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Sources: Trump May Limit Power Of National Intelligence Chief; Sean Hannity & Sarah Palin Side With Assange; Chicago Police Arrest 4 People Over Torture Video. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired January 5, 2017 - 07:30   ET



[07:32:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. So, sources tell CNN that President-elect Donald Trump is looking for ways to limit the power of the Director of National Intelligence and that he wants to overhaul the nation's top spy agency, the CIA. This, as he continues to publicly antagonize the entire intelligence community over the Russian hacking.

Let's discuss with CNN political analyst and "New York Times" editor Patrick Healy. And, senior congressional correspondent for the "Washington Examiner" and host of the podcast "Examining Politics" -- that I cannot get on -- David Drucker.


CUOMO: Let's start -- not the draw (ph), but him.



CUOMO: So, let's talk about the basic premise. Big government, bad. Small government, good. That is a bedrock Republican ideology. Is that what's going on here or does this seem more of a kind of thumbing of the chin to the intel agency by Trump -- a pushback move?

DRUCKER: No. I think -- well, this seems more like the thumbing of the chin to the intel communitybecause Republicans, while true, generally speaking, small government good, big government bad, the one area where they've always been in favor of bigger government or, let's just say, more robust government because they think the thing the government should do is protect U.S. national security, is have a robust intelligence capability, especially since the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks.

You know, as they always say, the terrorists only need to be right once. We need to be right all of the time. And we felt then that there were massive intelligence failures and so we've been trying to get it right with changes and more robust capabilities ever since.

And Ithink that's what makes this very interesting because we know, and in interviewing Devin Nunes, the House Intelligence Chairman, for this week's podcast, he told me one of the things he is most concerned about is sleeper ISIS cells in the United States. That's what keeps him up at night. We can't -- it's hard with technology for us to know everything and so we need those capabilities.

And so, if Donald Trump has a problem with effectiveness and capability, I think Republicans on the Hill -- I think the intel community would be very receptive to reforms and trying to make things better. One of the things that, supposedly, he wants to do is push more agents out into the field. But if this is about reducing capability, reducing personnel because he just feels it's too bloated without dealing with effectiveness, I think there's going to be a lot of pushback. I don't think Congress will sign onto that.

CAMEROTA: Well, he --


CAMEROTA: He seems to have some particular issue beef with the DNI --


CAMEROTA: -- the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, and that was created after 9/11 to streamline things better. So what's the issue there?

HEALY: The issue is that Donald Trump sees the intelligence community as in effect, if not intent, destabilizing his own incoming presidency right now. And he is going back to the intelligence community and saying -- and basically poking holes in ways that might resonate with Americans who remember intelligence failures over the years. Like David said, the intelligence community only needs to get it wrong once. And many times, many ways they get it right regularly or we don't know about it.

[07:35:00] But what he's doing -- and this goes entirely to President-elect Trump's brand of leadership. It's about making sort of very short-term calculations, going on the attack. Raising questions about the judgment, the accuracy, in this case, of the intelligence community, and frankly, sort of believing like that these relationships will sort themselves out. It's in his interest right now to create questions about whether the intelligence community is right on Russian hacking, and that's what he's doing.

CUOMO: But how you do things matters a lot. And to borrow that Italian expression again about thumbing the chin, he couldn't have done it in a more gross way towards the intelligence community than bringing up Julian Assange and putting his information on par with their own. And you're going to hear a lot of negativity about Julian Assange but it should all be accurate as well.

Yesterday on the show, one of our analysts incorrectly asserted that Julian Assange was a pedophile. He regrets saying it and there is no evidence to support that kind of assertion. Assange is currently wanted for extradition to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations. That is true, but I've never heard that the women were involved as minors. There is no proof of that so we regret that that was said on our air.

You hear a lot of people, David, getting on Assange because he did get quoted as saying I don't care that we're putting out the name of operatives inside the Taliban and Afghanistan who are helping out the U.S. Their informants, "f" them. And he got a lot of criticism at that time and for acts thereafter. Now, Trump is putting him on par with the U.S. intel.

