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Trump Team Disputes Claims of Dossier; Interview with Senator Ron Johnson; Interview with Congressman Adam Schiff of California. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired January 12, 2017 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT-ELECT: It's all fake news. It's phony stuff. It didn't happen.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I know CNN is feeling the heat today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you guys are feeling the heat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vladimir Putin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would not use that term.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you prepared to be the one Republican to vote no?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm prepared to do right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Obamacare bridge is collapsing and we're sending in a rescue team.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is irresponsible. This is dangerous. This should be defeated.
TRUMP: Don and Eric are going to be running the company.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What he is describing does not resolve the conflict of interest.
TRUMP: If they do a bad job I'll say you're fired.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Up first, America's top intel reaching out to Donald Trump president- elect. James Clapper trying to reassure the president-elect that the intel did not leak an unsubstantiated dossier that sparked a firestorm of controversy for Trump. Clapper issuing a rare statement saying he is profoundly dismayed by leaks.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The president-elect blasting journalists at his first press conference, though Mr. Trump did finally concede that Russia was behind election hacks. All this as Senate Republicans move a step closer to dismantling Obamacare. So we are just eight days from inauguration day. We have it all covered four. Let's begin our coverage with CNN Evan Perez live in Washington. What's the latest, Evan?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. The director of national intelligence James Clapper is trying to diffuse a feud between the nation's next president and 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 containing unsubstantiated allegations against Mr. Trump.
A two page summary appended to briefing documents for Mr. Trump last week described allegations by a former intelligence operative that Russians claim to have compromising personal and financial information on Mr. Trump. Clapper issued a statement last night explaining why the unverified information was included in briefing documents last Friday. Clapper says, quote, "Part of our obligation is to ensure policymakers are provided with the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security."
The statement was the first was 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 the intelligent agencies did not produce the 35-page dossier containing the underlying allegations. The FBI and intelligence agencies haven't verified those claims. And as CNN first reported, the original documents were compiled as opposition research for Mr. Trump's Republican and Democratic political opponents. Alisyn?
CAMEROTA: OK, Evan, thank you very much. After months of casting doubt over U.S. intel conclusions about Russia, Mr. Trump finally concedes that Russia hacked the U.S. election, the DNC computers at least. It was one of many headlines emerging from the president- elect's first press conference since the election. CNN's Jeff Zeleny is live in Washington with more. Hi, Jeff.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. Donald Trump did say for the first time that Russia carried out the cyber-attacks in hopes of interfering with the election, even as he wavered it by saying we get hacked by other countries. But he saved his anger for U.S. intelligence agencies and of course media during his first press conference in six months.
ZELENY: Donald Trump saying for the first time he accepts that Russia carried out the election cyber-attacks during a rowdy and contentious press conference.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT-ELECT: 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: 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 the Russian officials during the presidential campaign, refusing to answer questions from CNN's Jim Acosta.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mr. President-elect, can you give us a question. You're attacking us. Can you give us a question?
TRUMP: I'm not going give you a question. You are fake news.
ZELENY: The incoming White House press secretary threatening to throw Acosta out of future press conferences.
SEAN SPICER, INCOMING PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SECRETARY: I informed him that I thought no one should be treated that way and treated that disrespectfully, and that if he did it again in the future I would have him removed.
[08:05:00] 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 foreign 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 say, oh, you did a good job. Otherwise if they do a bad job I'll say you're fired.
ZELENY: Before Trump left that room he did finally say 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. His view on Russia and other matters coming in to sharper view again today as confirmation hearings for his cabinet members continue on Capitol Hill. Chris?
CUOMO: Jeff, thanks. There's other big business going on Capitol Hill. Senate Republicans passing a budget resolution that includes the repeal of Obamacare. This is just one step in a long process, but the Democrats were already making a stand with many passionate pleas to save the health care law. CNN's Sunlen Serfaty live on Capitol Hill with details. Sunlen?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Chris. This is this first tiny nail in the coffin for Obamacare. Put simply, this basically starts the wheels in motion on all of this moving towards the repeal of the president's signature piece of legislation. The Senate overnight taking a very small but very significant procedural move by approving this budget resolution which would become the blueprint, the vehicle for the dismantling of Obamacare. We heard really fiery speeches overnight that lasted into the wee hours of this morning from Democrats protesting this move by Republicans.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VERMONT: Up to 30 million Americans will lose their health care with many thousands dying as a result.
