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U.S. Defense Chief: Concerned About Safety of Sailors after Near Collision with Russian Ship; Trump Insults Veteran Vet Mueller & Pelosi on Sacred Ground; Deadline Today for Trump to Sign Off on Mexico Tariffs as Negotiations Continue; Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) Discusses Mexico & China tariffs, Pelosi Wanting Trump in Prison; Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield Discusses Joe Biden Reversing Long-Held Position on Federal Abortion Funding. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired June 7, 2019 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:00] JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: We're going to see a lot of hot fire at the DNC the last couple of days. We'll see if they make it. They might.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: They might. They might.

Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS. Hope to see you back. Get up early, 8:00 a.m. eastern. I'll be right here.

Don't go away, busy news day. Brianna Keilar starts right now. Have a great day.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: I'm Brianna Keilar, live from CNN's Washington headquarters.

Under way right now, the president's significant weapon, his signature. Will he use it to make good on his tariff threats despite all the warnings he's getting from his own party?

At sea, in the air, the confrontations growing between the U.S. and Russia, including a new near collision caught on camera.

Plus, the front-runner backtracks on a major abortion policy. We'll talk to a top aide to Joe Biden.

And the plot on Gotham. Why a man allegedly wanted to attack the crossroads of the world with explosives and grenades.

We start with two superpowers on what looks like a collision course to confrontation. Check out this extraordinary scene, captured by sailors aboard the "USS Chancellorsville."

The "Chancellorsville" is a guided-missile cruiser. It's part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. And just feet away there's a Russian destroyer, which Navy officials say made a dangerous high-speed turn to come right alongside the "Chancellorsville."

Our Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon.

Barbara, you do not see this very often. This is very dangerous. Tell us about this incident and the response from the Pentagon.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, a very dangerous incident by the Russians, according to the Pentagon.

Let's keep that video up.

You will see the Russian ship come so close that the Navy now estimates it came within 50 to 100 feet of their deck as U.S. sailors kept their cameras rolling to document this encounter. And it happened at a high speed. You can see the wake of the ship there. The U.S. captain forced to throw the ship into reverse at full speed to try and get away from the Russians.

Just a short time ago, the acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, spoke to reporters here at the Pentagon and made clear he will protest to Moscow.


PATRICK SHANAHAN, ACTING DEFENSE SECRETARY: (INAUDIBLE) -- There's a safety issue there, but that behavior is unsafe and not professional. We'll have military-to-military conversations with the Russians. And, of course, you know, to me safety is what's most important. It will not deter us to carry out our operations.


STARR: So the acting secretary making clear the U.S. will continue to sail and fly in international waters.

And this is a very critical point for the Pentagon to make because this is not the only incident. Just yesterday, Russian aircraft flying close and fast right in front of a U.S. Navy aircraft over the Mediterranean. Last month, U.S. Air Force fighters intercepting Russian bomber aircraft off the coast of Alaska. The Russians are pinging away at the U.S. military around the world.

The very deep concern here at the Pentagon, miscalculation, accident. There could be a disaster at sea or in the air if there were to be a collision. They want to make very certain that does not happen -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Barbara Starr, thank you so much for that report and those new details.

And here with me now is James Clapper. He's the former director of National Intelligence under President Obama.

And one of the questions here was, because initially the Russians were blaming the U.S. for this, it's key to note that the U.S. Navy was in the process of actually landing a chopper on the deck of this, which requires a straight course, which the Russian Navy would have known. In the end, the U.S. military, and we can see how they maneuver, in full reverse after waving off the chopper as the Russian ship comes alongside.

What does that tell you?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it tells me that this was very intentional, obviously, and it wasn't an inadvertent encounter on the part of Russians.

And as Barbara pointed out in her report, it comes on the heels of two other like incidents, one in the Mediterranean where they intercepted a Navy P-8 and one, I think, off the coast of Alaska.

I think this is -- you know, this is part of Russia's -- Putin's vision of great power.

And, you know, something that I think all these Communist countries have in common, China, Russia and North Korea, is that they -- that they crave attention and there are times when they are going to provoke things just for the sake of attention.

But there's -- there's no question about what they were doing here. Very unprofessional and very unsafe, as the acting secretary said. And the Russians, as you indicate, obviously know what the rules of the road are when our trying to land a helicopter on, relatively speaking, a postage stamp.