DRUCKER: Yes, and this is really part of the problem because Donald Trump, as commander-in-chief, is going to need our U.S. intelligence capabilities abroad to perform and to do that we're going to need informants and we're going to need people helping us. And if they think they can't trust us -- if they think they're going to be exposed, it's going to make all of us less safe.

And so that's why I find it odd that he would elevate Assange because Assange has always worked to undermine U.S. national security. He doesn't care about the United States. He's made what is going to be Donald Trump's number one responsibility a lot harder and he's just a bad guy. And so you can question --

HEALY: But, President-elect Trump isn't kind of an arbiter of these things, and I remember interviewing him in October and he was so excited by what Julian Assange was putting out. There wasn't this sense -- and he doesn't bring this to a lot of his analysis of things. There wasn't a sense of well, we've always considered Julian Assange a bad guy and we're going to continue that because that's U.S. policy.

For him, the short-term political interest was that Julian Assange was leaking email -- was putting up hacked email from Hillary Clinton's campaign that was effective for him. And he was -- I remember in that interview and other conversations, you know, he was elevating the guy.

CUOMO: In 2010.

CAMEROTA: And it's the opposite of 2010 when he said that what WikiLeaks was doing was despicable and that Julian Assange should face the death penalty. So yes, he can turn his opinion sometimes on a dime. Thank you, guys, very much. Great to talk to both of you.

HEALY: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Donald Trump's growing feud with the U.S. intelligence community and his public support for Julian Assange is even fueling a divide within his own party. So what are some of even his own transition team advisers telling him? We'll discuss that next.


[07:41:40] CAMEROTA: President-elect Donald Trump siding with Julian Assange, seemingly backing the WikiLeaks founder's claim that Russia did not give Assange any leaked information from the DNC or Hillary Clinton's campaign. Mr. Trump's public support of Julian Assange and criticism of the intel community is now dividing his own party.

Here to discuss is senior editor of "The Atlantic", David Frum, and the editor of "The Weekly Standard", Bill Kristol. Gentlemen, great to see you.


CAMEROTA: Bill Kristol, let me start with you. This metamorphosis in the minds of some people about Julian Assange -- let me just put up how people have done a 180 on him. Sarah Palin who, in 2008, called him an anti-American operative with blood on his hands -- about Julian Assange -- because he had hacked into -- or he had released hacked emails from her -- yesterday, says this to Julian Assange.

"I apologize. Please watch Sean Hannity's interview with Julian Assange. This important information finally opened people's eyes to Democrat candidates and operatives who would not have been exposed were it not for Julian Assange."What's happening here, Bill?

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: You know, my colleague Jonathan Last, wrote a great piece about nine, 10 months ago when Trump was winning the Republican nomination. Trump isn't corrupt. And his point was it was a reason people could support Trump if they want. Certainly, once he was the nominee, lots of Republicans supported him and voted for him. He won the election.

But the intellectual rationalizers and justifiers for Trump didn't just say look, he's got some unfortunate aspects but we take him on the whole, he'll be a better president, Supreme Court justices, et cetera, et cetera. They somehow felt the need -- some of them -- to sort of defend every foolish and irresponsible thing he says and does.

It is unbelievably foolish and irresponsible for a President-elect of the United States to cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence community. If he wants to go in and privately take a look and shake it up, fine. But think what signal is he sending to the world when he says I have no confidence in U.S. intelligence? Is that an appropriate thing for someone who's about to become president to say publicly? And then to praise Julian Assange who correctly has been attacked, not just be conservatives but by the Obama administration as an -- himself, as anti-American.

So -- and his -- they are publishing stolen property, obviously, in the case of the emails, and very damaging property that's caused deaths of Americans and American friends. So it's terrible that some people Ithink, honestly, are -- they've become Trump apologists and they've forgotten about the country's well-being.