SEN. SHERROD BROWN, (D) OHIO: And 95 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 have your insurer drop your coverage because you are no longer are economic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SERFATY: And this will very likely be taken up by the House on Friday which will pave the way for this to continue moving forward. But very importantly the Republicans have not settled on just one replacement plan. There are many competing plans out there. But certainly the president-elect ratcheting up the pressure on Republicans to put something together. He said just yesterday he wants the repeal and the replace to happen almost simultaneously. Alisyn?
CAMEROTA: OK, we're going to talk about that now, Sunlen. Thank you very much.
Earlier this week we spoke to Republican Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin about the Obamacare repeal, and he said he wanted to see a game plan for replacement before he voted to eliminate the Affordable Care Act. Overnight Senator Johnson voted in favor of repeal. He joins us now from Washington. Good morning, Senator.
SEN. RON JOHNSON, (R) WISCONSIN: Good morning, Alisyn, how are you doing?
CAMEROTA: I'm doing well. So why did you take this first step towards repeal without a replacement plan?
JOHNSON: It is only the first step. All this does is really give direction to a couple of committees to start working on the process of being able to repeal it so we can replace it with reforms that actually work better.
I've been saying for quite some time our first step really needs to start repairing the damage. So this is the first step. But then what we need to do is concentrate on the elements, start repairing the damage done. It's been a real mess. In Wisconsin individuals on the individual market are paying double and triple what they were. That's not affordable care. Even when people have insurance they can't even use it because the deductibles are so high.
So Obamacare has been a miserable failure. It's collapsing of its own weight. From my standpoint, it's the responsible thing to do to start repairing the damage and then working on a transition to a system that actually works. This is just the first step in that transition.
CAMEROTA: So exactly what is the replacement plan that you would favor?
JOHNSON: Well, again, I will freely admit that Republicans in the House and Senate don't have total agreement on exactly what that thing is going to be, but the elements are pretty common. Free market reforms, patient centered, turning more and more of the decisions of insurance back to individuals and back to the states in terms of regulatory environment. All the essentially health benefits, all these reforms that have caused premiums to double and triple, those are things that need to be replaced with things that work, free market based reforms.
CAMEROTA: Look, since do you have those four things that you say are vital and are pretty simple, why don't you have a replacement plan yet?
JOHNSON: Because I don't think you're going to see one massage plan like Obamacare. You're going to see step by step approach targeting the individual damage of the individual reforms, and we'll put in replacements for each individual one of those problems.
But anyway, that would be my approach. Other people have different ideas. But my approach would be kind of a step by step process. First thing is end the national definition of health care. Those have driven up care. Turn that definition back over to states. Allow individuals to purchase across state lines because you can have more competition that way. But again, devolve more power to the states. I think most Americans view the states as more competent doing this certainly as they've seen the destruction and really the well miserable failure of Obamacare.
CAMEROTA: You call it miserable failure. Obviously it had the highest sign ups in its history. There are 30 million people who rely on it. There are people who are currently enjoying its benefits who do not believe it has failed them.
JOHNSON: And taxpayers are paying a pretty high price for subsidizing care for people. But remember, Alisyn, the main promises made, if you like your health care plan you can keep it. Millions lost affordable care. Premiums will be declining by about $2,500 per family. It is true premiums have doubled and tripled on the individual market. So the Patient Protection Affordable Care Plan did not live up to its name. It is collapsing. Insurance carriers are leaving the market because it's just not a sustainable model.
CAMEROTA: I want to talk to you about Rex Tillerson's nomination hearing -- confirmation hearing yesterday. Were you satisfied with the answers that Mr. Tillerson gave to your fellow lawmakers?
JOHNSON: I think Mr. Tillerson did a really good job. This is not an easy task for him. He wasn't thinking about becoming secretary of state even two months ago. And he stepped in that position. Democrats were talking about how remarkable it was he didn't have a note. He didn't even take notes during the hearing. This is all off the top of his head. He had an awful lot of things to say. He proved himself to be highly intelligent, very knowledgeable about a host of issues, and also I think pretty deft at handling showboating on parts of other members, pressing him for answers that I wouldn't want the secretary of state to answer.
