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Trump to Evangelicals: If Dems Win, They'll "Overturn Everything"; Trump: WH Counsel Don McGahn will be Leaving in Fall; Senator McCain will Lie in State at Arizona Capitol Today; Heat Wave Wreaks Havoc at U.S. Open. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired August 29, 2018 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: John Hoeven from North Dakota. Sir, good to have you with us today. Do you support Attorney General Jeff Sessions?
SEN. JOHN HOEVEN (R), NORTH DAKOTA: I do. I mean I think at this time it would be difficult to make a change. And so, he has a good rapport obviously with the Congress, with the Senate. We know him and so, yes, I do.
HILL: You know, Lindsey Graham in speaking yesterday about Senator Sessions and then what he thinks has changed, he did say if there were to be confirmation hearings for a new attorney general, he doesn't see that the Senate would confirm anybody who would not pledge to support Robert Mueller and to leave that investigation alone. Do you believe that the president would have the support, the president would support a nominee who would pledge that?
HOEVEN: I think with the Mueller investigation going on right now it would be a difficult time to change. You know down the line you can see how things go after the midterms, that kind of thing. And then it may be a different story. That's not uncommon in any administration to make changes in the cabinet as you go. We will see what the president wants to do. We'll see what Attorney General Sessions wants to do down the line. You know, but that would be after the midterm and I think that's what Lindsey Graham was referring to.
HILL: Are there any more rumblings that we should know about in the halls there in terms of where the attorney general stands and whether any other senators are wavering a little bit?
HOEVEN: No, I don't think so. I haven't heard any more than you just described. And you know, we need to focus on getting work done. That's what we need to be spending our time on.
HILL: A lot of Americans would like that, they would likely agree with you there. So, let's talk about some of the work -
HOEVEN: Exactly. Exactly.
HILL: Let's talk about some of the work here. You know we were just - we're talking about this meeting that President Trump had with Evangelical leaders earlier this week and in touting his accomplishments, he was warning the folks in the room there that obviously they need to show up, they need to vote. That all of this could go away. And he warned about violence. He used the word violent multiple times. The violence that could come if, in fact, Republicans were not victorious across the board come November. Is that the right message from the president?
HOEVEN: Well I think the message for both sides is you know you want to get your philosophy, your vision out there and appeal not only to your base but to independents. And you know in this country, there's always been differences. I mean, obviously the way we address those is through persuasion, through free speech and through the ballot box.
HILL: And so then back to what the president had to say, is that message persuasive? Is that appealing to Americans you think to warn of violence?
HOEVEN: I think he believes and we all believe in civil discourse in putting our vision forward. You know we're a nation of free speech, but also a nation of law and order. And I think the president very much believes in law and order. And so the people can express their opinions.
HILL: What is the best message to run on then --
HOEVEN: Your vision.
HILL: Your vision. Right. But this is a president who could easily, he was touting some of his accomplishments for the conservative Christians who were in the room there, but the president could easily talk about the economy, a robust economy - I mean just look at unemployment, it looks great, the president has delivered on a number of campaign promises. You know, if you were talking with the president, would that be a better message to run on, look at what we did?
HOEVEN: That's absolutely the message I would go to. I'd start right there because that's where the Americans feel it, right in their pocketbooks. So, when you talk about regulatory relief, when you talk about tax relief, when you talk about economy, more jobs, you know 3.9 percent unemployment rate, starts there, goes to strong support for our military. You know the things that we talked about just a minute ago, law and order so people feel safe at home and abroad. You bet. That's absolutely the message, not only for the president but for all Republicans.
HILL: We will see if the message changes. Shifting gears, we are getting a little tight on time and I want to make sure I get you on the record here. As we're looking at what happened this week, also in terms of trade talks with Mexico, Canada rushing down. I know this is really important in your state of North Dakota.
HILL: You talked about it. Where -- what are you hearing in terms of Canada coming to the table, what could that mean for your state? HOEVEN: Yes, thank you. This is something I work on very directly. I have been advocating the negotiations are going well with Mexico. Let's get a deal with them. That will put pressure on Canada to get into the negotiation, hopefully get to a deal. Time matters here. We want to get this trade agreements in place as soon as possible. That's a positive development. And I hope we can get Canada to agree as well.
HILL: We will be watching to see what happens there. Before we let you go, as you know, Senator Schumer among others have suggested renaming the Russell Office Building for Senator McCain. Do you support that?
HOEVEN: What we're going to do is the leaders already said we're going to set up a bipartisan working group that come up with the right type of memorial for Senator McCain. And I think that's a great idea. Let's get something that we can all agree on. And we'll see what that is. I don't know what that's going to be yet.
HILL: But can I get a yes or no, do you agree that that was a good option to perhaps rename The Russell Office Building in his honor?
