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Republicans Denounce Trump's Defense of Putin; Trump Delivering Campaign Promises; Lady Gaga Lights Up Super Bowl Stage; SNL Takes on Sean Spicer, Steve Bannon; Trump vs. the Media. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired February 6, 2017 - 08:30   ET



[08:33:50] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Republicans are denouncing President Donald Trump because of his apparent defense of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his putting of the United States and Putin's Kremlin on moral equivalent grounds. We just heard from Sabastian Gorka. He's a deputy assistant to the president. And he claimed that the media, we're taking Trump out of context. Listen for yourself.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Putin's a former KGB agent. He's a thug. He was not elected in a way that most people would consider a credible election. The Russians annexed Crimea, invaded Ukraine and messed around in our elections. No, I don't think there's any equivalency between the way the Russians conduct themselves and the way the United States does.

SEN. BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: Let's be clear, has the U.S. ever made any mistakes? Of course. Is the U.S. at all like Putin's regime? Not at all. There is no moral equivalency between the United States of America, the greatest freedom loving nation in the history of the world, and the murderous thugs that are in Putin's defense of his cronyism.


CUOMO: Now when we asked Mr. Gorka about this perspective from the GOP, he dismissed it as fake news and potentially bias. But as you just heard, that was the Senate majority leader and Ben Sasse. They said what they said.

[08:35:08] Let's discuss with CNN political commentator Ana Navarro and CNN political commentator and former Reagan White House political director Jeffrey Lord.

The insistence, brother Lord, of calling every criticism and every hard question fake and bias seems a little weak at this point, does it not?

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Chris, Chris, let me ask you, where is your clip of Donald Trump saying there is a moral equivalent between Russia and the United States. Do you have that clip?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, we do. Let's play it. Do we have the clip of the --

LORD: He says moral equivalence?

CAMEROTA: He says that we are -- O'Reilly says he's a killer.

LORD: That (INAUDIBLE) moral equivalence.

CAMEROTA: He says Putin is a killer and he say, so, we have killers here.

LORD: Does he say "moral equivalent"? No, he doesn't.


CUOMO: Let's listen to him and then we'll discuss it.


LORD: Does --

CUOMO: Let's listen to him.

LORD: He doesn't --



BILL O'REILLY, "THE O'REILLY FACTOR": Do you respect Putin?


O'REILLY: Do you? Why?

TRUMP: Well, I respect a lot of people, but that doesn't mean I'm going to get along with him. He's a leader of his country. I say it's better to get along with Russia than not. And if Russia helps us in the fight against ISIS, which is a major fight, and Islamic terrorism all over the world, --

O'REILLY: Right.

TRUMP: Major fight, that's a good thing. Will I get along with him? I have no idea. (INAUDIBLE) --

O'REILLY: He's a killer, though. Putin's a killer.

TRUMP: There are a lot of killers. We've got a lot of killers. What, you think our country's so innocent?


LORD: So, Ali --


LORD: Chris, he didn't use the phrase "moral equivalence."

CAMEROTA: Jeffrey --

LORD: What he said was, we've had -- we -- he said we've had killers. Now, have you read the church committee report on the CIA and the attempts to kill Fidel Castro? Have you? I mean I'm just suggesting the scene of the (INAUDIBLE) state senate (ph) (INAUDIBLE) --

CAMEROTA: Jeffrey -- Jeffrey, did you -- didn't you call this kind of rhetoric the blame America first crowd for the past eight years?

LORD: What?

CAMEROTA: When there was criticism from the Obama administration of the United States, didn't you say they were blaming America first?

LORD: Look, all I'm saying is, he is saying fact. America is still the city on a shining hill. Have we made mistakes? Yes. But are we morally equivalent? No. And he never said that. That's a fact.

CUOMO: But what he did do, Ana -- what he did do is, when asked basically to condemn Vladimir Putin -- I -- with -- you know, I think, and Bill can correct me, but I think that's where O'Reilly was going, he's a killer. You seem to be sheltering him. You seem to be deferential to him. Why? He chose instead to levy similar criticism that had been levied against Trump -- Putin on the United States.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And he's been doing it over and over again. If Donald Trump has been consistent on anything, it has been on protecting, sheltering, commending Putin throughout the campaign, and now since being president-elect and being president. And I would say to the leaders in my party who are, you know, offended, outraged by this equivalency, by these words, stop being offended, stop tweeting at me about how we're not equivalent and address a -- you know, get a select committee going and investigate Russian hacking.