[13:05:04] KEILAR: You think that, at least in principle or in specifics, that this goes all the way up to the top in Russia? In terms of we see specifically what happened here, or do you think there's some directive coming from Vladimir Putin that says --

CLAPPER: Oh, yes, absolutely.

KEILAR: -- give them a hard time?

CLAPPER: Yes, exactly.

KEILAR: Specifically or generally, do you think?

CLAPPER: I think it's general. And I think it's left to local commanders to decide where and when and what the circumstances are.

I'd be interested to read what the rules of engagement are when they do these things because just, statistically, the more incidents like this that they provoke, you know, the greater the chance of some untoward incident and a real accident happening, which would, of course, really heighten tensions.

KEILAR: That's something very, very bad happening, right?

CLAPPER: Well --


KEILAR: I mean, we've seen what collisions, when it comes to these ships at full speed, happens.

CLAPPER: Either aircraft or -- or ships, either one. And that could be quite provocative and, not to mention, puts at risk people's lives on both sides.

KEILAR: We heard the acting defense secretary say that there's going to be military-to-military talks about this between the U.S. and the Russian military. Should it go higher than that? Should the president be addressing this?

CLAPPER: Well, I would think to start with, you know, I think probably the president, just based on past performance, is probably reluctant to do that and directly confront Putin about this. So I think, right now, best to do it at the minister level or perhaps in a military-to-military, at least for now.

KEILAR: I want to ask you about some of the unusual imagery that we saw, inappropriate imagery, many would say, that we saw around the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

You obviously have a military background so I want to get your perspective on this.

Before the events in Normandy, the president kept veterans, who are of considerably of advanced age, right, we're talking World War II veterans, waiting, along with other members of the audience, while he did an interview with FOX News there at Normandy.

And during an interview, as he was sitting there with the graves -- you can see this behind him -- he trashed Robert Mueller and complained about Nancy Pelosi.

What's your reaction to that?

CLAPPER: Well, having visited that same cemetery and knowing what it means to this country and to those buried there and to their families, their descendants, I thought it was reprehensible that he would do a FOX News interviewer, attacking Speaker Pelosi and Bob Mueller, ironically, someone who served in the military and Vietnam, was decorated with a Purple Heart for wounds and a Bronze Star.

And it's a shame because it really detracts from one of the best speeches that President Trump's ever given in his presidency. And he just kind of negated the impact of that by, I thought, irreverent and inappropriate backdrop of those markers, grave markers, to do, you know, this typical political stuff.

KEILAR: James Clapper, thank you so much, as always.

American importers are sending a warning to President Trump: If you impose tariffs on Mexico, prepare for a logistical nightmare. They say that companies are simply not ready to pay the fees yet and procedures for these payments are not in place.

In the meantime, in an effort to meet the president's immigration demands, Mexico has pledged to send 6,000 National Guard troops to its southern border with Guatemala, but the White House wants more.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House.

Kaitlan, President Trump is on his way back from Ireland right now. Will he sign off on those new tariffs on Mexico when he returns?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, we're essentially being told by the White House that they are planning on submitting that legal notification that would jump start this process to impose those tariffs on Monday, Brianna.

But we're told that as the talks are going on today with Mexican officials and U.S. officials and throughout the weekend, that if they go well, there's a chance the president could, quote, "turn it off."

Now right now, the White House says those talks have been positive but not gone far enough. And we're being told by a separate source with knowledge of the discussions that the talks last night did not end well. But, of course, they noted that those are changing on the hour.

So essentially things are still fluid right now. And the president is keeping everyone guessing on what he's going to do, because, as you can see, those are the things that essentially have been up for discussion as they have been meeting with the Mexican officials for the last several days, changing the asylum rules, deploying the Mexican National Guard to stop migrants from cross over the border. Those are things that are being discussed.

But, of course, the big question, Brianna, is going to be whether or not the president is going to agree to all of this. That's why you won't see anyone go forward enough to say, yes, these tariffs are happening or, no, they are not.

We know the president is flying back from Ireland right now. He's been kept updated, Sarah Sanders said, with Secretary of State Pompeo and all the other officials involved in this talk. And now the question moving forward is going to be, ultimately, what does he come down to.

[13:10:12] And we should also note that, as of this morning, Sarah Sanders said the president and the president of Mexico still have not talked as of Friday morning to discuss these, so we're waiting to see what it is he decides going forward.