[10:35:05] HOEVEN: We will look at a number of options. We definitely want to do something and will decide what the best option is. I'm not foreclosing any possibilities at this point.
HILL: OK. So, a non-answer right now. We'll see what comes out of that. Senator John Hoeven appreciate your time, Sir, thank you.
HOEVEN: Thank you.
HILL: We are following breaking news out of the White House. President Trump tweeting about the future of White House Counsel Don McGahn. We are live next.
[10:40:02] HILL: Breaking news. The president setting the record straight on a future of White House Counsel Don McGahn. Let's get straight to Athena Jones who is at the White House with the latest. OK. So, what do we know, Athena?
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Erica. Well the president is now confirming news that CNN previously reported that Don McGahn, White House counsel will be leaving in the fall. Let's read to you the tweet the president just posted a few minutes ago. It says, "White House Counsel Don McGahn will be leaving his position in the fall, shortly after the confirmation (hopefully) of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court. I have worked with Don for a long time and truly appreciate his service!"
So, the president and now confirming what we and others have reported. And of course, this news comes just a few weeks - just in the last couple of weeks, we've reported that McGahn had extensive series of interviews with Special Counsel Robert Mueller and did not provide Trump's lawyers with a full debriefing of what he discussed in those interviews. I can also tell you that McGahn serves as the Trump campaign top attorney. He was a long-time Republican campaign finance lawyer. And he served at one point on the Federal Election Commission.
He's also played an important role in confirming a series of concerted judges to the bench. This is something that Trump has hailed and that his supporters have hailed among his accomplishments in these first couple of years in office. So, this is important news, not entirely new news, now the president confirming what we have been reporting and what was reported earlier this morning. Erica?
HILL: And as we're looking at this, too, saying we would imagine for some consistency, perhaps, for that short period of time because as we are dealing with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.
JONES: That's right. He's hoping that -- McGahn can push through at least one more important nomination, this one to the Supreme Court. And then he'll take his leave. We should note that whoever ends up succeeding McGahn, that person could potentially be in charge of fielding you know a flood of requests and subpoenas and document requests should Democrats take control of the House in the fall. That next White House counsel going to have to deal with the investigations that Democrats have already said they wanted to launch.
HILL: Athena Jones with the latest for us on this news from the president, via Twitter. Athena, appreciate it. Thank you.
Family and friends set to pay tribute to John McCain today in his home state of Arizona. We'll take a closer look at his life and legacy when we are joined by a fellow P.O.W. just after the break. Stay with us.
[10:47:04] HILL: Breaking news, involving Paul Manafort. We are learning that Paul Manafort has asked once again to move his upcoming criminal trial to Roanoke, Virginia. This trial again set to begin next month in Washington, D.C. If this sounds familiar, it should. He had asked with his first trial in northern Virginia to Roanoke as well, citing in both cases similar reasons. He worries about the politicized media saturated environment of the Washington, D.C. area.
If you will recall, the judge in Virginia did not agree to move the trial, saying he didn't need to. The court was, of course, able find 12 jurors who said they could weigh the case about bias. The judge in Washington will be hearing this next criminal trial saying at a hearing on Tuesday he believes that the D.C. federal court could also find a fair jury even when dealing with such a high-profile case.
On what would have been his 82nd birthday, Senator John McCain will lie in state at the Arizona State Capitol today. A private ceremony will be held there for family and friends following the Capitol will open its doors to the public. So, they too can pay their respects. There will be another memorial service in Arizona tomorrow before his body is flown to Washington, where it will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol building.
Joining me now, a man who became great friends with John McCain as a fellow prisoner of war or since when he was a marine fighter pilot shot down in enemy territory, he too, enjoyed, brutal torture at the Hanoi Hilton just like John McCain. Mr. Swindle Thanks for taking your time to be with us today and to remember your dear friend.
ORSON SWINDLE, FORMER PRISONER OF WAR: Thank you very much.
HILL: When you -- we've heard so much both from Senator McCain, from others about the tapping that was used between prisoners. And you told a story, too, that when you finally met John McCain, he wasn't how you had imagined him after all of that tapping back and forth. What was different? What did you think he might be like?
SWINDLE: Well, I think we all suffered from the same problem. We often were tapping through the walls for months, if not years to someone we had never seen and I had been told a little of John and that he was a relatively short guy and his father was a short guy and I forgot his grandfather, when I met him, he looked just about the way I thought he would look.
HILL: This is a bond that you know we can all hear about and learn about. That obviously, it's something that no one can fully understand who didn't go through what you and Senator McCain and your fellow P.O.W. did. The two of you were among a group of I think maybe 25 P.O.W. were singled out at one point for being bad actors. You were moved at that point. And that really brought you two together, as I understand it?
