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Trump's National Security Advisor Under Fire; Powerful Winter Storm Slams New England; Hundreds Arrested in Immigration Raids Across U.S. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired February 13, 2017 - 07:00   ET


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: ... for you begins in moments. For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: General Flynn put the vice president in a very awkward position.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know about it. I haven't seen it. What report is that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he had that conversation and if he then lied about it, he needs to go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to get to the bottom of this.

STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR: The message we're sending to the world is strength and solidarity.

TRUMP: The United States of America stands behind Japan.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (R), NEW YORK: The real answer to curtailing North Korea is China.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Voter fraud is a serious problem.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: There's not a scintilla evidence. It's a lie.

MILLER: The president of the United States is correct 100 percent.

SCHUMER: The Supreme Court is our last refuge against the president who overreaches.

TRUMP: We're going to do whatever is necessary to keep our country safe.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. President Trump's embattled national security advisor is on thin ice. White House officials dodging opportunities to defend General Michael Flynn after he reportedly discussed sanctions with a Russian ambassador before President Trump took office.

CAMEROTA: Mr. Trump also facing his first foreign policy test after North Korea launched a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan. How will Mr. Trump respond to Kim Jong-un?

It is day 25 of the Trump presidency, and CNN's Joe Johns is live at the White House with the latest. Good morning, Joe.


Unsure footing here at the White House as this administration tries to slog its way through multiple controversies, including questions of confidence and trust involving one of the president's personal advisors who handles some of the most sensitive national information.


JOHNS (voice-over): President Trump's national security advisor, General Michael Flynn, under fire. The White House sidestepping questions about Flynn's future.

CHUCK TODD, NBC'S "MEET THE PRESS": Does the president still has confidence in his natural security advisor?

MILLER: That's a question that I think you should ask the president.

JOHNS: A U.S. official confirming that General Flynn did discuss U.S. sanctions with a Russian ambassador before Trump was sworn in. Contradicting denials made by Flynn himself and Vice President Mike Pence.

MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States' decision to expel diplomats or impose a sanction against Russia.

JOHNS: General Flynn on thin ice, despite Trump's refusal to address the firestorm.

TRUMP: I don't know about it. I haven't seen it. What report is that?

JOHNS: A senior administration official telling CNN Flynn has no plans to resign, nor does he expect to be fired.

President Trump facing another big test over the weekend: North Korea firing a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan, as the president met with Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, both leaders addressing the launch late Saturday night.

TRUMP: The United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent.

JOHNS: Meantime, the Trump administration is weighing their options on his suspended travel ban, which could include writing a new executive order. STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR: We can appeal the

emergency stay to the Supreme Court. We can take our case on bond to the next circuit. We can continue our appeal with the panel or we can return to the district court and have a trial on the merits. All options are on the table.

JOHNS: As fears grow in immigrant communities after hundreds of people in 11 states were arrested last week. This as a White House advisor reignites a conspiracy theory about voter fraud that has been repeatedly debunked without providing any evidence.

MILLER: There are massive numbers of non-citizens in this country who are registered to vote. That's the story we should be talking about, and I am prepared to go on any show, anywhere, any time and repeat it and say the president of the United States is correct 100 percent.


JOHNS: And today the president meets here at the White House with the Canadian prime minister. Among the topics of discussion, the North American Free Trade Agreement, which President Trump has said he wants to negotiate -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: I understand they'll also be talking about helping women in the work force so it will be interesting to listen to that conversation, as well. Joe, thank you very much.

Joining us now is Republican Congressman Scott Taylor from Virginia. He's a former Navy SEAL and an Iraq War veteran.

Good morning, Congressman.

REP. SCOTT TAYLOR (R), VIRGINIA: Good morning, Alisyn. How are you?

CAMEROTA: I'm doing well. Thank you. What do you think of what's going on with Michael Flynn as national security advisor?

TAYLOR: Well, I'm seeing the same reports you're seeing. I don't have any outside information. You know, certainly, some of it is concerning, and I think that the president will have to decide whether he continues to have confidence in General Flynn or not, and you know, that's up to them to decide.

CAMEROTA: If General Flynn did have a conversation with the Russian ambassador before President Trump was in the White House, should he be dismissed?

[07:05:03] TAYLOR: Well, it all depends. I mean, it depends on what he says, of course. I mean, you know, what did he say and what did he have the authority to say or not say; and what did he have the authority to say? And a couple of days later.

So I think it's not that black and white and clear. I was listening to a former national security advisor on another network yesterday saying basically the same thing. So I think it's not black and white. There's -- you know, I'm not privy to any inside information. So again, that's something that the White House will have to look into and decide if they continue to have confidence. If he was wrong or right or somewhere in between. That's up to them to decide.