CAMEROTA: Let me play you one short moment, because this was his answer to whether or not he had ever lobbied Congress or the White House for sanctions to be lifted on Russia, and he gave an answer that today fact checkers say was false. So listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE: I have never lobbied against sanctions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The company you directed did.
TILLERSON: To my knowledge, Exxon never directly lobbied against sanctions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: OK. So senator, according to congressional records, public records, Exxon repeatedly talked to lawmakers and the White House about their feelings on sanctions.
JOHNSON: My understanding his answer, they lobbied to make sure sanctions were fair across the board, that U.S. companies were not disadvantaged to other companies. And so you can start quibbling with the details. I think the main takeaway is he has background and experience in the private sector. Like former Senator Sam Nunn said, his relationship with Putin, those things are an asset. And from my standpoint, his answers to, you know, saying that NATO is incredibly important, Article Five is inviolable, certainly from the standpoint of what happened in Crimea, his actions would have been to show some real strength and resolve so Putin wouldn't move further into eastern Ukraine. So again, across the board I think he handled himself very well.
CAMEROTA: Why do you think he hasn't spoken to president-elect Trump about Russia or Putin?
JOHNSON: You have to really drill down the specific question asked of him, and I'm not exactly sure what he was answering there. I'm sure they had some discussion about Russia. But on that particular issue that was being discussed at that time, there's a real possibility. This is an enormous task trying to set up an administration. I have been incredibly impressed with president-elect Trump's energy level and activity level trying to fill an administration. Here in the Senate obviously we're grappling with how do you hold the hearings, how do you get all the information so we can make sure the next administration has the national security and homeland security team in place on day one?
CAMEROTA: Senator, if they never had a conversation, if what he said was actually on its face true and they never had a conversation, would you be comfortable with that?
JOHNSON: I'm not exactly sure what president-elect Trump was looking for when he was interviewing his secretary of state. I'll leave that between those two individuals.
CAMEROTA: Senator Ron Johnson, thanks so much for being on NEW DAY.
JOHNSON: Have a good day.
CAMEROTA: You, too. Let's get over to Chris.
CUOMO: The nation's intel chief reached out to Donald Trump to say the intel community did not leak this dossier about the president-elect to the media.
[08:15:07] Trump has a different take of what was said. What do Democrats think? That's next.
CUOMO: The director of national intelligence James Clapper calling President-elect Donald Trump last night. He denied intel leaks to the media. This morning, Trump tweeted saying Clapper called him to denounce the, quote, "false and fictitious report."
Now, this matters. Clapper did not use those words in his statement, which reads, "We also discussed the private security company document which was widely circulated in recent months among the media, members of Congress and congressional staff, even before the IC became aware of it. I emphasize this document is not a U.S. intelligence community product. That I do not believe the leaks came from within the IC. The IC has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable." That does not say that they found it unreliable.
And he says, "And we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions. However, part of our obligation is to make sure policymakers are provided with the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security."
Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, ranking member of the Houes Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, thank you for joining us.
The question is pretty basic but vital at this point. What do you know about whether or not it is true that the FBI and maybe other intel agencies are looking into the allegations provided in this dossier because they found the source of the dossier credible?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Chris, I can't comment on that. But I can say this with reference to the conversation you just had about director's statement, as well as the president-elect's tweets. And that is sadly you simply cannot rely on the president-elect's tweets or statements about what he's receiving in intelligence briefings and that's a real problem.
[08:20:00] And by that I mean the open report on the Russian hacking was very clear. It made no conclusions about whether the outcomes were affected by the hacking. That was beyond the scope of what the intelligence community looks at and nonetheless that was misrepresented by the president-elect.
SCHIFF: So, here people really want to know what Director Clapper had to say to Donald Trump, do not rely on Donald Trump's tweet. Rely on Director Clapper's statement.
CUOMO: Well, look, I hear you about not wanting to divulge classified information. And I'm not sure if this is, or isn't, but look this was bouncing ago round some of this stuff. We know John McCain thought to give to it Comey. Comey said he already or somebody for Comey said they already had these documents. Harry Reid sent a letter to him saying I know you're looking into these things.
You know, James Comey even took the unprecedented step of coming out to discuss the investigation because of his perceived notion of its impact on politics. This situation is starting to move in that direction, where the president-elect is giving one version of events that do not meet up with our reporting and the reckoning of it seems the director of national intelligence.