But right now, what you're witnessing is they are leaving some space for the president to potentially back off these tariffs depending on how these talks go.

KEILAR: Kaitlan Collins, at the White House, thank you so much.

Tariffs from Mexico still on track there to kick in on Monday, and for China, new tariffs could be just two weeks away.

New York Republican Congressman Tom Reed joining us now.

Thanks for being with us, sir.

REP. TOM REED (R-NY): Good to be with you, Brianna.

KEILAR: Senator Rand Paul said on this program earlier this week that he thinks that there will be enough votes from Republicans to block these tariffs in the Senate. Do you think there are enough votes from Republicans to do that in the House?

REED: I don't see it in the Senate or in the House. I mean, you have to override a veto and I don't think that exercise is going to be fruitful.

I think the better course of access, to my colleagues and the Senate and the House, is let's vote on the underlying Canada and Mexico agreement.

And that's in July 9th is the becoming a critical date in my mind to keep an eye on. That's when we'll have a fundamental question being posed to the speaker of the House, will we vote on Mexico and Canada without interference from the speakers' office?

KEILAR: OK. The president, as you know -- I wonder what you think of this position that he's taking politically. So many Republicans disagree with it. He's actually getting really high marks when it comes to the economy. And there are many political observers who say this doesn't really make sense, that this will hurt the country economically and actually undercut that support that he's getting because of the economy. Do you think so?

REED: Well, I think, Brianna, nobody wins in these tariff escalation positions long term. But short term, obviously, he's using every tool in his toolbox to get the issue of immigration, to get to the issue of unfair trade practices, primarily with the Chinese negotiations. But the Mexico and Canada negotiations impact the Chinese negotiations significantly.

So at the end of the day, this is going to be a tool in the toolbox deployed. And hopefully --


KEILAR: So you -- so you support this --


REED: -- the trade agenda will be --

KEILAR: You support a tariff threat as a tool when it comes immigration?

REED: Well, I think -- when you talk immigration, you talk about unfair trade practices, you've got to deploy every piece of leverage that you possibly can against the country, and say your behavior has to change. And now what we're seeing is behavioral changes with Chinese at the table and --


KEILAR: People in your party would say --


KEILAR: -- this is economic ransom. REED: -- and I agree with that.

KEILAR: It's using Americans in a form of economic ransom as well.

REED: I disagree with that assessment. What is being deployed are trade tools to change behavior. And using the power of the economy, to me, is much better than military.

I mean, you just had a piece on the Russia situation, which is very situation -- and maybe we can talk about that a little bit. But, bottom line, you will have an economic tool in the toolbox as opposed to military is, I think, something most Americans would agree is appropriate.

KEILAR: Do you believe these tariffs that are scheduled to go into effect on Mexico would be paid for by the American consumer?

REED: I think, at the end of the day, Mexico and Canada as well as the U.S. are all going to be hit with these tariffs if they go into effect and that's --


KEILAR: But the U.S. --


REED: -- long term --


KEILAR: -- you said, will all be hit. So Americans will be hit by it?

REED: Well, obviously. If you're going to have increased tariffs, someone is going have to pay for them and, at the end of the day, that goes to the ultimate consumers in all the countries that are impacted. And that's why I think --

KEILAR: So why is it a good tool?

REED: -- we should resolve the underlying problems.

Go ahead, Brianna.

KEILAR: Why is shooting yourself in the foot a good tool?

REED: Well, it's not just shooting yourself in the foot. I wouldn't agree with that.

What it's deploying are the tools in the toolbox to say, look, the trade policy needs to be updated. We need to bring it into the 21st century. Thirty-year-old trade agreements, agreements that don't even exist with countries like China, they need to be brought to the table, black-and-white negotiations, and then we get to a fair level playing field, which we don't have right now. And tariffs are the tool that is primarily available to change that behavior of countries because no one wins on both sides of the equation in that situation.

KEILAR: But so then, it sounds like you're saying it's shooting everyone in the foot but it's OK because it's a means to an end.

REED: I would agree that that's an appropriate assessment, that what you're doing is disrupting the environment to bring better outcomes long term. That's exactly the path we're on, that I see, with the president's policy.

KEILAR: I want to ask you about a meeting that the speaker had with key Democratic chairmen whose committees are investigating the president. She reportedly said that she would rather see the president in prison than impeached. What was your reaction to that?

