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Trump On Iran: Nothing Is Off The Table; Countdown To Super Sunday; Trump Adviser Cites Non-Existent 'Massacre'; U.N. Ambassador Haley's Tough Talk For Russia. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired February 3, 2017 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST, SR. NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, THE DAILY BEAST: They said something about maybe economic measures. We pressed, do you mean military measures? They wouldn't elaborate. Finally, I said well, you said you didn't want to unnecessarily provoke Iran but you've, essentially, just made a verbal threat. And they said well, we're hoping that Iran will heed this and change their behavior. They were very careful to say, however, this has nothing to do with the Iran nuclear deal.

As I see it, what they're trying to do is thread this needle, saying you know, we're trying to discipline Iran on its bad behavior on one area but we're not sanction -- we're not jettisoning the nuclear deal. However, they've just thrown red meat to the hardliners in Iran, laying down a line that they know they're probably going to cross.

That would then give the White House an excuse -- a reason to do something very provocative, whether it be put more ships in the Gulf to harass Iranian naval ships -- something like that -- and then you could see an escalation. So, the problem is once you've said something like this and the other side does something, you do have to act on it.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Spider, I want to ask you about the raid in Yemen that left one Navy SEAL dead. There seems to be confusion about when this mission was planned. Some in the Trump administration have suggested it was in the planning stages for months and it was okayed by the Obama administration. The Obama administration says no, we didn't sign off on it and OK it. I don't know that it matters unless we think that this was done in haste somehow. What are your thoughts on what happened here?

JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST, ADVISORY BOARD MEMBR, ACADEMY SECURITIES: You know, Alisyn, I doubt that this was done -- I can state with confidence, this was not done in haste. That would be a characterization that's inappropriate for the leadership that we have, both in the Defense Department right now and, then, in those combatant commands. General Tony Thomas down at SOCOM, he has been doing this his entire life. His colleague at Central Command, Joe Votel, has been doing this together with Tony Thomas all their lives and so these are very measured guys who understand all the intricacies of this.

So, strategically, what you have is a number of mission sets that are available for execution, depending upon conditions, and most importantly, depending upon clarity of intelligence. So, this was an operation that was on the shelf, it had a life to it, it had a horizon. You know, at some point it's going to get stale so they knew they wanted to execute, so this thing was in planning for a while and the only turnover was at the commander-in-chief level. So, those that were cognizant into the details of this planning have been in place for months.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. So just to put a fine point on it, Kim, because there's a lot of hype about this, you know. There's two different versions that, you know, we -- if this went really bad versus what Spider said the first day we asked him about this, which was bad things happen when you are in a conflict situation. And then it's the Obama people didn't want to do this and the Trump people did. What is your best reporting on this, just to give clarity to the audience?

DOZIER: That they had a good target with a lot of what they thought would be intelligence that would help them build the al Qaeda network -- the picture of what they understand about that network, and that it was worth the risk of putting boots on the ground. But that officials I've talked to have said, the enemy on this day just had a good day.

CAMEROTA: Guys, thank you so much for helping us understand this in a much more thorough way. Great to talk to both of you.

MARKS: You're welcome, thanks.

CAMEROTA: One of Donald Trump's advisers defending the travel ban, but was she using alternative facts and talking about a terrorist attack that never happened? We discuss.


[07:37:32] CAMEROTA: Super Bowl weekend is here I'm told, and there's no shortage of storylines. The game's two hottest quarterbacks squaring off with Tom Brady in search of an unprecedented fifth ring. Sprinkle in a little political intrigue and there's something for everyone, including nachos. It's less than -- oh, I don't know how many hours until kickoff but Coy Wire is already there. He's live in Houston. Hi, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, hi, Alisyn, about 60 hours. Lady Gaga, in her upcoming Super Bowl halftime show, is one of those storylines. Now, Gaga is known taking a stance against bullying. She's for equality and last year's Super Bowl had 115 million viewers. It would be a big stage to make a political statement. She was asked if she would do that. Here she is.