CAMEROTA: David, how do you see it?

FRUM: Julian Assange published the hacked emails, but it was Russian espionage services who did the hacking in the first place. Assange is merely a conduit for Russian intelligence products, but those intelligence products would not have been powerful in this election. Look, what was in the WikiLeaks hacks from John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee and the DCCC, they were -- they were boring -- nothing.

The only reason they seemed powerful is because Russian intelligence found a willing collaborator in Donald Trump who insisted that these things reveal a vast network of corruption and criminality, which was false, but he insisted on it. And, of course, in our polarized politics, when the leader of one party insists that something is true, 40 percent of the country will believe that leader and follow him, so it had an impact.

[07:45:00] Why does Trump now denigrate the U.S. -- the U.S. intelligence? Because U.S. intelligence has the information that shows what Trump did. His problem is not I'm weighing, I'm meditating. Do I think Julian Assange is more reliable than the CIA? Donald Trump knows better than anybody where that information came from and who used it, and why.

CAMEROTA: But, what do you mean?

FRUM: He knows it better than anybody.

CAMEROTA: I don't understand. But, David, hold on. Hold on a second. What do you mean he knows better than anybody where that information came from? He's not --

FRUM: He knows --

CAMEROTA: He hasn't met yet with the intel chiefs.

FRUM: Why --

CAMEROTA: How does he know better?

FRUM: That's -- why doesn't he meet with the intel chiefs?

CAMEROTA: I don't know. Why doesn't he?

FRUM: Because he knows what they will tell him. Look, if -- Donald Trump -- we have a situation. If Donald Trump is essentially -- when you listen to him talk and he says -- when he's growing these clouds of confusion, he's not talking like a president trying to get the truth. He's talking like a defendant who knows that the evidence points to him.

CAMEROTA: Wait. What evidence points to him?

FRUM: The evidence that he -- that Russians hacked material across the American political spectrum as they did, by the way, in the British election in the summer of 20 -- last summer, as they are now doing in Germany. They tried to --

CAMEROTA: Right, but --

FRUM: They tried to subvert an American election and Donald Trump took information that the Russians found -- stole, that Julian Assange published and that he publicized. He was the one who publicized it. He was the one who falsely said that these emails show something important when they didn't. He knew what he was doing and he did it, and the CIA has the evidence of how -- where the information came from so, of course, he doesn't want to hear it.

CAMEROTA: Bill, do you see it in that same way?

KRISTOL: I mean, who knows what's in Trump's mind. He could be -- he's partly being a defendant. He's partly being irresponsible. He's partly going for some very short-term gain,I suppose, he thinks is expressing resentments. Here's what I think is interesting, though, and you all were talking about this earlier, too. What do Republicans do? Find their conservative pundits who just sold out. I mean, frankly, were just apologists for Trump at this point and I think they have been pretty disgracefully. I hope maybe they know better, maybe they just -- they talked themselves into this.

What about actual members of Congress who were serious people who were on the Intelligence Committee, who were on the Foreign Relations Committee who have had access to this material for years? I've seen some of them already have been critical of Trump. They all want to bend over backwards a little a first to give a Republican -- an incoming Republican president the benefit of the doubt.

What happens to the confirmation hearings that Mike Pompeo from the CIA and for Jim Mattis at Defense? I now those two gentlemen. I haven't talked to them about this at all. I haven't been in touch with either of them in the last month or so, but these are serious people. Pompeo was on the Intelligence Committee. Jim Mattis, commander of CENTCOM.


KRISTOL: I bet they know a lot of Julian Assange -- have strong feelings about him and they're not what Donald Trump is saying.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Bill Kristol, David Frum, thank you very much --

KRISTOL: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: -- for your perspective. Great to talk to both of you.

KRISTOL: Thanks.