REED: You know, obviously, it's not -- it's not productive conversation when you're trying to put something together and legislate for the American people.

But, at the end of the day, I understand where the speaker is at. You've got an extreme left takeover of the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives, and she's got to give them something.

[13:15:06] So I saw that more as a symbolic type of gesture, by a speaker who is primarily focusing on partisan politics at this point in time within her own party.

KEILAR: Congressman, thank you so much for being with us. Congressman Tom Reed, from New York.

REED: Always great to be with you, Brianna.

KEILAR: Always great to have you, sir. Thank you.

Next, a top member of the Biden campaign will join me live to explain why the Democratic front-runner has reversed course on his long-held stance on federal abortion funding.

Plus, a gimmick or a game plan? One candidate tells me why she's moving to Iowa ahead of the caucuses.

And the man accused of plotting to attack Times Square with explosives and grenades. We'll hear how this takedown happened.


[13:20:39] KEILAR: Former Vice President Joe Biden does a surprising about-face on a hot-button issue in the presidential race. Biden now says that he wants to get rid of the Hyde Amendment, which blocks federal money from being used for abortions in, for instance, all cases, with an exception for the life of the mother as well as in the case of rape or incest.

He explained this change at an event last night. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Circumstances have changed. I have been working through the final details of my health care plan, like others in this race. And I have been struggling with the problems that Hyde now presents.

If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone's zip code.



KEILAR: Kay Bedingfield is deputy campaign manager and communications director for the Biden campaign.

And we certainly appreciate you coming in to talk to us.


KEILAR: So 24 hours ago, Biden was on the record, he was still supporting the Hyde Amendment. Walk us through the anatomy of this decision change. It is -- this is a big change of heart.

BEDINGFIELD: Well, look, this is not had a decision about politics for him. It's a decision about health care. You heard him say last night that "Roe" is under unprecedented assault in this country. We've seen Republican-led legislature, by the way, following the lead of --


KEILAR: OK, but when did this become an issue about health care for him and not an issue about religion or morality?

BEDINGFIELD: It is an issue about health care access. And you heard him say that last night that "Roe" is under unprecedented assault. You have Republican-led state legislatures at -- following Donald Trump's lead, by the way, who said, on the campaign trail, that women who had abortion should be punished, trying to cut off access, predominantly impacting minorities, and -- and women in underserved communities,.

And so the vice president feels like, in this moment of crisis on choice, that -- that he does not want to be foreclosing off any avenue for women receiving the health care that they need.

KEILAR: That's been the argument of people who support abortion rights for quite some time now.

We've seen a number of significant moves in many states. It's been going on for months, months before Joe Biden got into the race. So why -- why this change now? Because if you're trying to convince people that this isn't about

political expediency, which is part of Joe Biden's hallmark, or as he would hope it would be, then don't you have to explain substantively how he changes his mind from Wednesday to Thursday on an issue as significant as this, that crosses so many lines?

Health care, yes, for Democratic primary voters, but maybe for general election voters and a mass majority of them, it's also an issue of morality and religion.

So what is the substantive explanation for how he changed his mind?

BEDINGFIELD: Look, this was a tough personal decision for him. But the substantive explanation is that the moment that we're in now is a dramatically different one.


KEILAR: Did he --


KEILAR: How did he do it? Did someone give him evidence? What kind of evidence?


KEILAR: Did he speak to advocates? Did he speak to women? What was the impetus? What was the infliction point that changed his mind?

BEDINGFIELD: The other thing that's getting lost here is he's been an advocate for women's' choice his entire career. In the last 50 years, Democrats have successfully kept one Republican Supreme Court justice nominee off the court. That was Robert Bork. And who led that fight? That was Joe Biden. And that was a fight about choice. That was a fight about --


KEILAR: We're talking about the Hyde Amendment.

BEDINGFIELD: But to suggest to --


BEDINGFIELD: But I think to suggest -- I think to suggest that this is somehow out of step or out of sync with the way that he's viewed this issue is actually not true. I mean, this is an issue for him about --

KEILAR: But changing from Wednesday to Thursday. Explain how this happened. Because did he speak to an advocate?