We've gotten our eyes off the ball. That is the issue. That is something that every single American should continue to be worried about. Our democracy, its integrity, its transparency, it's a bastion of this society. And now we are arguing about all sorts of things and we've come -- because there's been so much coming at us, right? For two weeks it's been hard. It's been drinking out of a water hose, out of a fire hose the way that it's been going. We need to focus on that.

And so Mitch McConnell, who has refused -- refused to name a select committee on investigating Russia, even though folks like John McCain, like Lindsey Graham and other leaders of the Republican Party have asked him should do that. Yes, you know, go ahead and say publicly, which you should, you should confront Trump when he tries to make an equivalency between Russia and the United States, we are not Putin. We don't poison the opposition. LORD: Right.

NAVARRO: We don't do the things that they do.

LORD: Well, that's not true.

NAVARRO: And -- well, you know, I would not -- I don't -- I don't -- I don't think Fidel Castro was any ally of the United States. But I'm not going there. I am sticking to my focus. We need an investigation of the Russian hacking on the elections. We need to find out why Donald Trump is so against that. And Republican leaders, instead of getting all tied up in knots about this, should be focusing on that.

LORD: I think -- I think the president's issued an executive order on cyber security. He wants this improved, absolutely. I agree.

NAVARRO: And he has said he wants no investigation of the Russian hacking. And every time he can cover them, he does.

I remember -- I'm old enough to remember when Republicans got very upset with President Obama telling Medvedev that he'd have more flexibility after the election. Those same Republicans should be as outraged. And now they've got leadership. They've got the ability to set the agenda, to name select committees, and they should.

LORD: Well --

CUOMO: Hey, Jeffrey, other than like playing word defense with the president, we all know what went on there and we know why he's getting criticized for it.

LORD: No, no, no, no, Chris, I'm not doing that.

CUOMO: What's -- but -- but, Jeffrey, just because he doesn't use the words doesn't mean that that was his obvious implication from his statement.

LORD: Chris -- Chris --

CUOMO: It's just like me saying, I can't wait to see you --

LORD: Chris -- Chris --

CUOMO: And give you a hug and a kiss, and you say, ah, but you never said you like me.

[08:40:00] LORD: But, Chris --

CUOMO: You know, if your intention is to be clear --

LORD: Chris -- Chris --

CUOMO: Wait, hold on, Jeffrey, just don't --

LORD: Chris -- CUOMO: Stop repeating my name for a second. Just answer this question. Why do we keep having these situations where President Trump seems to shelter Russia from responsibility without benefit of fact, whether it was the hacking or now with this when he's being confronted with Putin's criticism as a moral agent, why does he keep protecting him?

LORD: He has said he may well not get along with him. I don't -- I mean he speaks in plain English.

CUOMO: That's hardly condemnation.

LORD: Oh, Chris, look, I think it is safe to say that as the new president of the United States, he is trying to give everybody that we have to deal with a clean slate, and that they are -- he's going to judge them based on their performance. That's what he's done his entire life. Why would he stop now?

CAMEROTA: Jeffrey, Ana, thank you very much for the debate. We'll see you both soon.

LORD: Thank you, Ali.

CUOMO: What about me?

CAMEROTA: President Trump spent a full two weeks in office. Is he delivering in his campaign promises? We'll look at how he's doing in "The Bottom Line," next.

CUOMO: How did you become the good guy? You jumped on him first.


[08:45:09] CAMEROTA: President Trump made a lot of promises, of course, on the campaign trail. So with 18 days now under his belt, is he delivering on them? Let's get "The Bottom Line" with CNN political director David Chalian.

OK, so, let's look at -- David, walk us through the -- his big campaign promises and where he is on them.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, as you said, this is the 18th day. We took a look at his biggest campaign promises. So you see the extreme vetting promise. Remember, that started initially as a Muslim ban and then it moved into this extreme vetting. We've seen the controversies around that, the executive action caught up in courts. Right now it is on hold. It also has a majority opposition in our latest poll, 53 percent opposed.

The border wall. He still is claiming Mexico will pay for it. The Mexican government says no. Also in our new poll, some 60 percent of Americans are opposed to that wall. So, again, an uphill climb on those top two promises.

And then Obamacare repeal and replace. He said that he was going to get Congress to repeal this on day one, go to them and have them do this. Now we're hearing that he's resetting expectations. That it's going to be all of this year, maybe into next year before replacement can actually be fully formed. You hear different language coming from Hill Republicans as well. And -- and it is going to be tricky since it is the number one promise over a series of six years now from Republicans to their base voters that this law was going to be removed when they got power. And now you're seeing Republicans face the reality --


CHALIAN: That something as large as our health care system is really complicated.