LADY GAGA SUPER BOWL HALFTIME PERFORMER: The only statements that I'll be making during the halftime show are the ones that I have been consistently making throughout my career. I believe in a passion for inclusion. When you're watching football, you're watching guys crash into each other, you're watching some real strategizing happening. It's a pretty intense situation and I didn't want the halftime show to take a dip, so it's going to be a good time.


WIRE: All right, Alisyn. There are rumors that she'll actually perform from the roof of NRG Stadium. She wouldn't give any clues about that but she did say that she will not wear a meat suit -- a suit made of meat like she once wore during an awards show and she promised no wardrobe malfunction like the one Janet Jackson had at the 2004 Super Bowl here in Houston. This performance, she says, is for all the youngsters out there who couldn't get a seat at the cool kids table and she's going to give them the stage for 13 minutes at the Super Bowl.

Now, "KICKOFF IN HOUSTON" -- you're going to want to check it out, a CNN Bleacher Report special airs Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Eastern on both CNN and CNN International. I, and Hines Ward, will be led by John Berman. Let us know @NewDay who do you have in the big game? Who's going to win? I'm going to take the Falcons, 30-28 -- my former team. Cuomo, who you got?

CUOMO: Hate the Patriots. Hate the Patriots.

CAMEROTA: All right, we get it. We get it.

CUOMO: But I don't like Coy anymore because he made fun of me, so I don't want to help his Falcons.

CAMEROTA: Right. Coy, I'll get back to you on my pick as soon as I determine it. Thank you, bye.

CUOMO: All right. Speaking of things that aren't going to happen, Kellyanne Conway was talking alternative facts and, boy, she took it to a whole new level. The Trump adviser defending Trump's travel ban by citing what she calls "the Bowling Green massacre" -- listen.

[07:40:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: These are nations very prescribed and also temporary.


CONWAY: I bet there was very little coverage. I bet -- I bet -- it's brand new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized, and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre.

MATTHEWS: Well, let's --

CONWAY: And most people don't know that because it didn't get covered.


CUOMO: OK. It didn't get covered because it did not happen. Let's bring in CNN senior political analyst and senior editor of "The Atlantic," Ron Brownstein, and CNN political commentator and senior columnist at "The Daily Beast," Matt Lewis.


CUOMO: Well, Ron, look, first of all, there was no ban, OK? You can argue that as a question of political semantics and what's slow versus stop, but his Bowling Green massacre --


CUOMO: Is there anything other than these arrests that we found of these two who arguably should not have gotten into the country, but they never did anything here.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, they were charged with desiring to send weapons to Iraq.

CUOMO: Back to Iraq.

BROWNSTEIN: Back to Iraq so, no, there's nothing like this. You know, it got obscured by the doubts about Hillary Clinton, but nearly as many people in polling over the last year and one-half have said that Donald -- that question whether Donald Trump is honest, is trustworthy, as questioned Hillary Clinton's honesty and trustworthiness.

And the fact is that, you know, this is an administration that is posing a great challenge for journalism in that it is willing to say -- to kind of stretch the boundaries and sometimes barrel -- you know, barrel right past the boundaries of truth on a regular basis. And you do have this kind of polarization in the electorate where a portion of Trump supporters are simply unwilling to accept any kind of correction, but not all --


BROWNSTEIN: -- not all. And the fact is that he is standing at an approval rating today lower than any president this new in his presidency and that says there are people who are listening. They are not totally immune to reality.

CAMEROTA: But, Matt Lewis, this is exhibit A of why we need real news and real journalists, like CNN, and real organizations that will follow a story to where it really began and follow the thread because she sabotaged her own point. She actually had a good point. Unfortunately, she made it fictitious.

But there is a story here and I have heard a lot of Mr. Trump's supporters mention this Bowling Green incident and it is that there were two Iraqi refugees who got in and shouldn't have gotten in because their fingerprints didn't, you know, hit on a database or they weren't fingerprinted. The system has since been corrected because of these -- this lapse in these two Bowling Green guys arrested in Kentucky who were Iraqi refugees. Because of the problem, the system was fixed but that's not the story that she wanted to tell, but her story was not a real one.