KEILAR: Did he speak -- what was the thing that changed his mind? BEDINGFIELD: You've heard him say -- he said last night, he is

looking -- as he's thinking about his health care plan, which he'll roll out in the coming weeks and he's thinking about access and thinking about how we ensure that any moment when choice is under fire, when, you know, Republican-led state legislatures are coming after choice, how do we make sure that every woman who needs access to health care gets it?

That's going to be a piece of his plan when he rolls out his health care plan. And as he was working through that, he decided that, in this moment of crisis, that he could no longer be for something that would close off those avenues to women.

[13:25:12] KEILAR: All of those conditions that you just explained are as they were on Wednesday, when NBC News published their story saying that Joe Biden, according to his campaign, was -- still held this position, which he is now against the Hyde Amendment.

So what -- is there -- is there -- look, I was going to ask you this --


KEILAR: -- because he says in his book, "I've made life difficult for myself by putting intellectual consistency and personal principle above expediency."

So are we, in this moment -- what is -- what is the process?

BEDINGFIELD: You heard -- well, you heard him say it. I think -- you've asked the question a lot of ways and I've answer interested. I mean he - he --

KEILAR: I don't think you've answered it, Kate.

BEDINGFIELD: He has looked at the -- the -- frankly, the crisis that --


KEILAR: Who -- what was the thing that made him -- so he's looking at --


BEDINGFIELD: This is a personal decision.


KEILAR: So no one -- did anyone in the campaign talk to him?


KEILAR: Did they give him any evidence, did they show him the polls on where Democrats, likely voters in the primaries, stand?

BEDINGFIELD: This was a personal decision of his. It was a tough decision. It's one he wrestled with.

You note he's written in his career about his personal struggle on this issue. And this is -- and it's one that -- you know, he -- at the end of the day, he makes personal decisions for himself about where he's going to be.

And he looked at the -- the -- you know, like I said, he looked at the crisis that we're facing on choice in this country, and he made that decision. That's authentic to who he is. He's somebody who says what he believes. He's somebody who --


KEILAR: Then why doesn't he explain it more than he has?


KEILAR: He has not really -


KEILAR: He's not explained it --


KEILAR: This is a serious -- this is a serious issue.

He has not -- he has not complained his evolution, other than to say he's changed his mind.

BEDINGFIELD: He explained exactly why. He said because of the issues that we're facing now and as he's thinking about access to health care in his health care plan. He said both of those things last night.


BEDINGFIELD: And he's somebody who will always say what he -- what he thinks and what he believes. That's exactly what he did last night.

KEILAR: And he thinks that that's going to fly as he's interviewed here in the coming weeks for his interview as a sufficient answer for people who -- let's say, Democratic primary voters, who are now aligned with the position that he's in, but have questions about would he's truly authentic considering his past record when it comes to being more nuanced on the issues --


BEDINGFIELD: I don't think -- I don't think any voter has a question about Joe Biden's authenticity. I think they know him. They know who he is. They know his values. And they know, when he's facing a tough decision, when he's tackling a tough personal decision, he's going to speak candidly about how he's thinking about it. And that's exactly what he did last night.

KEILAR: OK. I want to ask you about another issue that the campaign has at this point in time, which has to do with plagiarism and the climate change plan. There's been at least -- well, there's been several instances at this point in time in the plan where passages were lifted from other sources without proper attribution. How did that happen?

BEDINGFIELD: Look, it was a staff-level error. It was not something that the vice president was aware of, I would say right, out of gate. And, secondly, it was as soon as it was brought to our attention, we immediately amended it and added the citations.

And I think, you know, it's a bold, significant plan for climate change, to tackle climate change. And -- and, you know, as soon as the issue was raised, we fixed it.

KEILAR: Was telling a reporter that he supported the Hyde Amendment still, for a story published on Wednesday, a staff-level error, or was that something that the former vice president himself is behind?

BEDINGFIELD: The vice president makes his decisions about where he stands on issues. Those are his decisions alone.

KEILAR: OK. So that was his answer to that question on Wednesday and then we -- there was a different answer last night.

BEDINGFIELD: He explained his position on this last night.

KEILAR: All right, Kate, thank you so much. Kate Bedingfield, with the Biden campaign. I really appreciate you being here.

BEDINGFIELD: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

KEILAR: A Utah man has been arrested for making more than 2,000 threatening phone calls to Congress.

And we're learning new details about an alleged foiled terror plot on New York City's Times Square.