SWINDLE: Right. We were in a group of a couple dozen guys who supposedly, allegedly by the Vietnamese were bad and we were under the command of a medal of honor recipient after we came home and we were no different, others we were in a group of a couple dozen guys who supposedly, allegedly by the Vietnamese were bad and we were under the command of a medal of honor recipient after we came home, cant remember what day. And we were no different, others were no different from us. They just showed a stick on us. But anyway, they moved us out of the main stream aspects of the prisoner environment and we were isolated and it's at that point where I started talking beyond voice communications. And then after two or three months of that they moved us all back into the main camp and John and I slept side-by-side for I think it was 18 months before we came home.
HILL: You two, obviously, stayed in close contact as I understand it for years ago you'd meet up in Washington at a Vietnamese restaurant.
SWINDLE: I'm sorry, say that again.
HILL: I understand that obviously you two remain close but for years, too, you would if Washington meet up at a Vietnamese restaurant, which may have caught some people ears, but we know Senator McCain was intent on moving forward for both these countries?
SWINDLE: Well, you know, he certainly was a part of the reconciliation of the renewal of relationship with Vietnam and I didn't have a problem with that in particular (INAUDIBLE). But when John and I would have the chance to get together often with other P.O.W. friends, which was an environment that he was not properly inclined or able be in very often, we would often gather at a restaurant over in Arlington. The family that owns it are very close to me and many of us. And we endured great fun, telling John's stories and having great Vietnamese food. It may be the best restaurant in Arlington.
HILL: We only have a short time left. But how would you like your dear friend, Senator John McCain, to be remembered?
SWINDLE: Well, I'd like him be remembered as he was. He was a great statesman. I think he was a great senator. I didn't always agree with him. And we had our arguments over the years, but that was just part of our relationship and strength of our friendship, we could disagree. And he was a great lawyer. He served incredibly honorably in Hanoi. And he was a fun and gregarious guy. We should remember him in that light.
HILL: Thank you for helping us to remember him today. Orson Swindle, thank you and thank you for your service, Sir.
[10:57:22] HILL: The heat in New York City reaping havoc at the U.S. Open. I can attest to that. Being at the night sessions last night, Andy, I don't think I have cooled off yet and I wasn't even playing.
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. You were a spectator and you're feeling the heat in the season. Imagine running around on a concrete court for three hours, I imagine pretty brutal. And three players actually had to retire yesterday due to the brutal temperature at flushing meadows. The heat index got all the way up to 107 out there on the court. This week's sports brought to you by Ford going further so you can. Because of the extreme temperatures, the United States Tennis Association releasing an extreme heat policy for the tournament. They receive a ten-minute break between the third and the fourth set. No coaching is permitted. The players are allowed to take bathroom breaks and showers to cool down. And Novak Djokovic and his opponent, well they both decided to take full advantage of their short break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NOVAK DJOKOVIC, TENNIS PLAYER: We had a two ice box. We were naked in the ice box it was quite wonderful feeling, you know, battling with the guys for two and a half hours, and then you get into the locker room and you haven't finished the match and you are naked in the ice bath. It was a quite a magnificent feeling I must say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: Sounds awesome on a hot day. Djokovic went on to win his opening match in four sets.
LeBron's new HBO show, the shot debuting last night shows meant to give fans a glimpse at LeBron off the basketball court as he engages his friends and peers in unfiltered and in an open way. In the first episode, LeBron shared why he decided to start speaking out on social issues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LEBRON JAMES, BASKETBALL PLAYER: I want the satisfaction, not for myself, but for everybody else. I was raised on you know Snoop and 2Pac and Jay and Biggie. And now I get an opportunity to be the inspiration around what all these kids are looking up to and for me to just sit back and not say (INAUDIBLE) when a lot of my peers didn't say (INAUDIBLE). They didn't feel right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: Minor League team, the Greensboro Grasshoppers thought he drew a walk and put his bat down to run the first but it was actually a strike. And once he put the bat down, check out Miss Lou Lou Gehrig, the bat dog, she when to retrieve it. I thought it was like I still need it. But look, Lou Lou is like this is my job. Went in for the second effort and Erica, poor Lou Lou had to go back to the dugout without the bat. But she sure did give a great effort to get that bat away.
HILL: I love Lou Lou.
SCHOLES: That's her job.
HILL: Lou Lou is amazing! She's also really stinking cute and she's good at her job, too.
SCHOLES: Everyone should have a bat dog. It would be --
HILL: I think you are right. You are right. Andy Scholes, good to see you my friend. Thank you.
Thanks all of you for joining us today. I'm Erica Hill in for Poppy Harlow. "At This Hour" starts right now.