is over. It did not exonerate the president. Attorney General Barr did misrepresent the report's conclusions and constraints.
And the Russians will continue to try to influence our elections because they did so to help the president the last time around, despite his denials. And there is every indication they'll try to do it again.
And that's your reality check.
CAMEROTA: Thank you very much, John.
All right. Louisiana lawmakers have passed sweeping new restrictions on abortion, banning the procedure as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected, which often happens as early as six weeks.
Meanwhile, health officials in Missouri are within a day of closing the state's last remaining abortion clinic.
CNN's Alexandra Field is live in St. Louis with more. Give us an update, Alexandra.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, good morning.
Louisiana's Democratic governor is saying that he will sign that heartbeat bill. Here in Missouri, the Republican governor, last week, signed a bill that would ban abortion at eight weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest. He says that Missouri has the opportunity to become one of the strongest pro-life states in the nation.
Now, Missouri might have another designation. By tomorrow, it could be the only state in the nation that offers no access to abortion for women at all in more than 40 years.
That's because there is just one abortion clinic operating in the state. Its license to operate expires on Friday. The health department hasn't renewed it. The governor says that's because of violations in an ongoing investigation, the details of which he wouldn't make clear.
But, Planned Parenthood, which operates the clinic here in St. Louis, says they have fully cooperated with the investigation and moreover, they have complied with even the medically-arbitrary regulations that the state continues to put on abortion clinics, which is why they say there is just one clinic left in Missouri.
They now say in a lawsuit that there is a war on abortion in the state of Missouri and they essentially say that the state is weaponizing the regulatory process to restrict abortion out of existence.
Missouri is one of six states with just one abortion clinic. But by tomorrow, Alisyn, it could be the only state with no clinics at all.
CAMEROTA: Alexandra, thank you.
BERMAN: All right.
President Trump about to depart the White House. How will he respond to Robert Mueller? He's written some things very recently that are fascinating -- the first time he's ever admitted to getting help from Russia to win the election.
NEW DAY continues right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MUELLER: Under longstanding department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the report speaks for itself, why'd you have to do a press conference?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Many constituents want to impeach the president, but we want to do what is right and what gets results.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a three-ring circus and Nancy Pelosi is the ringmaster.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Mueller will testify, he will be compelled to testify, and he will be accountable to the American people. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first things I thought of was war zone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More severe weather from the Plains to the East Coast.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The river is going to increase over the next few days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could hear glass breaking and everything blowing around, and I was just hoping we were going to make it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been watching this thing for three or four days and just every day, it gets higher and higher and higher.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Thursday, May 30th, 8:00 in the East.
And, special counsel Robert Mueller has spoken. We heard his voice. Robert Mueller said that President -- well, I should first say President Trump is not happy about it. According to John Berman, he is tweeting up a storm right now, so we'll get to that.
The president is about to leave the White House to head to Colorado and he is sending out a serious of fact-challenged tweets criticizing Robert Mueller's investigation. President Trump claims that Mueller would have brought charges against him if he thought he'd committed a crime.
But, Mueller said, explicitly, the opposite, yesterday. Mueller did not even consider charging President Trump because of Justice Department guidelines. Mueller said that.