Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Slams CIA Director & Suggests He May Be Leaker; Some Dems to Boycott Inauguration. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired January 16, 2017 - 07:00   ET


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Now the president-elect suggesting the CIA director may be the leaker of that unsubstantiated dossier.

[07:00:09] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So this as the backlash intensifies in the president-elect's feud with civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis. Now a growing list of Democratic lawmakers say they will boycott the inauguration.

And the president-elect now also vowing insurance for everybody in his plan to replace Obamacare. What does that mean exactly, and how will he do that?

Just four days now to go until the inauguration. Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Sara Murray live at Trump Tower here in New York.

Hey, Sara.


Well, Donald Trump has clearly had a fraught relationship with the intelligence community, but his war of words with outgoing CIA Director John Brennan escalating this weekend as Donald Trump took to Twitter to say, "Was this the leaker of fake news?"


MURRAY (voice-over): Donald Trump taking to Twitter to suggest that outgoing CIA Director John Brennan leaked unsubstantiated personal and financial information that could be damaging to Trump.

JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: There is no basis for Mr. Trump to point fingers at the intelligence community for leaking information that was already available publicly.

MURRAY: Trump's charge coming hours after Brennan appeared on national television, arguing the president-elect doesn't understand the critical threat Russia poses.

BRENNAN: I think he has to recognize that his words do have impact, and they can have very positive impact or they can be undercutting of our national security.

MURRAY: Trump has spent months doubting U.S. intelligence findings that Russia was behind the election cyberattacks. And in a new interview, the president-elect suggesting the U.S. could

ease tensions with Russia. Trump telling the "Times" of London and German newspaper "Bild," "Let's see if we can make some good deals."

This as China blasts Trump's comments over the weekend that the one- China policy which maintains Taiwan as part of China is under negotiation. China's state-run tabloid slamming Trump in an editorial, quote, "We were simply angry initially, but now we can't help but laugh."

REINCE PRIEBUS, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: There are no plans to change the one-China policy, but certainly that policy is on the table, if China doesn't also come to the table and work with us on trade, work with us on the South China Sea and what's happening there.

MURRAY: Meanwhile at home, Trump promising we're going to have insurance for everybody in a new interview with the "Washington Post." The president-elect not revealing specifics but says he's close to finishing his plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. And part of that plan will be to specifically target the pharmaceutical industry.

Over the weekend, thousands joining rallies across the country led by Democrats to protest repeal of the law. While Trump's feud with civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis intensifies.

LEWIS: I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president.

MURRAY: The controversial comment, of course, provoking Trump to tweet: "Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart, not to mention crime infested, rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk, no action or results. Sad."

But Trump's assertion is wrong. Lewis represents an economically diverse area of Atlanta, thriving and wealthy in some areas, with poverty in others. Now dozens of Democrats say they'll boycott Trump's inauguration.


MURRAY: Now, coming off of that feud with the civil rights icon, it's unclear what, if anything, Donald Trump will be doing today to mark Martin Luther King Day. He was expected to travel to Washington, D.C., but he scrapped those plans to stick around New York for the day, unclear exactly why -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Sara Murray, outside Trump Tower. Thanks so much.

Joining us now to discuss, the Democratic senator right in the middle of this all, Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Senator, good morning. Thank you so much for being with us today.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Good morning, John. Good to be with you and Poppy.

BERMAN: So let me read to you what the president-elect has said about the outgoing CIA director. You sit on the Intelligence Committee, so this is right in your area of expertise.

President-elect Trump wrote -- he was quoting an interview on FOX News. He said, "FOX News: CIA chief John Brennan blasts President- elect Trump on Russian threat, does not fully understand. Oh, really? Couldn't do much worse. Just look at Syria red line, Crimea, Ukraine, and the build-up of Russian nukes. Not good. Was this the leaker of fake news?"

So, again, Senator, I ask you, as a member of the intelligence community how does it help America to have the president-elect attacking the outgoing CIA director?

MANCHIN: Well, it really doesn't help us at all. What we've got to do is we've got a committee that's committed and professional that's going to be going into everything as far as the Russian hacking. And this is serious. And we take it very serious and we're going to share with the people in open meetings as much as humanly possible up to the classified level.

[17:05:11] I think we can get there very quickly and give confidence. I've got confidence in the intel community. Does there need to be changes? Was mistakes made? I'm sure that you can find mistakes anytime humans are involved. But these are dedicated professionals, and it's the security of our nation at risk right now. That's what we're concerned about.

John, here's the thing. If...

BERMAN: The Intelligence Committee is investigating alleged ties between the Trump campaign and the Russians during the campaign. FBI Director James Comey will not say whether the FBI is investigating those claims. Do you think the FBI should be investigating those claims?