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, SENIOR COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Right. So, there were two Iraqi nationalists who tried to send -- allegedly tried to send arms and money to Iraq. That's a big story, you're right, and that would have been a really good thing to cite and it's persuasive, you know, if you're trying to push Donald Trump's policies as a persuasive argument. That's why I don't think this was intentional. I don't think this was an -- maybe I'm being naive here.

I don't think this was Kellyanne Conway, you know, trying to spread false news. I think this is an example of somebody who got it wrong, who messed up. She should have made the other argument. That would have been plenty good enough. So, you know, I'm going to give her a little slack here. People make mistakes on T.V. and, you know, I think that she just -- I don't know if it was misspeaking or just getting it wrong. I don't know that this was an intentional attempt to invent a Bowling Green massacre that, in fact, did not occur.

CAMEROTA: You know, I agree with you. I think she got it wrong, she didn't know all of her facts. But to suggest that the media would not cover a terrorist massacre, that is just so --


CAMEROTA: -- fantastical.

LEWIS: It is hard to cut her too much slack with the sort of lecturing, you know. You know, hitting us on the -- the media, you know, on the fingers with the roller, sort of lecturing us about covering things, you know. That's a fair point. But, you know, as people who go on T.V. a lot, sometimes you make mistakes.


LEWIS: I think that's what this was. I think it was a mistake and --

CUOMO: Hold on a second. Hold on a second. A mistake is something that you do once. I'm all about forgiveness, all, right? People make mistakes, I make mistakes, it happens.


CUOMO: But -- I know -- well, not as many as you, but I'm saying I make mistakes. What I'm saying is that this wasn't just once, OK?


CUOMO: You know, if you call me Frank once it's a mistake. You call me frank all the time you obviously don't like my name. So, I think that's what we're seeing here. This Bowling Green -- I get tweets about it on a regular basis about all this B.S. about fake news and we wouldn't cover this and that's why we don't care, and it's almost always attached to another bogus story, and that's the problem.

BROWNSTEIN: Right. CUOMO: When you give lies life they take on a life of their own.

BROWNSTEIN: Absolutely. There's an ecosystem of these kinds of stories that are out there and there's also kind of an attitude -- look what the president tweeted this morning -- fake news about the reports confirmed by administration officials only a day ago, that the conversation with the prime minister of Australia was confrontational. I mean -- and then today, was saying well, it was a civil conversation, and he said so, and thank you.

[07:45:14] What world leader anywhere in the world is going to say I was uprated by the president and belittled? You know, you immediately emasculate yourself and look weak to your -- to your local -- so, I mean, the fact -- the fact is that we have -- journalism is being challenged here. And, you know, we've seen responses. "The New York Times" using language on the front page that we haven't seen. CNN enkirons (sp) correcting as -- everybody is going to have to evolve because we have a -- we have a conversation with policy -- with policy leaders that are going in a very different way than we've seen before.


CUOMO: If you make a mistake you have to own it and say you're sorry about it and then move on. That's something else that's in short supply.

CAMEROTA: Matt, Ron, thank you very much. We're not going anywhere.

CUOMO: President Trump promised a radical break from the Obama foreign policy. What are we seeing? Is that turning out to be true? We will lay it out for you. You decide, next.


CUOMO: Many are remembering New York City police detective Steven McDonald. He chose to forgive the teenager who shot him and left him paralyzed. It didn't stop McDonald from spreading a message of love and compassion right up until his death last month. CNN's Brynn Gingras has more on how this man went beyond the call of duty.

[07:50:13] (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DET. SGT. CONOR MCDONALD, STEVEN MCDONALD'S SON: My dad and I would -- we'd rub our heads together all the time. We knew we couldn't hug.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A wall filled with pictures, just a fraction of moments in the storied life of NYPD detective Steven McDonald.

C. MCDONALD: I'd rub my head against his head and give him a kiss on the forehead.

GINGRAS: Officer Conner McDonald grew up only knowing his dad to be confined to a wheelchair. In the summer of 1986, McDonald was paralyzed after being shot while on patrol in Central Park.

