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Intel Chief Assures Trump They Didn't Leak to Media; Trump Concedes Russia Interfered in U.S. Election; Trump: As President, I Have No Conflicts of Interest. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired January 12, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Does anyone really believe that story?
[05:58:38] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: James Clapper reassuring Donald Trump that leaked intelligence was not an inside job.
TRUMP: It's all fake news. It's phony stuff. It didn't happen.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISOR: I know CNN is feeling the heat today.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I think you guys are feeling the heat.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Is Vladimir Putin a war criminal?
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE: I would not use that term.
MANU RAJU, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Are you prepared to be the one Republican to vote no?
RUBIO: I'm prepared to do what's right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Obamacare bridge is collapsing, and we're sending in a rescue team.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: This is irresponsible. This is dangerous. This should be defeated.
TRUMP: Don and Eric are going to be running the company.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: What he is describing does not resolve the conflicts of interest.
TRUMP: If they do a bad job, I'll say, "You're fired."
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is your NEW DAY. It's Thursday, January 12, 6 a.m. here in New York. And up first, America's top intelligence chief reaching out to Donald
Trump, James Clapper trying to reassure the president-elect that the intelligence community did not leak an unsubstantiated dossier that caused a firestorm of controversy for Trump. Clipper [SIC] -- Clapper issuing a rare statement, saying he's profoundly dismayed by the leaks.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Meanwhile, the president-elect blasting journalists in his first press conference, though finally conceding that Russia was behind the election hacks.
All this as Senate Republicans make a step closer -- get a step closer to dismantling Obamacare.
We are eight days from inauguration day, so let's begin our coverage with CNN's Evan Perez. He is live in Washington.
What a day yesterday, Evan. Give us the latest.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.
The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, is trying to defuse a feud between the nation's next president and the U.S. intelligence community. Clapper says he called President-elect Donald Trump last night to assure him that the intelligence agencies were not the source of leaks about an opposition research dossier that contained unsubstantiated allegations against Mr. Trump.
Now, the two-page summary was appended to briefing documents for Mr. Trump last week, describing allegations by a former British intelligence operative that Russians claim to have compromising personal and financial information on Mr. Trump.
Clapper last night issued a statement explaining why the unverified information was included in briefing documents last Friday. Clapper says, quote, "Part of our obligation is to ensure that policymakers are provided with the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security."
The statement was the first on-the-record confirmation from a government official that Trump's briefing documents did include information on the opposition research. The nation's top intelligence official noted that the intelligence agencies did not produce the 35- page dossier that contained the underlying allegations. The FBI and intelligence agencies haven't verified the claims. As CNN first reported, the original documents were compiled as opposition research for Mr. Trump's Republican and Democratic political opponents -- Chris.
CAMEROTA: OK. Thank you very much, Evan. I'll take it.
President-elect Trump's transition team is responding to CNN's reporting that he received a two-page summary as part of his briefing papers last week. Trump's senior advisor, Kellyanne Conway, clashed with Anderson Cooper in this fiery exchange about it last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: What's inaccurate about what CNN reported?
CONWAY: Oh, my goodness, the whole headline. You -- go read the entire story. Four bylines and a story that's just not true that the president-elect was presented with this information, that it was appended in a two-page document to the briefing. NBC has said it was not. Other people have said it was not.
COOPER: NBC has said -- NBC has said it was not verbally presented, and CNN never said it was verbally presented. In fact, we said -- CNN, in their reporting, based on multiple sources, said, "We don't know if it was verbally presented."
You're saying, in that intelligence briefing, there was no information in any of the documents that -- of that two-page summary?
CONWAY: So two things in that. No. 1, we don't discuss the classified information that is presented in intelligence briefings.
COOPER: Well, you just said it wasn't true.
CONWAY: That's why they're closed door. Excuse me. But Anderson, if you just -- if you want me to talk, I know CNN is feeling the heat today.
COOPER: I think you guys are feeling the heat.
CONWAY: But I was gracious enough to come on and discuss it. We feel -- what heat do we feel that you've got this raw information, this complete ridiculous fake news?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: After months of casting doubts over the conclusions of the intelligence community, President-elect Donald Trump conceded for the first time in a press conference that he believes Russia was behind the U.S. election hacks. That wasn't the only headline coming out of the first press conference, obviously, since winning in November, by the way; he hasn't had one.