CAMEROTA: But don't you have to cut him some -- some slack on that? He did sign an executive order on day one, or certainly in the first week, about beginning the process of repealing Obamacare and he can't do that singlehandedly. Congress has to get in line on that one.

CHALIAN: Certainly. And Congress has passed legislation to deal with this in a certain fashion called reconciliation that allows them to deal with certain parts of repealing it with 50 votes instead of 60. So it's not that progress isn't being made, but it is just the promise of a full repeal and replace. It seems now that maybe portions will be repealed. Some portions will get replaced before there's a full fix in place. That wasn't quite the nuanced way of the campaign trail rhetoric.

CUOMO: Yes, repair seems to be the operative word. It's -- I think you're going to see all the main mechanisms stay in place. But, you know, we said -- I don't think the president deserves a break. I think he deserves credit. I mean can you think of another administration -- people may disagree with the moves, but I'm saying in terms of straight, one to one productivity of what you said you were going to do and what you did and when when you got in, I mean he has to be at the top in terms of productivity.

CHALIAN: And at a blistering pace. There's no doubt about it. And it clearly has been a focus inside his West Wing to tick through those campaign promises and show some strong action on them, of course, but it gets bound up, Chris, in these controversial ways of rolling it out. The executive order on the travel ban was not well communicated, created a lot of chaos in the system. That probably could have been avoided and perhaps even avoiding the length of the legal challenges.

On the wall, the same thing. That call with the leader of Mexico canceling the trip, that was not exactly how I think he envisioned enacting the campaign promise of getting the wall up and running. So, yes, he is ticking through a lot of things, but he's also dealing with crashing into the reality of Washington government. These things are not as easy as running a campaign or running a business when everything is just handled by your own declaration.

CAMEROTA: Truer words never spoken. David Chalian, thank you very much for "The Bottom Line."

CHALIAN: Thanks, guys. CUOMO: All right, did you see "Saturday Night Live" on Saturday night? A new member of the Trump administration gets spoofed. Do you know who that is? Wait until you hear what happened.





[08:51:36] CUOMO: What a night. The drama, the history, the Patriots did it again, a record comeback. You had Lady Gaga's performance much anticipated. How did it deliver? Oh, let's discuss.


CUOMO: We have CNN senior media correspondent and host of "Reliable Sources," Brian Stelter, and CNN media analyst Bill Carter.

You have news. You've got ratings. You've got stuff that the president is doing and that Sean Spicer is doing in reaction to "SNL." What do you have for us?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: So much going on this morning. Well, the overnight ratings for the Super Bowl show it was, of course, extraordinarily highly rated. It was like the number three Super Bowl in American television history. Almost as high as last year. Not quite. We'll get more numbers later in the day. But I think what this shows is, even if some folks tuned out after Lady Gaga thinking this was a blowout --


CAMEROTA: Like I did.

STELTER: They came back for overtime.

CARTER: Somebody called them and said tune the game in again (ph).


STELTER: Exactly. That's what I did. I was this close to bed after Lady Gaga, but I stayed tuned.


CARTER: Right.

STELTER: And, by the way, let's not forget, Lady Gaga, this was amazing.

CAMEROTA: Amazing.

STELTER: Talk about uniting the country.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my God. She was -- it was --

CARTER: It was very good.

CAMEROTA: She put on a spectacular.

CARTER: She did.

CAMEROTA: And she -- she danced, she sang beautifully.


CAMEROTA: She jumped off the high things.

CARTER: Right. Right. High things, right.

CAMEROTA: There was a question beforehand, Bill, about whether she would be political.


CAMEROTA: And how do you -- was she?

CARTER: Well, she wasn't overtly political.


CARTER: She was smart. I think she's very smart. She did a, you know, sort of a celebration of her "This Land is Your Land." She did --


CARTER: She -- and then she did her song, which has, you know, themes about acceptance for lesbians and transgender people. I don't think people probably heard the lyrics that clearly in that -- in that atmosphere, but she did get that message across. I think she did it very well. No controversy. Spectacular performance. She gets an A (INAUDIBLE).

STELTER: And, by the way, what did she do this morning, she announced her world tour, right? So she was big last night, patriotic performance, beautiful songs, very inclusive and then announces the world tour today.

CUOMO: All right, good for her.

CARTER: Marketing.

STELTER: It worked (ph).

CUOMO: So, "SNL." The last time we had you guys on, earlier this morning, we hadn't heard from the president yet, we hadn't heard from Sean Spicer yet. Both of those things have changed. What did the president react to? What was Spicer's reaction?