Are you sure you can't confirm these allegations are being looked into?
SCHIFF: I can't comment on that. But I think you're absolutely right that Director Comey when he testified and Angus King asked him the question during the Senate hearing he said he couldn't comment on any investigation that may be open or not open. That cannot be squared with his conduct during the whole investigation of the Hillary Clinton emails. And that's a very tough question that the director has to answer why he might be treating this differently than he did the Clinton e-mail situation.
But I'm not privileged to be able to comment on what the community or FBI is investigating or not investigating.
CUOMO: All right. So, this relationship between the president-elect and the intel community, Clapper, you know, obviously the president can put his own people in charge of these intel communities, agencies. What is your concern going forward?
SCHIFF: Well, my concern is that the president-elect continues to want to either deny the scope of what the Russians did in this election or ignore intelligence when it comes to him that indicates that Putin is not doing what Putin is telling him or that the Russians are taking action in violation of what promises may have been made to the president-elect, if he doesn't want to hear that information, there are ways that he can direct the intelligence community essentially to stop devoting resources to pursuing those leads.
We're going to have to work very hard in the intelligence community on a bipartisan basis to make sure that we continue to invest in intelligence in Russia. They are one of the principal threats now facing the country. I think that's recognized by both sides of the aisle. So, we're going to have to do that.
One other point I want make while I can't comment on what the intelligence community, FBI may or may not investigate, I can tell you what I think Congress ought to investigate and I think in the most nonpartisan way and ideally through an independent commission, along with a joint congressional investigation, we ought to follow the evidence of what the Russians did across all of the platforms of cyber malevolence and non cyber malevolence, to interfere and to influence our election.
Now, they have used variety of techniques here in U.S. and in Europe. Those include hacking, blackmail, extortion, you name it. And if any of those things are implicated here, we ought to investigate them and we ought to follow the facts where they lead.
CUOMO: Obamacare, first step taken in the Senate. Obviously, the American audience is getting an introduction into the legislative process because even though it seems these votes can be dispositive, they are just little steps along the way.
What is the Democrats disposition right now to what the possible is here? Do you think you can save the ACA? Is the word to just oppose so that you don't have to own whatever happens? Or is there a good faith interest in working with the Republicans to salvage what you can and maybe improve what needs improving?
SCHIFF: I think that we can save the ACA. I think we can save it because frankly it's done a lot of good and the Republicans have no idea what to do. They only have a campaign slogan, repeal and replace, but they never had any where what to replace with.
CUOMO: But you are losing the messaging war. You're losing the messaging war, even when we push back on the facts which are fairly plain at this point. You know, premiums are doubling and tripling, yes. But the population affected by those is a very, very small percentage of the population let alone the population under the ACA. People don't care. They think the ACA is broken. It needs to be
fixed. It was one of the driving forces in the election.
How do you counter that?
SCHIFF: You know, I think that's a misconception, because if you look how many people support the ACA, and you add how many people don't support it because they think it should go farther, that is a majority of Americans. You might make a stronger argument that they are losing the point.
And I think, frankly, as we get closer to their repeal and no answer to replacement, they are going to lose more and more public support.
[08:25:07] When more and more Americans realize what Republicans have in mind will have the effect of cutting millions and millions of people off of their health care, they will lose this fight.
So I think Democrats need to stand strong. If therefore were an interest in improving the ACA, we will work with them. They never demonstrated that interest. That's been problem.
Democrats like myself have acknowledged before the election for years, in fact, the ACA is not perfect. We ought to improve it. We ought to strengthen it.
But there's been no interest in doing that in the GOP, and we can't do that alone in the minority. But that doesn't mean we stop fighting for it. And, frankly, because they have no alternative, we have a chance of winning this fight.
CUOMO: Congressman, thank you for making the case on NEW DAY as always. Appreciate it.
SCHIFF: You bet. Thanks, Chris.
CAMEROTA: All right. Donald Trump reveals his plans to handle conflict of interests. We discuss it, next.
CUOMO: Can Donald Trump separate himself from his business interests in satisfactory fashion? It depends on who you're trying to satisfy. Ethics lawyers say he didn't go far enough yesterday and that we're looking at years of trouble.