CNN's Jeff Zeleny live in Washington with more. To be completely accurate, yes, he said, "I think it was Russia." He said later in the press conference, "I think it was Russia, but it could have been someone else." That reluctance still there.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, that reluctance is there, but he did say for the first time that Russia carried out the cyberattacks in hopes of interfering with the election. But he did save his anger for the U.S. intelligence agencies and, of course, the media during that first press conference in six months that took a page right out of his combative campaign playbook.
ZELENY (voice-over): Donald Trump saying for the first time he accepts that Russia carried out the election cyberattacks during a rowdy and contentious press conference.
TRUMP: As far as hacking, I think it was Russia, but I think we also get hacked by other countries.
ZELENY: But spending much of the hour-long news conference blasting the media and deflecting reports that the nation's top intelligence leaders informed him and President Obama about possible incriminating information in the hands of the Russians.
TRUMP: I think it's a disgrace that information would be let out. It's all fake news. It's phony stuff. It didn't happen.
ZELENY: The president-elect singling out some media outlets that reported on the intel claims and taking aim at U.S. intelligence agencies as he pointed to the Kremlin's denial.
TRUMP: Well, you know, President Putin and Russia put out a statement today that this fake news was, indeed, fake news.
ZELENY: Trump did not say, however, whether any of his aides had been in touch with Russian officials during the presidential campaign, refusing to answer questions from CNN's Jim Acosta.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mr. President-elect, can you say categorically...
TRUMP: Go ahead. She's asking a question. Don't be rude.
ACOSTA: Mr. President-elect, can you say give us a question?
TRUMP: Don't be rude. I'm not going to give you a question.
ACOSTA You're attacking us. Can you give us a question?
TRUMP: I'm not going to give you a question.
ACOSTA: Can you state categorically...
TRUMP: You are fake news.
ACOSTA: Sir, can you...
ZELENY: The incoming White House press secretary threatening to throw Acosta out of future press conferences.
SEAN SPICER, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I informed him that I thought that nobody should be treated that way, and treated that disrespectfully. And that if he did it again in the future, I would have him removed.
ZELENY: Trump also not mentioning whether he will continue the sanctions imposed on Russia by President Obama.
TRUMP: If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability. Because we have a horrible relationship with Russia. ZELENY: All this as Trump had an attorney lay out his plans to distance himself from his business empire. Trump will relinquish control of the company to his two sons and place his assets in a trust, a step he says he doesn't have to take.
TRUMP: As a president, I could run the Trump Organization. Great, great company, and I could run the company. I'd do a very good job, but I don't want to do that.
ZELENY: Trump also pledging to stop any new overseas ventures and vowing to turn any profits from government officials staying at his hotels over to the U.S. treasury.
TRUMP: I hope at the end of eight years, I'll come back and I'll say, "You did a good job." Otherwise, if they do a bad job, I'll say, "You're fired."
ZELENY: Now, before Trump left that room, he did finally say that none of his campaign associates had been in touch with Russian officials during the election, but he would not say whether he would keep those punishing sanctions on Moscow, as many Republicans have called on him to do.
But his view on Russia and other matters are coming into sharper view again today, as confirmation hearings for his cabinet members continue on Capitol Hill -- Alisyn and Chris.
CAMEROTA: Jeff, thank you very much.
We have so much to discuss, so let's bring in our panel. We have CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez. We want to bring in also CNN political analyst David Gregory; and senior congressional correspondent for "The Washington Examiner" and host of the "Examining Politics" podcast, David Drucker. Great to have all of you.
I wouldn't blame viewers for being a little confused this morning about what exactly was reported and what is true. So let me just recap very quickly what CNN reported and what has been confirmed, and that is here are the two quick bullet points. There were classified documents that were presented to Mr. Trump last week, as well as President Obama, and they included the allegation that Russian operatives claimed to have compromising personal and financial information about him.
CNN has confirmed through rock-solid sources, many of them, that this synopsis was included in the documents that were presented to Mr. Trump. That was CNN's reporting.
I don't know where we are today. Because it's hard to know what Kellyanne Conway and what Donald Trump are denying happened.
CUOMO: Clapper just confirmed that also. Clapper just explained in a conversation with the president-elect, in a statement that they put out why they decided to include these documents. Therefore, our reporting must be accurate that they were included. And he also talked about his thought that he didn't think that the intelligence agencies leaked, and CNN never reported that they got their reporting from the intel agencies.