CAMEROTA: First, should we see what -- first should we see Sean Spicer on "SNL"?

CARTER: Yes, let's look again.

STELTER: Oh, we have to, right?

CAMEROTA: Let's watch.

CUOMO: All right, do the podium piece. The podium piece of Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer. You've got to see this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, ACTRESS, "SNL": "Wall Street Journal." Are you OK?


CAMEROTA: OK, I mean, first of all, Melissa McCarthy is a physical comedian par excellence.



CAMEROTA: And she is so good at that. What does Sean Spicer say about her depiction?

STELTER: So apparently Spicer, at the Super Bowl last night, told "Extra" it was a little bit exaggerated. He thought the gum chewing was too much. He thought McCarthy could have toned it down a little bit. No surprise, that reaction. But, you know, I think the challenge now, when you see Spicer, you see Melissa McCarthy. It was that on point.

CARTER: You remember that's what happened to Sarah Palin with Tina Fey. You couldn't separate them after that. I don't know how you separate Sean Spicer from this performance. He has to embrace it more. I think he has to sort of go with it and maybe make a joke himself about it because otherwise --

STELTER: It's a shame there's no briefing today. So there's no on camera briefing because POTUS is traveling.

CAMEROTA: Wait, that is a shame.

CARTER: Yes, that's a shame.

STELTER: But tomorrow there will be an on camera briefing.

CAMEROTA: OK, and let's see if --

CARTER: We've got to see that.

CAMEROTA: Tomorrow he comes out with a prop box ala this.

CARTER: That would be fantastic. STELTER: Or a super soaker.

CAMEROTA: Let's watch.

CUOMO: Super soaker.


MELISSA MCCARTHY, ACTRESS, "SNL": My words too big? I got to show you in pictures? Great. OK. Here we go. When it comes to these decisions, the Constitution gives our president lots of power. And Steve Bannon is the key adviser. OK. And our president will not be deterred in his fight against radical Muslims.


[08:55:28] CUOMO: I love how serious she was during the whole thing.


CUOMO: Now, they did a depiction, a parody. Obviously, of steve Bannon as the grim reaper with kind of like a Darth Vadery voice.


CUOMO: And the pitch of it was that Bannon is the over lord of Trump and is the real boss.

STELTER: Real president.

CUOMO: Trump had not responded. But now he has. What did he say?

STELTER: That's right, on Twitter this morning saying, no, I call the shots around here. Seemed to be a response to all this talk about Bannon being the real boss. Trump saying he's the real boss at the White House.

CARTER: Yes. Well, and -- you know, also "The New York Times" had this story about him sort of not knowing that Bannon was named to the --

CAMEROTA: To the NSC, yes.

CARTER: NSC, which is also just remarkable. You're sort of stunned by that. But the idea that he's sort of subservient to anybody I don't think sits well with him.

STELTER: I think Trump was also reacting to your program, Chris and Alisyn, talking about polls this morning. David Chalian was sharing the data --

CARTER: Right.

STELTER: About the travel ban. About how there's a slim majority of Americans that disapprove of the policy. Half an hour later, the president's tweeting about how he says all negative polls are fake news. CARTER: Are fake news.

STELTER: I know we're having fun here, but that's a really serious, really disturbing thing to say. You know, he's taking his poll denialism to the logical or illogical extreme saying, if the polls aren't favorable of me, they can't be real.

CARTER: Favorable to me, right.

CUOMO: He's also just -- he's just taking the teeth out of the criticism. You know, I think that if you catch the media being wrong about something and it regards you, you have high ground and you should go after it. That's part of politics.


CUOMO: But he -- they use it now for every hard question and every criticism that they don't like. And I think it makes its lose its teeth, doesn't it?

CARTER: Well, it does, because every time you say, well, you got this wrong and you got that wrong, it doesn't automatically mean this is wrong. And, frankly, saying the polls are all wrong, he lives by approval. He's the guy who defines ratings. Everything's about his ratings when he was on TV. How's he going to say now the ratings don't matter.

CAMEROTA: Bill, Brian, thank you very much for all of that. Great to see you.

Thanks so much for joining us. "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow and John Berman --

CUOMO: Oh, it's the big day.

CAMEROTA: Yes, it is a new day for them.

CUOMO: It's their first one. Berman's Patriots won and he gets to sit next to Poppy for the new news hour.

CAMEROTA: You've got to stick through the break to watch this.

CUOMO: What a lucky little man.