MANCHIN: We're going to get all the information from all of the intel community. We have 17 different agencies that basically gather intel to keep America safe for our international -- for our national interests. We're going to be gathering information from each and every one of those entities. We're going to say what do you have? We're going to put it all together and make sure that we have the facts that we can move forward."

When they -- John, when they keep talking about non-legitimacy, that bothers me from this standpoint here. First of all, there is no indication whatsoever that any votes were tampered with, any voting machines were tampered with whatsoever anywhere -- anywhere in the United States.

In West Virginia, Donald Trump won by about 43 percent. And I can assure you there was no tampering to get that type of a margin of victory. But that's not the case. So if they believe that there was collusion between President-elect

Donald Trump or his staff, we'll find that out. But there's no indication of that whatsoever.

The intent of the Russians has always been under the Soviet control back in the '70s, they were always trying to be involved and influence our elections. We've never seen it to this degree. From everything that we say that we've been hearing and seeing shows that they've really gone more aggressively this time than ever before. They weren't successful, but basically their intent.

So all of this discord that we see going on between congressmen not attending, people basically saying he's not legitimate, basically then the Russians have accomplished what they tried to accomplish. I just think it's wrong, and it's hurtful for the United States of America.

BERMAN: So you're being critical of Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, who did say he doesn't believe that President-elect Trump is a legitimate president. Jerry Nadler, the congressman from New York, just moments ago on this show, said the same thing. He doesn't think the president-elect will be a legitimate president.

Neither of those men, more than 20 members of Congress, not attending the inauguration. You are against that. That's understandable. I'm a big fan of the peaceful transfer of power. I think it's something we should all rejoice in, each and everyone one of us.

However, the president-elect's response to it has been to attack Congressmen John Lewis. Do you think the level of discourse he's engaging in is helpful? What's your message to him, because you know, you have his ear. He listens to you.

MANCHIN: Well, John, two rights -- two wrongs don't make a right. And that's not my style at all. That has been President-elect Donald Trump's style. He is going to defend himself. He's going to come back at you as hard as he can. With that being said...

BERMAN: Is that good for the country, though? Is it good for America?

MANCHIN: No. If I was advising, if I had that -- if I was advising right now, I would say, "Mr. President-elect, please, at this point in time let's try to bring everybody together. We're going to have a hard enough time moving this country forward, making sure that we're still the economic power and engine of the world, if you will, but we're going to have to come together. And we're going to have disagreements. That's not a problem."

I have always believed this. First of all, there's a time to be blue and red, I guess, through these elections. We beat each other up unmerciful. John, there's a time to be red, white and blue, and that's America. We're in that period right now, and the president has to lead us into that. And with that being said...

BERMAN: Can I...

MANCHIN: ... John Lewis is an icon.

BERMAN: Let me ask you one element of leadership right now, because we did an interview which was just published overnight where he's talking about many different areas of the world. And he said something interesting about Vladimir Putin, the leader of Russia, and Angela Merkel, the leader of Germany.

Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who do you trust more if you talk to them, Angela Merkel or Vladimir Putin?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I start off trusting both, but let's see how long that lasts. It may not last long at all.


BERMAN: He is putting Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin on the same moral plane, leading into his administration. Do you think that's wise?

MANCHIN: Well, look, that's not where I would put him. I mean, basically, Putin -- I know what Putin's intentions are, being former KGB. He is not a friend of the United States. He knows he can't compete with us economically. He knows he can't compete with us militarily. So basically, the only way he's going to be able to compete is to bring us down. So his intentions are not there.

[07:10:03] Angela Merkel, she basically and with Germany and with a NATO ally, has been someone who has been very supportive and very friendly with our intentions of what we should be doing around the world.

So I would not agree with that whatsoever, and I think that we need to basically get back to doing business and doing business that we do with our allies, our NATO allies and those people that we trust.

BERMAN: One of your great areas of domestic concern is healthcare, senator, and Obamacare, you voted against the repeal measure in the Senate just now. You have said you want to work to repair it going forward.

President-elect Trump gave an interview over the weekend where he's talking about what he wants. He says, "We're going to have insurance for everybody. There was a philosophy in some circles that, if you can't pay for it, you don't get it. That's not going to happen for us. We're going to have insurance for everybody."

That sounds like universal healthcare, Senator. How do you think he's going to get there?

MANCHIN: Well, I've spoke to President-elect Trump about this issue and everything, I says, listen, you can't expect any of us -- I don't know how my friends -- my Republican friends can actually vote to repeal something until we see the repair or replacement.

Here's the thing, John. They're talking about repealing it with 51 votes. They're going to be all Republican votes, not one Democrat. If you want to learn from our past mistakes, look at what the Democrats did in 2010, when they passed it with no Republican votes. That does not bring our country together. There's people like myself, Democrats, willing to work to fix the parts that we know that's not working.