CAMEROTA: Do you sense that there's some rift between Michael Flynn and the intelligence community?

TAYLOR: Sure. I mean, I think that there's some rift between some folks in the intelligence community. Some of the political appointees that are from the administration, of course. And then perhaps people who agree with them that are in there. And I think, you know, it's important for the president to have confidence and the top leadership of the intelligence community, as well, too. It's important for our nation. It's important for the national security of this country.

So I think they need to get on the same page very quickly if they're not on the same page now.

CAMEROTA: Yesterday -- I want to ask you about something that was said on Sunday shows. President Trump, one of his top advisors, Stephen Miller, went on the Sunday shows and claimed again, without providing any evidence, that there was vast voter fraud during those past presidential elections. Do you believe that?

TAYLOR: Well, I can see -- and I represent the 2nd District of Virginia, and I don't know. We don't have massive voter fraud. There's been some instances here, of course. And it's something that's important and should be important to everyone to look into, route out any potential voter fraud. But sure, I think it's important to show some evidence that -- for mass voter fraud. We all know it does exist, and we should certainly take precautions to keep the integrity of our elections in this country.

CAMEROTA: But do we all know that vast voter fraud exists?

TAYLOR: Well, that's what I just said. You know, I don't think that there's vast voter fraud, certainly not in Virginia. But there are some instances of voter fraud. And I don't think that, whether it's vast or not, that should stop us from taking every caution necessary to keep the integrity of our elections, because it's important for our country.

CAMEROTA: Sure. Agreed, and I don't think anybody would argue that it's something to look into. That's fine. Particularly if there's voter registration irregularities.

However, why do you think the White House -- I mean, since you don't know of any evidence of vast voter fraud, we in the media can't find any evidence so why do you think the White House keeps talking about it?

CAMEROTA: Sure, but you're saying isolated incidents. Isolated incidents.

TAYLOR: I wouldn't say it's isolated.

CAMEROTA: How many? TAYLOR: I wouldn't say it's isolated to the point to where we -- we're not going to look all throughout. Well, there was a study that only took into account I think it was 8 counties in Virginia, and there was a decent amount of voter fraud.

So again, you know, I'm not willing to say, you know, what he said on there on the air, of course, but sure, there are instances of voter fraud in Virginia, just on the eight counties that were studied. So again, we should take every precaution necessary across the whole country to make sure that we have integrity of the elections. I'm not going to get into what the numbers are and, you know, whose definition of massive or not. But again, I think that it's responsible for every state to be able to take precautions to have integrity in our elections.

CAMEROTA: Sure. And the vast majority of the state -- secretaries of state who help run these things say that there is no evidence of vast voter fraud in their state. And I think that there is a distinction between a handful of cases which you cite and which people do know about.

TAYLOR: No, don't put words in my mouth, Alisyn, please.

CAMEROTA: You tell me your numbers. I am trying to figure out the numbers, because I think you're citing the Old Dominion University. If you're citing the Old Dominion University study, they did not find vast voter fraud. They did not. If that's the study and the research that you're pointing out. They found, again, registration irregularities but not significant voter fraud.

TAYLOR: I'm not citing the ODU, I don't believe. I didn't -- I didn't know you were going to ask me this question, of course, which is fine. I'm more than prepared to answer any of those things. I don't have the exact study with me. But anybody can Google it online. There were eight counties that were studied in Virginia. It was more than a handful. It wasn't massive, but it was more than handfuls. So please don't put words in my mouth. I think, again, it is responsible and reasonable to make sure that we, of course, have integrity in our elections. I'm not -- I don't know of evidence of massive millions of voter fraud that I'm hearing out of the White House. Sure, I'd like to see it of course.

CAMEROTA: But is it responsible for the White House to be talking about...

TAYLOR: We've spent a lot of time on this question.

CAMEROTA: Well because it keeps coming up. Stephen Miller brought it up again this past weekend. Just when we thought that we had moved on he brought it up again. And so there is a disconnect between what you have provided and what you think is the experience in Virginia, we've been able to find and researchers have been able to find who've looked into it So it is curious that the White House keeps bringing it up.

[07:10:07] TAYLOR: All right. So let me -- let me bookend it. Sure, if he's on national television, saying there's evidence of massive millions of voter fraud, sure, he should show something. Absolutely.

CAMEROTA: Congressman, thank you very much. Let's talk about what's coming up for you a week from now. And you're having, I believe, your first town hall meeting. There have been some other town hall meetings in the past week that have run off the rails a bit. Here are some -- here's some video of this. This is Jason Chaffetz's town hall in Utah a few days ago. Some of your fellow Republicans, this is what they've confronted when they've held town-hall meetings in their home districts. Are you concerned that this might be what you find?