CAMEROTA: OK. And one more thing. They can't -- they don't know that the material in it is factual. Nor do we.
CUOMO: We never said that.
CAMEROTA: But they believe the source. They believe the source...
CUOMO: Is credible.
CAMEROTA: ... to be credible and so does CNN.
DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Right. So look, I think become some -- because one news organization chose to publish unsubstantiated allegations that went beyond the news of the briefing and what the briefing was about...
CAMEROTA: Not CNN. A different news organization.
DRUCKER: Correct. It's very clear here it enabled the president- elect to tar CNN's very good reporting, in my opinion, with the fake news moniker, and it allowed him to jumble it all together and deal with the issue that way instead of having to answer the actual question.
So here's -- here is what we know. What we know is that it's actually pretty standard for the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies to try and thwart foreign espionage.
So if any member of Congress, political leader, a president, a major decision maker, is being targeted by hostile countries, trying to be compromised, they're actually going to be told by intelligence agencies, "You're a target. Here's what they're trying to do."
DRUCKER: "Here's what they think they have about you." In interviewing Tom Cotton yesterday, and I spoke to him yesterday morning on Capitol Hill, he said it's actually very normal for the FBI to be involved here, because they're our domestic counterintelligence agency.
No. 2, what he told me is he doesn't actually think the intelligence agencies, the intelligence community leaked any of this. He thinks it came out of the West Wing. And I think -- and he serves on the Intelligence Committee in the Senate, and I think it's his way of trying to protect the intelligence community from attacks, including from Donald Trump, to keep them separate from a lot of the politics going on about this.
But look, the root of the poison fruit here and the reason this is an issue in any event is because Trump early on in the campaign and up until now has been very friendly toward Vladimir Putin in Russia. We never understood why it was a break from every other Republican and I don't think we would be looking at him the same way had that not been the case.
[06:10:08] For the first time yesterday, he finally admits that Russia doesn't have our best interests at heart, and I think if he thinks Putin liking him is an asset, I don't think he's right. He needs Putin's respect. People likes people that are amenable to Moscow's agenda.
CUOMO: So in an emerging narrative, what we're seeing, David Gregory, is not just that this story is about the actual story, the facts. This is about how the Trump incoming administration will react when it does not like a story, whether it's Sean Spicer or Kellyanne Conway. We're seeing what they do and the president-elect himself. They attack the media. He called this fake news. It is not fake news by any definition. He knows that to be a fact, because he was in the briefing.
Kellyanne Conway could not give a straight answer to me, could not give one to Anderson Cooper about why they're doing this, except to attack the media, and it works with his base.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it does. And look, these are difficult issues to report; and you've got to report them with caution and with fairness, and that's what CNN did.
Other news organizations didn't do it, like BuzzFeed, by linking two unverified claims that were the basis of this briefing. And our colleague Jake Tapper said it well. It hurts all of us when you do that. That is a problem the news media has, which is there are responsible actors, and there are irresponsible actors. And we're all kind of in the same sea of information.
But what you saw was an effort to intimidate Jim Acosta, to push around the White House press corps, and that's not going to work. They are deflecting on a real issue, and it's kind of ironic to me that this team, this incoming White House team is the stickler for what's fake news being led by an incoming president who was the man behind whether President Obama is a citizen of the United States and had to produce a birth certificate. Really? And now you're the ones who are the arbiters of what's fake news?
So this is a familiar game that other administrations have played, as well. Which is you should go out to the media. I think it's really offensive to people who care about a free press and a responsible press that you have a president-elect who compares this whole leaked story to Nazi Germany.
Maybe we could spend time with the White House going through what actually happened when Adolf Hitler took over in Nazi Germany before the genocide and the kinds of things they did to strip away individuals' freedoms, and then he'll see whether that was the way that maybe an uninformed casual remark. But I do think this is a sign of how they're going to deal with this kind of information and how they're going to try to deal with the press. I said on Twitter last night, I stand with Jim Acosta. White House press corps stands its ground, period, in the face of White House intimidation.
CAMEROTA: Evan, beyond these sources and methods for this information, what's the intel community and the FBI going to do about these allegations that President-elect Trump may -- Russian operatives may have some sort of compromising information.