People in the private market and private insurers, people above the threshold that don't get any type of subsidies, they are paying a horrendous price. And people that are going without buying insurance, they are paying the fine. There's things that we can do to fix this.

I'm very grateful that he's willing to take this approach and says, "Hold on, you're not going to repeal it until we can replace it with repairs." So I appreciate President-elect Trump saying that. That stopped the machine, because I'll tell you, John, they were going to throw the baby out with the bath water, repeal it and say, "Oh, wait a couple years."

They wanted to get past the 2018 election. They were going to take all of the taxes that's paying for this off completely, which would have put us in one heck of a budget hole of about $400 billion. So I appreciate him coming forth and saying, "Let's fix this." So let's see what happens.

BERMAN: He's actually saying he's going to come back with more, maybe if you listen to his actual words there.

Senator Manchin of West Virginia, look forward to seeing you in Washington later this week at the inauguration, sir.

MANCHIN: Well, we'll be there, John. Thank you so much.

And we're going to -- we're going to come together as Americans. We always have. We've been through tougher times than this. This is a great country with great people. We're going to be there.

MANCHIN: Well, we're counting on you to make that happen, sir. Thanks so much -- Poppy.

HARLOW: All right. Breaking news. At least 37 people have been killed after a Turkish Airlines cargo plane missed the runway, crashing into a village in Kyrgyzstan. At least eight people including children were hospitalized with burns and other injuries.

An emergency official says poor visibility may have been a factor in this crash. Investigators are searching the wreckage in the snow right now.

A success for SpaceX, the company launched a rocket carrying ten satellites into orbit this weekend. You may remember, the last launch went very differently. That rocket caught fire and exploded on the launch pad before takeoff, destroying the rocket and an Israeli satellite. SpaceX is planning six more launches over the next 14 days.

HARLOW: The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus folding their tent after 146 years. Only 30 shows remain, with the final performance scheduled for May. Rising operating costs and declining ticket sales being blamed for the shut-down. Animals rights groups recently forced Ringling Bros. to phase out their popular elephant act, driving attendance even lower.

BERMAN: Did you ever go to the circus?

HARLOW: I can't remember. When I was five maybe.

BERMAN: I mean, I don't want anyone to lose their jobs. A little strange in 2016, the circus. Strange.

HARLOW: I think Cirque du Soleil took a lot of their -- cannibalized.

BERMAN: They're very flexible in Cirque du Soleil.

HARLOW: They are, indeed.

BERMAN: To politics, President-elect Donald Trump in a feud with the head of the CIA now and a civil rights hero days before his inauguration. What can he do to unify the country? We will discuss that and a lot more with former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, next on NEW DAY.


[07:18:17] HARLOW: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Just four days before taking the oath of office, Donald Trump is feuding with outgoing CIA director John Brennan and also civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis. The question is why is he sparring so close to the inauguration? Let's discuss it all and more with former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory.

The governor, of course, has been in regular contact with the president-elect and his transition team. Thank you for joining us.


HARLOW: I've got to begin with this, your reaction to the president- elect's tweet last night. John Brennan was very critical of him on FOX News Sunday. Here is what the president-elect tweeted, quoting a FOX News article that was titled, "Outgoing CIA chief John Brennan blasts President-elect Trump op Russia threat, does not fully understand. Trump says, oh, really? Couldn't do much worse. Just look at Syria red line, Crimea, Ukraine and the build-up of Russian nukes. Not good. Was this the leaker of fake news?"

It's that last line. He's questioning whether the head of the CIA leaked this 35-page unsubstantiated dossier with no evidence behind asking whether this man is the leaker. Your reaction?

MCCRORY: Well, first thing we've realized during the campaign and also at the beginning of this presidency is our president is a fighter, but also he surrounds himself with a group of very diplomatic, well-qualified diversified cabinet people. I mean, look at Nikki Haley, who's going to be the new U.N. ambassador. She's a person who's going to bring calmness to an international situation.

HARLOW: But governor, that's not my question. I mean, I'm asking you about the words of the president-elect, calling the head of the CIA possibly a leaker, which would mean that he would be a liar and dishonest.

MCCRORY: Well, he was responding to the CIA director, who basically made some very negative comments about the president-elect. And we've known that we have a president who fights.

But he also surrounds himself with people like Mike Pence, the former governor of Indiana, former congressman, a good friend of mine who brings calmness to the situation. It's almost like a good cop/bad cop type of situation, where he does have people like Nikki Haley...

HARLOW: Are you saying that he can lash out like this and say unsubstantiated things because he surrounds himself with people who don't?