TAYLOR: Well, we've done -- we've already done a Facebook Live town hall, and we have three announced town halls all around my district. I'm not concerned of that. I'm really not. The only thing that would concern me, of course, is the safety of my people in there.

So some of those folks that are shouting down everybody, they're actually hurting folks that are on the other side from having a seat at the table, to have their views respected and listen, because that's what we want. I'm not concerned about some folks that are organizing like that. You know, we're going to continue to have town halls. We welcome everybody. I want to hear and listen to everyone's opinion and respect that. And I want them to have a seat at the table, because I think there's plenty of common ground to be able to work and move forward.

But protestors who are sort of thinking -- being anarchists, those trying to shout down people, that does nothing to help people out. So -- but that being said, no, I'm not concerned about it. We're going to continue to have town halls. It's important for me to get out there and listen to my people.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Scott Taylor, thank you very much for answering all of our questions and being here on NEW DAY.

TAYLOR: Any time, thank you.


CUOMO: All right. So New England is getting hammered by another winter storm. Schools in Boston closed again this morning. We have Jennifer meteorologist Jennifer Gray live in Boston. What is the status right now? What's the update for us?

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Chris, it is snowing steadily. The winds are expected to pick up, though, this afternoon. This is going to be the big story in Boston, because Boston can handle snowfall. We got about one to three inches yesterday during the overnight hours. We're expecting to get another inch or two for today.

We had some heavy, wet snow all day yesterday. This is all on the tree branches, the power lines when you have winds of 30 to 40 miles per hour a little bit later this afternoon. The potential for power outages will be there. We were talking to some of the crews plowing. They have been plowing consistently overnight. And now out there again today they're pulling double duty, saying they're having to clear trees, as well. They had trees down last night. So that's going to be the big concern moving forward.

Of course, in Maine, that's the big bulls eye. That's where we're going to get possibly a foot of snowfall throughout the day today and blizzard-like conditions. Of course, with winds howling at 40 and 50 miles per hour. We could even see blizzard-like conditions in areas around Boston -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Yes, he wind is already picking up here in New York, as well. Thank you very much, Jennifer, for all of that.

So we're following some breaking news out of Yuba (ph), California, where nearly 200,000 people face evacuation orders near the Oroville Dam. This is the nation's tallest dam. And this is because what you saw on your screen there, there again, there's that damage to the dam right there. There's a big hole. It's an emergency spillway that is increasing. This morning the Butte County sheriff says the damage may not be as bad as officials originally thought. The spillway does that hole in it, but it is not eroding as fast as they believed it would. Officials plan to use helicopters to drop boulders to close that hole.

CUOMO: We'll have a live report in the next hour. We're hustling somebody up there to monitor those, because that could be a massive situation. Or they'll figure out a solution, and you need to now that, as well.

President Trump is defending the federal raids that have been going on by ICE. They're going around; they're arresting people, they say, for violations of immigration law. Hundreds have been arrested around the country. What are community leaders telling people who may be affected. We're going to talk to a congressman near the border, next.


[07:18:07] CUOMO: President Trump defending immigration raids resulting in hundreds of arrests of undocumented immigrants last week, the president tweeting yesterday, quote, "The crackdown on illegal immigrants, illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise. Gang members, drug dealers and others are being removed."

Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar from Texas.

You know the border situation very well. Do you have any problem with continuing raids by ICE that round up people who break the law?

REP. HENRY CUELLAR (D), TEXAS: Well, again, if we're focusing on those priority cases, the criminals, just like President Obama has done, of course, I support that. We don't want to have any criminals here.

The question is I did listen to the White House yesterday. They danced around and never said it was only a focus on people that have committed felonies here in the United States. He never said that, or at least the administration never said that yesterday.

CUOMO: What we heard, Congressman, from the ICE officials who were doing the raid, is one, these were already planned several weeks ago, so some predating this new administration in terms of who deserves blame for the raids.

Secondly that they are all people who violated immigration law. Even if it's not a violent felony, although they did include violent felonies in their analysis of who they are picking up, if you break the law, aren't you supposed to be picked up and taken out of the country?

CUELLAR: Yes. I can say, I believe it's a 1950s law. It's an immigration law that says the moment you come over, there is a violation. It's a misdemeanor, and we know that that law exists.

But again, with the resources that we have, I think the resources should focus on those violent criminals that have violated the law here and should be rounded up. I mean, that's what President Obama did, and I think this is something that almost everybody does support.