CUOMO: All right. So you've seen this video. It's going viral online. A mentally disabled teen tortured by four black kids. Why did this happen? We're talking to two former law enforcement officers about how this should be treated as a crime and what it means in the larger political discussion, and what it does not -- next.


[07:51:45] CAMEROTA: This is a sickening story that has gone viral. Chicago police arresting four teenagers for torturing a mentally disabled teenager. This attack was streamed live on Facebook. CNN's Ryan Young is live in Chicago with more. What have you learned, Ryan?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is just a tough story to talk about. In fact, at one point, they stuck the young man's head in a toilet and made him drink the water. This video is very disturbing and what you're going to see is something that police are still investigating. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at him, tied up.

YOUNG: This disturbing 30-minute video streamed live on Facebook shows a man tied up, his mouth covered, crouched in the corner of a room.

EDDIE JOHNSON, SUPERINTENDENT, CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT: It's sickening, it's sickening. You know, it makes you wonder what would make individuals treat somebody like that.

YOUNG: Chicago police describing the victim as an 18-year-old white male with special needs. His attackers are seen laughing as they kick, punch, and cut his forehead with a knife.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump. F*** white people, boy. F*** white people, boy.

YOUNG: Four people now in custody, all African-Americans, two males and two females. Police say the victim was targeted because he has a mental health challenge but they are investigating whether the attack was racially motivated.

KEVIN DUFFIN, COMMANDER, CHICAGO PD, AREA NORTH DETECTIVE DIVISION: They're young adults and they make stupid decisions. That certainly will be part of whether or not a hate crime is -- we seek a hate crime to determine whether or not this is sincere or just stupid ranting and raving.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He represents Trump.

YOUNG: At this point, the superintendent is rejecting any connection to President-elect Donald Trump but the investigation is ongoing.

JOHNSON: Some of it is just stupidity, you know. People just ranting about something that they think might make a headline. I know that he has mentioned Chicago but I can't connect that with what these folks did.

YOUNG: Police say the victim was taken from the suburbs and could have been missing from anywhere between 24 and 48 hours. Officers found the victim wandering the streets in crisis Tuesday afternoon and brought him to a hospital.

DUFFIN: He's traumatized by the incident. It took most of the night for him to calm down enough to be able to talk to us.


CUOMO: Just horrible but it must be discussed. Alt-right media are blaming this torture attack on Black Lives Matter. In fact, the hashtag #blmkidnapping is the top trending topic on Twitter right now. Let's discuss what this is about. We've got former Chicago police officer, president and founder of SevenStar Consulting, Dimitri Roberts. And, CNN law enforcement analyst and retired NYPD detective Harry Houck.

Everybody should agree on one thing, Harry. It's a crime and these guys did the biggest favor they could to law enforcement by putting this live on Facebook. Why?

HARRY HOUCK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Exactly. You know, I've had cases like this before where we dealt with people that are mentally insufficient. The fact is that these cases are very hard to prosecute because, you know, you have an incidence here where even the Chicago police officers had stopped him. It took them several hours for them to calm him down to be able to get a statement out from him, all right?

So the fact that we have video and we have somebody to go back on the video to find one of the perpetrators is tremendous in a case like this. You're going to see prosecutors who will be very hard to put a young man like this on the stand in a case like this because he can be easily manipulated by a defense attorney.

[07:55:05] So the fact that we have all this evidence that we've tracked down, the location where it happened, the clothes the perpetrators were wearing, the clothes that he was wearing, we're going to link all this together in this one case.

CUOMO: I don't even know how I feel about them blurring the faces. I know why they do that when minors are involved --

HOUCK: Right.

CUOMO: -- but in this case you'd think they'd want help catching them. Dimitri, how do you think that this crime should be seen by people who watch the video?

DIMITRI ROBERTS, PRESIDENT & FOUNDER, SEVENSTAR CONSULTING: I think it should be looked at by -- in the way that it is. This is hate. This has -- and hate doesn't have a color. So, for folks that talk about this is somehow connected to Black Lives Matter is absolutely the wrong way to look at this. Hate is hate. Hate doesn't have a color and we cannot respond to hate with hate. It's just going to perpetuate the cycle.