C. MCDONALD: They gave my dad three to five years to live. His life wasn't supposed to be that long after the shooting.

PATTI ANN MCDONALD, STEVEN MCDONALD'S WIDOW: We were just so blessed we had the 30 years.

GINGRAS: Less than a year after the shooting McDonald's faith led him to this moment.

STEVEN MCDONALD: Now I could forgive the kid that shot me.

P. MCDONALD: He needed to let people know I forgive. There were some people that didn't agree with him.

C. MCDONALD: But he didn't let anger destroy his heart and he wanted to help communities.

GINGRAS: For decades, McDonald traveled the world preaching forgiveness.

C. MCDONALD: He'd go to Israel, Northern Ireland, Bosnia.

GINGRAS: The impact he made on others never more clear than in January on the day he was laid to rest. Conor and his mother were not alone.

C. MCDONALD: Every single overpass, every single body of water -- like, there was people out there. People stopping their cars saluting my dad.

COMM. JAMES O'NEILL, NYPD: He believed that tragedy that befell him was something that happened to him for a reason, to inspire him, to inspire others.

P. MCDONALD: The outpouring was just -- it was -- I was speechless, really.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Father of mercy, we commend our brother, Steven.

GINGRAS: What do you think he thought he greatest accomplishment was?

P. MCDONALD: I think Dad's best accomplishment was you, seriously.

GINGRAS: The McDonald men would often be found rink-side in Madison Square Garden.

C. MCDONALD: When the Rangers won my dad -- like, my dad could be able to walk again, you know. When the lost, like don't talk to him for three weeks.

GINGRAS: The team would later repay that respect.

RANGERS ANNOUNCER: And rather than a moment of silence, join together for a moment of cheer in celebration of Steven's amazing spirit. (Cheers)

GINGRAS: A standing ovation for a man, despite his appearance, had no limitations. A father, husband, police officer devoted to others until his very last breath.

P. MCDONALD: He is in a better place and he's not suffering. He's not in any pain and he's walking and he's free.

GINGRAS: Brynn Gingras, CNN, New York.


CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, that is beautiful. That's really touching.

CUOMO: He has a legacy. He has been a known commodity as the best of what our men and women have to offer when they're in uniform and it won't end. And his son is the -- the mom was right. This son is the most beautiful example of what this man favored and there's no better legacy for a man than his family.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh.

CUOMO: He's got a beautiful one with them.

CAMEROTA: I know. His wife is impressive, too. I'm so glad that we just to see that.

All right. Well, new U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley criticizing Russia for its aggression in Ukraine during her very first appearance at the Security Council.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: The United States continues to condemn and call for an immediate end to the Russia occupation of Crimea. Crimea is a part of Ukraine. Our Crimea- related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control over the peninsula to Ukraine.


CAMEROTA: All right. So, those strong anti-Kremlin statements adding to questions about the policy of the Trump administration -- their foreign policy. Is it starting to resemble President Obama's? Let's discuss this with Robin Wright, contributing writer for "The New Yorker" and the author of "The Islamists Are Coming: Who They Really Are." And, Aaron David Miller, CNN global affairs analyst and vice president for the New Initiatives at Woodrow Wilson Center. Great to see both of you.

Robin, I'll start with you. So, these were strong words that Ambassador Haley talked about. She condemned Russia for occupying Crimea. She called upon them to deescalate. That is so different than anything that we've heard President Trump say so far. How do you explain the discrepancy?

ROBIN WRIGHT, MIDDLE EAST ANALYST, AUTHOR, "THE ISLAMISTS ARE COMING": Well, I think President Trump is clearly trying to show that he is going to be the strong man making decisions, trying to keep the world uncertain. He's trying to change the rules and he wants to have it always a little bit of both ways. He wants to send a strong message to Vladimir Putin that he wants to do business with him but that there are limits.