PEREZ: Well, they're going to do their jobs. I mean, that's really what happened here. The intelligence agencies, the FBI, they thought that the president-elect deserved to know this stuff was out there, this stuff was being shared by members of Congress, by people in the media. Certainly, I started looking into some of this stuff last summer. And we all sort of ran into brick walls, as far as trying to figure it out.
And so they thought it was important for the president-elect to know, as a couple of our guests here have described. That's their jobs. And so the concern here is they still need to continue doing their job. The FBI is going to keep looking at this, because they need to get to the bottom of it. They haven't verified it. As we have reported, they have not verified any of these details. But it's important that they get to the bottom of it and that the president be aware of what's out there.
CUOMO: All right, fellows. Stick around. We want to talk about how the president-elect handled the conflicts that did exist between his business and his role as president. We'll do that, but we have breaking news right now, that Senate Republicans taking their first step toward repealing Obamacare but not before a fierce battle on the floor.
Democrats making a passionate plea to save President Obama's signature healthcare law. We've got CNN's Sunlen Serfaty, live from Capitol Hill with more and still no idea what the replacement is in sight.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right, Chris. Important to note there. You can call this the first tiny nail in the coffin for Obamacare. Put simply, the wheels are now in motion on all of this. The Senate overnight taking a very small but very important procedural step by approving a budget resolution that will become the vehicle for the dismantling of Obamacare. The session here only wrapped up a few hours ago, going into the wee hours of the morning, six hours of fiery speeches by Democrats, protesting the move by Republicans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Duly chosen and sworn, not having voted in the affirmative. The motion is not agreed to. The point of order is sustained, and the amendment falls.
[06:15:05] SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Thirty million Americans will lose their health care with many thousands dying as a result.
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Ninety-five percent of children in America now have affordable comprehensive health insurance. Why would we want to move backwards? SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: Imagine becoming pregnant and having your insurer drop your coverage because you no longer are economic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SERFATY: And this is likely to be taken up by the House on Friday which will pave the way for this to continue moving forward. But very notably, Republicans do not have one solid plan for replacement. They're considering a few options. But certainly, this week that he would like to see the repeal and the replace of this happen simultaneously -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, Sunlen. Thank you very much for that.
Well, the nation's top government ethics official blasting Mr. Trump's plan for resolving his business conflicts, what they want Mr. Trump to do. That's next on NEW DAY.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: My two sons, who are right here, Don and Eric, are going to be running the company. They are going to be running it in a very professional manner. They're not going to discuss it with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[06:20:11] CUOMO: Wholly inadequate. That's what the government's top ethics official calls President-elect Trump's plan to walk away from his business. He's calling on the president-elect to get closer to the standards his Trump keeps insisting he has no duty to do anything.
Let's discuss this with our panel. We've got David Drucker, David Gregory and CNN political analyst and national political reporter for "The New York Times," Alex Burns.
Alex, you're new to the panel, so let's go to you first. Let's start with what the president-elect laid out very clearly yesterday. He kept saying, "I have no duty. I have no responsibility to do anything. I could run my business and be president, and I would do a very, very good job."
The law does not explicitly put any responsibility on the president, but is that the end of the analysis?
ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, it's certainly not, and I think, based on the announcement that the president-elect made yesterday, we're likely to get, at some point, probably in the not- too-distant future some kind of determination from a court about whose analysis here is correct, there are restrictions in the Constitution about the kinds of revenue, the kinds of gifts that a president can receive.
CUOMO: Talk about the Emoluments Clause.
BURNS: The Emoluments Clause is what everybody is talking about. Beyond that, there are, you know, there's really a difference between about the legal obligations of the president and the ethical operations of the president. The kinds of activities, commercial and otherwise, that could expose the president or his administration or the appointees to investigations by Congress or by federal prosecutors and the general consensus among folks who look at this a lot closely than, really, any reporter, you know, lawyers, legal scholars, people who have served for both parties and senior ethics rules of the government say Trump is not protecting himself. He is not protecting -- he's not putting up the kind of wall that, really, a president would typically want to do for his own self-interest to make sure that his administration is coloring within the lines.
CAMEROTA: David Gregory, we've talked a lot about how complicated this is. He can't put it into a blind trust. That doesn't work. He's passing it to his sons. They are part of the family. It's probably not reasonable to think they'll never discuss any of this with Mr. Trump. What is the answer?
GREGORY: Well, I think the answer, according to more purists, is to completely divest himself from all of his holdings, and he didn't do that.