MCCRORY: I think he's saying very strongly that if you swing at the president he is going to swing back hard while also having the people around him who understand then that rebuild the bridges. But he does say this. If you're a congressman, if you're a current CIA director and you go after the president-elect he is going to swing back. He's doing that internationally and domestically.

HARLOW: I have Brennan's comments. I have Brennan's comments here. I'm not going to read all of them, but I don't think he has a full appreciation for Russia's capabilities.

He said, "I think he has to be mindful that he has to have a full understanding of what the implications are of going down this road, et cetera." He was critical. I mean, isn't that sort of the basis of what America is that you can be critical even of the incoming commander in chief and say, "Look, I want you to be careful with what you say about our intelligence community" without having the commander in chief come out and say, "Well, then you must have leaked the fake dossier"?

MCCRORY: I disagree. I think the CIA director, if he has particular situations with the president-elect of the United States call him up. He doesn't need to go on Sunday TV and be critical of the qualifications or the intent of the current president-elect, who's about to get sworn in as president of the United States.

HARLOW: Wouldn't that same standard...

MCCRORY: The CIA director ought to probably call the president.

HARLOW: Governor, wouldn't that same standard, then, be applied to the president-elect instead of tweeting his insults at the intelligence community and putting "intelligence" in quotes, calling them up?

MCCRORY: Not after the CIA director swings. He's going to swing back.

HARLOW: The president-elect made those insults to the intelligence community well before Brennan went on FOX yesterday.

MCCRORY: And some of it may be deserved. Some of this information should have never gotten out of personal briefings with the president of the United States, including the current president. Those should be extremely confidential.

Listen, as a governor for four years, when I had briefings, I assumed those briefings were confidential and would not get out the media. But for some reason, they are getting out to the press, and they shouldn't be getting out to the press. It's unfair to the president- elect, just like I think it would be unfair to President Obama if personal briefings were getting out that were given to him.

HARLOW: Governor, I'd like your take on this battle now between Congressman John Lewis and the president-elect. Obviously, the basis of it is that Lewis said he's not a legitimate president. The president-elect swung back, saying that he is a man of all talk, no action. Obviously, the context of this is his civil rights work all the way back, you know, from 1965 on. What's your take on how the president-elect responded? Should he have swung back this time?

MCCRORY: Well, let me first say this. I just got out of the toughest election I've ever been in. I lost by 10,000 votes out of 4.6 million There were things I didn't like about the election. There are things that I'm still questioning about the election, but my -- my replacement, the new governor of North Carolina, is the legitimate governor of North Carolina; and that should never be questioned by another elected official. And I feel the same way about the president-elect. A U.S. congressman should not be questioning the legitimacy of our elections.

It's part of our Constitution. We need to have a smooth transition, and that's where I stand. I'm going to do everything I can to be respectful of my replacement and Representative Lewis ought to do the same thing.

HARLOW: Are you supportive of how the president-elect responded?

MCCRORY: I am supportive of him swinging back when you need to. That's been his technique during the campaign. That's obviously going to be his technique and attitude when he's president of the United States. The people knew that when they elected him.

And I'm still very impressed with the people that he has around him that compliments that technique and also brings about cooler heads when we need to have cooler heads, both domestically and internationally.

You have admitted that part of your defeat in this, you know, very tough, tough governor battle in North Carolina is because of this controversial bathroom bill. And we now have eight plus states that have these types of -- similar types of legislation preventing transgender individuals from using their bathroom of the identity -- the gender identity that they identify with.

Any warning? Should any warning to those states that they should proceed with caution on this?

[07:25:04] MCCRORY: I don't think this is going to end up being a state issue. This is going to be a national issue. I think Jeff Sessions, our new U.S. attorney general, is going to have the most interesting decision whether to override some of Lynch's recent decisions regarding Title VII and Title IX regarding how do we identify gender in the future in the United States for the private sector?

HARLOW: She called it state -- Loretta Lynch called it state- sanctioned discrimination. Do you have any regrets, with hindsight as 20/20, on pushing and backing this bill?

MCCRORY: No, what I -- what I anticipate is the U.S. Supreme Court is going to decide this very, very complex decision, which I think will apply to the 1965 U.S. Civil Rights Act and how you define sex in the future or gender in the future. And I think the attorney general will be helping decide this, along with the new U.S. Supreme Court justice that President-elect Trump will be selecting in the very near future.

I think this is a national issue, not a state issue, on how to define the 1965 Civil Rights Act and defining gender. It's extremely complex. It's extremely emotional, controversial, but it needs to be decided. And I think it needs to actually be decided at the federal level.

HARLOW: Governor, I appreciate you joining us this morning. Thank you.

MCCRORY: Thank you very much.

BERMAN: All right. The president-elect also taking on foreign policy skeptics in Europe and reports that China is, quote, "laughing at him." So how will he respond next? We'll discuss.