One of the truths about becoming president, and I've covered every president dating back to the early 1970's, is that they come in thinking that the can shape the world in their own image or in America's image, and in the end, they find out that the world can often shape the world and force it into playing within certain parameters. And I think President Trump is showing that this kind of Russian aggression in the Ukraine is forcing his hand to take a -- to take a stronger stand on this issue. That he can't be seen, whatever his intentions of new relationship with Vladimir Putin, to ignore the realities of aggression on the ground.

[07:55:24] CUOMO: Reaction formation, Aaron David Miller, what you call terror incognito. Unknown land -- ground, now, with Iran. It feels good for President Trump to be strong and tell people you're on notice, and this is worst call, and boy, you better step it up or we're out. Feels good, shows strength, reaction formation to the Obama administration criticized for being weak. Does this help -- this tone change?

AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST, VP FOR NEW INITIATIVES, WOODROW WILSON CENTER: Well, it will help if it's part of a calculated strategy that avoids escalation and, yet, protects American interest. I mean, we've been down the redline road before and I think that the danger in basically saying that Iran is on notice -- first of all, you have to define what "on notice" means.

Second, you have to prepare for the eventuality that the Iranians will defy and will test ballistic missile technology again. They've got over 1,000 short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, more than any other nation in the region.

They probably will test again so then the question is, not to put too fine a point on it, will the administration put up or, frankly, shut up, and what are the options available? And I don't -- I think the options are bad. Our allies are not going to stand with us on this and Iran has a lot they can do in the region to hurt us. So again, on notice, OK. Be very careful and cautious, however, that you don't end up producing the very outcome that you're not prepared to confront.

CAMEROTA: So, Robin, I mean, beyond the strong rhetoric that you talk about and appearing, you know, at these press conferences to be strong, what, to your mind, is the Trump doctrine of foreign policy?

WRIGHT: Well, we don't know, really. We're beginning to feel the parameters of it. I think he's already said that he wants to make America first on every issue. That's not always going to be easy in a globalizing world where the United States has found it necessary to collaborate with -- whether it's a formal alliance like NATO or to create an informal one as President Bush did in going into Iraq -- that you cannot do these things alone anymore.

And there's a real danger that in trying to challenge, whether it's a refugee deal in talks with the Australian prime minister or talking about either the wall or a longstanding regional alliance in NAFTA with the Mexicans, that there are real dangers of trying to go against a global order that has been in the making for decades and decades, since the Second World War.

And so, you know, we are seeing him try to rewrite the rules and I think that, you know, he can do that for only so long before he realizes that this is an interdependent world, that the challenges that are in another part a long -- thousands of miles away -- in fact, some of them we need -- we need partners in process.

COUMO: Aaron, you've been through this so many times with so many political agendas at the State Department. What's your big concern?

MILLER: My big concern is that this administration see the world the way it is and not just the way it wants it to be. That the administration functions in a manner in which it gets the best people with the best information to create options so it can make the best kinds of decisions. Right now, you have much of a Trump foreign policy designed, I would argue, for a galaxy far, far away. You've got fights picked with allies for unnecessary reasons. You have an executive order on immigration, frankly, that does not address the real threat that we face here at home. And the question is will, in fact, a course-correction be made so that foreign policy can be made for planet earth?

Some would argue that the statement on Israeli settlements which clearly is a -- maybe not a red light but a yellow light with respect to Israeli settlement activity -- a clear indication that the administration's not going to violate or abandon the agreement. And perhaps a bit of toughening on Vladimir Putin. Nikki Haley's statement suggests that maybe, just maybe, that sort of reality therapy is starting to take hold. But I'm telling you, two weeks in I wouldn't bet my mortgage on it quite yet.

CAMEROTA: Aaron David Miller, Robin Wright, thank you. Great to talk to both of you.

MILLER: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: We're following a lot of news this morning so let's get right to it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With Israel, the administration has sent contradictory signals.

CUOMO: President Trump's warning Israel about new settlements in the West Bank.


HALEY: The dire situation in Eastern Ukraine demands strong condemnation of Russian actions.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iran continues to be a --