What I think we can do in this situation is say that these are individuals that acted alone, and if we look at it that way, now we can really focus on rectifying the problem. The problem is cultural ignorance. These folks are ignorant and it was flat-out stupid, just like the superintendent said. So, let us not also be ignorant in our response to this. Let's say what is the solution here? And I think the solution is one, understanding where this cultural divide is happening. Folks wants to be Facebook stars, for the lack of better terms, but that's not the right answer either.

This doesn't have anything to do with Donald Trump. This just has to do with these young people thinking that this is the right way to get their message out.

CUOMO: But -- ROBERTS: And as we know, Chris, this is not the right way to do anything.

CUOMO: Well, there's no question about that, but you got black kids beating up a white kid and they talk about Donald Trump. And the next thing you know, Harry, you got Black Lives Matter, you know, in the trending Twitter topic because people start seeing it in that context. What's your take?

HOUCK: Well, I -- you know, I think Black Lives Matter does have something to do with what's going on in this country today. You know, it's a contributing factor. It's not the specific reason why this is going on. And I -- and I agree with Dimitri, you know. These kids just sit there and laugh over what they were doing here.

This is definitely -- when I look at it right now is that if we were -- I don't think that this is a -- any way connected to Trump, all right? I think it's a bias crime. I think they committed this act against this young man because he was mentally insufficient and the fact that he was white, all right? But as far as, you know, what Dimitri said, you know, regarding Black Lives Matter being part of this, I think there's definitely some indication, you know, with this narrative that's going on out there that might make some black individuals attacks whites, you know. And so, I --

ROBERTS: Here's the -- here's the -- here's the deal.

HOUCK: Not only that but --

ROBERTS: Let me --

HOUCK: Let me just say one more thing, all right? The fact is that if we're looking at four white guys doing this to a black insufficient -- mentally insufficient young man, we'd be having riots on the street now and Black Lives Matter would be taking advantage of that narrative and so would other people who are actually part of that narrative.

CUOMO: Dimitri?

ROBERTS: We have a real opportunity here. Let's not be further divided around these issues. This has nothing to do with a hashtag. Folks always feel like they need to be on side of this issue or the other. Nobody -- we don't even need to bring Black Lives Matter into this. This is a hate crime. Hate doesn't have a color and culture doesn't have a color.

So really, let's address why this happened. This happened because there was some ignorance and there was some -- there was some folks that want to sensationalize their message and become Facebook stars, all right? So let's not start promoting hashtags or be on one side of this issue when you have a real opportunity to unify behind this.

And what I'll further say to the viewers is let's not respond to hate with further hate. Let's not be divided. Let's respond to hate with peace, and that's how we can further address these issues, not just in Chicago but nationally, Chris. HOUCK: Yes, but Dimitri, don't you think at least part of that Black Lives Matter narrative could somehow be part of what happened? I mean, we see it happening to the police officers -- white police officers being attack. We're seeing it with -- every time a police officer shoots an unarmed perpetrator and it turns out that the officer was correct in actually shooting that perpetrator, don't you think that -- I'm not blaming Black Lives Matter for all the problems but I think that they are partially connected to this in some way as a result of that narrative.

ROBERTS: But it's up to us, Chris, to change that narrative. That's why we're here. We're sitting on the national spotlight right now talking about this issue and it is up to us to change that narrative. So yes, it could be connected but it doesn't have to be, and that's my message today. Let's not make this connected to something that it's not. These are young folks who committed an act of hate against another individual, regardless of their skin tone and regardless of who they are or what background they come from.

Listen, I come from the same places that these folks come from, right? The southwest side of Chicago. This is not a reflection of what good African-Americans -- young African-Americans are doing on the south and west side and what folks like Black Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter are doing to bring peace.