But I do think it's complicated, and I do think, to be fair, without the expertise to speak to this as a legal matter, as an ethical matter, I do think he's taken steps to make sure that there are no new foreign deals for the company whatsoever to try to avoid any foreign entity trying to curry favor with the family through the children to influence the father as president. So I think that's a positive step.
I think the independent monitor is a positive step who has, you know, an ethical view toward any new deals that are going on. So I do think, even for the outsider, he has taken positive steps. But it's clear that it doesn't go as far as he could in terms of liquidating everything he has. So he doesn't have the financial interests. He still carries a lot of financial interests even if he's not running the company.
CUOMO: Right. But look, it's impossible for him to get rid of it. By his own admission, he was trying to brag in the press conference yesterday. He said, "I got offered a $2 billion deal by these guys in Dubai. Great guys." And that proves the point. People will be looking to do something with his company in a way that they're hoping they're going to roll the dice and curry favor.
But he can't cure to people's satisfaction, and he says, "People knew I was a businessman when they hired me, so what's the right thing to do?"
DRUCKER: Now look, I mean, Donald Trump is right about that. and David Gregory just spoke to that. Here you have somebody whose name is the company and who really is the company. And voters knew that when they elected him. And so Donald Trump realizes that it's built into the price of admission with him. Nobody asked him to get rid of his company, to divest, as a condition for running for president and serving as president. and so I can sort of understand from his point of view not understanding what the uproar is. I think the problem is here down the line people are going to approach his family with business deals, and even the innocent business deals that they do, we're never going to know if they're designed to curry favor with the administration.
And I think, for the time being, Donald Trump being president is going to make his family money hand over fist. They're going to rush into his new hotel in D.C. just so they can tell Republicans all over town, "Meet me at the Trump hotel. You know, I'm staying at the Trump hotel." That's how politics works.
Let me tell you how ethics -- dealing with ethics issues works in Washington if you're not Donald Trump. A couple of years ago, Senator Tom Coburn, Republican from Oklahoma, an ob-gyn, wanted to keep delivering babies. And Senate ethics rules, obviously different than the White House, Senate ethics rules told Tom Coburn, "You can no longer practice medicine." And all he wanted to do on weekends when he was back home in Oklahoma was get in touch with his constituents and do real work that was not going to influence, as far as we can tell, all the different types of legislation that he was involved in. So that's how tough it is if you're a member of Congress. You can't even do your day job.
[06:25:13] And of course, voters complain, you know, "If you would just have a real job you'd be more in touch with us." So it's so much different to Trump. And if he runs into political trouble, people are going to point the finger and say, "You're making money off of us, and we don't like it."
GREGORY: I just think -- I think it's important to point out that I think Trump is right about this. The American people understood he's a businessman. Big brand. There's potential conflict there, and they were willing to overlook it.
But look, the public doesn't know what it doesn't know. And if there does come to pass an element of corruption, they're going to change their view on that. And I think that's the important distinction.
CAMEROTA: Very quickly, very quickly, Alex, he did also announce something that was very creative. And I think felt satisfying to many of his supporters. He announced that he will donate all profits from foreign government patronage of his hotels and similar businesses during his entire presidential term to the U.S. treasury. People are like, "Oh, we get to pay down, you know, the debt or the deficit with his profits." Like, people love that idea.
BURNS: Yes, although we'll need to see first what the verification mechanisms are for that, and second, he's not saying he's going to donate all the revenue. He's saying he's going to donate all the profit, right? So if they decide to expand facilities overseas and pay for it with, you know, the total revenue coming in from Trump wherever, that money doesn't go to the treasury, and it won't technically count as a new investment.
CAMEROTA: Details, Alex, details.
CUOMO: And all of them only as compelling as his willingness to be transparent which brings us back to the taxes and disclosure issue once again.
CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you.
CUOMO: The timing could not be better. Tonight, speaker of the house, Paul Ryan, takes part in a CNN town hall hosted by Jake Tapper. What is the future of Obamacare? And does he own the incoming president's tactics and positions? Join us tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern where you get to speak truth to power. Only on CNN.
CAMEROTA: So it was a tough day on Capitol Hill for secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson. Top Republicans asked a lot of questions about Russia as you can imagine, and some did not like his answers. Could Tillerson's nomination be in jeopardy? That's next.