[07:20:07] CUOMO: Now, you understand the reality of life down there along the border in Texas and different remote parts very well. What do you think about a wall? Do you think it would keep us safer? Costs aside. Because you guys in governments do a lot of things that are really expensive for the taxpayers. Do you think this would make a real difference?

CUELLAR: Well, first of all, you've got to understand the geography. There are mountains and rivers and a lot of natural boundaries that we have right now that it's going to make it very difficult to put a fence or a wall.

Second of all, in Texas most of the private property that we have on the southwest border is in the state of Texas and private property, there will be lawsuits that will delay the building of any fence. I think the best way would be if we had some sort of strategic fencing, if you look at electronics, you know, surveillance, other things we've been using in the past and more personal and working to our neighbors to the south, because we keep spending millions of dollars on the one- yard-line called the U.S. border. We need to extend it to the 20- yard-line and work with those friends across the border.

CUOMO: You know, part of the criticism that's going on here of your party, the Democrats, is that you guys want to leave everybody alone in here. You believe that if they make it here, they should get a fresh start. And the GOP, and specifically President Trump, is playing that to advantage.

Do you agree with this? The notion that you don't want to people -- you don't want to kick people out just for being undocumented. That they have to commit a violent crime.

CUELLAR: Well, you know, there are some Democrats that believe in -- I don't. I don't believe in catch and release. I believe that you have to have some deterrents. So, if you're talking about catch and release, the moment beneath -- sort of like a wet foot, dry foot for the Cubans. But then it applies for everybody else. No, I don't believe in that. I think we need to make sure we don't have catch and release. I'd be finding more immigration judges. In fact, we had 55 new immigration judges that are about to be higher and we have another 25. We need to have immigration judges so people can have their cases heard as soon as possible and not two or and they can have the new process in court.

CUOMO: So let me ask you something else while I have you hear. What's going on with Michael Flynn. The idea that he was talking about sanctions with his Russian counter parts before Trump actually took office, and Flynn was actually installed as an intel official. Do you care?

CUELLAR: Of course, because you can only have one president at a time. At that time, it was President Barack Obama. And he should have not been talking about this type of situation.

You know and then the other thing is did he lie to the vice president? Did he lie to other people? Because it looks like some of the administration relied on what he said and apparently, it looks like that's not the case. So yes, I certainly have a serious concern about having that type of conversation sanctioned before President Trump came into office.

CUOMO: Do you think it's worthy of removal? I mean, as you well know, when people come in, there's a lot of overlap when you're in transition about people starting to do the work of government and making their contacts and talking to people. The Logan Law, as you know, is a very arcane, only used once law from the 1700s. How much trouble do you think you should make over this?

CUELLAR: Well, you know, first of all, I think we need to find out exactly what he said. So I mean, I do have a concern and I think, you know, we should have him, you know, come before a committee and be able to answer some questions which I doubt that he'll show up or that the Republicans will call him.

So first let's find out, because it looks like the transfers are contrary to what he said. And then second of all, I think that it's more of the White House should be very concerned if one of their individuals is not telling the truth. And certainly, I think the vice president and other folks should be in a very difficult situation if somebody lied to them.

CUOMO: Well, the good news is, in terms of finding out what happened, there are transcripts. We know from multiple sources now that the communications were being monitored. It would be helpful to this conversation if those transcripts could come out. And anything you can do to make that happen would be appreciated.

Congressman, thank you for being with us. Please keep us apprised of the situation down there, as well.

CUELLAR: Thank you so much.

CUOMO: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: President Trump and his team continue to claim that voter fraud in this past election without presenting any evidence.

[06:20:00] So up next we're going to get the evidence. We talk to one of the researchers behind one of the big studies to get the facts.


CAMEROTA: President Trump who the election, but that is not stopping him or his top advisors from repeating their claim that millions of people voted illegally without any evidence. The administration's latest claim is that buses full of voters from Massachusetts were brought into New Hampshire to sway the election there. Listen.


MILLER: Go to New Hampshire and talk to anybody who worked in politics there for a long time, everybody is aware of the problem in New Hampshire, with respect to...

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: I'm asking you, as the White House senior policy advisor, the president made a statement saying he was the victim of voter fraud...

MILLER: The president was.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you have any evidence?

MILLER: Is this is an issue that interests you, then we can talk about it more.

(end video clip)

CAMEROTA: All right. Let's get the facts now from Michael Harris. He's a professor of government at Dartmouth University. He conducted a study on the president's claims of voter fraud. We also have John Reberg (ph) here. He's a writer at Politifact, that has looked at this, as well.

Professor Harris, let me start with you. Can you just give us the research. You did the research through Dartmouth of whether or not the president and his team's claims of vast voter fraud is true. What did you find?