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House GOP Leaders Call for Leaks Investigation; Trump White House Wrestles with Chaotic First Month. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired February 16, 2017 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is serious. This is not just the game of watching Donald Trump.
CUOMO: Probably ultimately unhealthy. The soft science is that kind of talk that you're talking about. Stick with the facts, show what he does and what he doesn't do. People will decide.
[07:00:15] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't even stick with one thing. There's a new thing every moment.
CUOMO: Stick with us. We'll get to all of it.
CAMEROTA: Thank you. And thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" is next. For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Documents and papers that were illegally -- I stress that -- illegally leaked.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: The president is flirting with danger.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: There is going to be a bipartisan investigation.
TRUMP: People attempt to cover up for a terrible loss Democrats had under Hillary Clinton.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to get to the bottom of these activities.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are so many aspects of Andrew Puzder's record that are concerning.
MANU RAJU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Puzder withdrew the nomination to be labor secretary.
CAMEROTA: Are other cabinet nominees in trouble?
TRUMP: I'm looking at two-state and one-state.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Like you, Mr. President, I think that if we work together, we have a shot.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Up first, two House Republicans are asking the Justice Department's inspector general to investigate leaks of classified information following the firing of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
CAMEROTA: The president defending the man that he ousted, calling him, quote, "wonderful" and saying that Flynn was treated very unfairly by the media. There's another high-profile exit from Mr. Trump's cabinet. All this as the president is breaking with decades of U.S. foreign policy on the Middle East.
We are in day 28 of the Trump presidency. Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Joe Johns. He is live at the White House.
Good morning, Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. Just so much has happened. They're looking for a new labor secretary this morning, as well as looking to settle on the name of a new national security adviser. It's been a brutal week for this new administration and it's not over yet.
TRUMP: General Flynn is a wonderful man. I think he's been treated very, very unfairly by the media. As I call it, the fake media in many cases.
JOHNS (voice-over): President Trump defending the man he just fired, national security advisor Michael Flynn, and slamming the intelligence leaks that exposed Flynn's lies to Vice President Pence about his communications with a Russian ambassador.
TRUMP: I think it's very, very unfair what's happened to General Flynn, the way he was treated, and the documents and papers that were illegally -- I stress that, illegally -- leaked.
JOHNS: One crisis after another frustrating the president's own party and now threatening to affect their agenda.
MCCAIN: Of course I'm concerned. All of us should be concerned.
JOHNS: But some Republicans are towing the president's line, showing more interest in the legality of the leaks rather than Flynn's ties to Russia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to find out who the leaking moles are.
JOHNS: The chairs of the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees both demanding the inspector general launch, quote, "an immediate investigation into whether classified information was mishandled."
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: The Senate Intelligence Committee is undergoing -- we met again yesterday. There's going to be a bipartisan investigation. All of this is going to be in the context of that. And we're looking for facts; and we're looking for evidence; and we're looking for details.
JOHNS: Meanwhile, a small bipartisan group of the Senate Judiciary Committee is calling for an expanded investigation, asking the Department of Justice and the FBI for a briefing and the release of transcripts of Flynn's conversations with Russia, as Democrats call for a larger independent investigation.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: The American people have a right to know.
JOHNS: But key Republicans continue to resist.
MCCAIN: On the Flynn issue, I think that we need to ask questions first and find out what is the scope of that before the investigation needs to be expanded.
JOHNS: The turmoil over Flynn's resignation also overshadowing the high-profile visit from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
JOHNS: The president breaking with decades of U.S. foreign policy, abandoning a two-state solution to Middle East peace. Mr. Trump no longer insisting on the creation of a Palestinian state and making clear he isn't giving Netanyahu a blank check.
TRUMP: As with any successful negotiation, both sides will have to make compromises. You know that, right?
JOHNS: And in yet another blow for the Trump White House, the president's embattled pick for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, withdrawing his nomination, a day before he was set to get a Senate hearing, over eroding support and because of his business record and personal character issues.
JOHNS: On top of all this, we're still waiting to hear the extent of which the administration will revise or rewrite the controversial travel ban that so far has been tied up in the courts. The president today holds a listening session with members of Congress -- Chris and Alisyn.
[07:05:06] CUOMO: Joe, appreciate it.
Joining us now is Republican Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio. He's the founding chairman of the House Freedom Caucus. We've got important stuff to talk about, about the potential future for healthcare. And then we have the news of the moment. The president putting out word that he believes that Michael Flynn is a wonderful man and that it was the media treating him unfairly. He just fired this man, compelled his resignation.
Does this tape by the president concern you about what you still don't know about that situation?
REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: Well, Chris, a couple things. One, staff can't mislead people they work for. So I understand that and why Mr. Flynn was -- is no longer working at the White House. I get that.
Second, let's let the Intelligence Committee do their work, get the initial facts out there. If further investigation is warranted, then we'll do it at the Oversight Committee. And I'm open to that. Certainly supportive of that is that's what the facts point to. No one's ever accused me on not being tough on my own party. So let's do that, but let's also as they said yesterday let's also look at this leak issue. Let's get all the information for the American people. But let's start first with the Intelligence Committee. They're the ones with jurisdiction. And let's get the facts from them and then we can proceed.
CUOMO: Now part of the facts here already need to be highlighted because there is political speculation going on on the side of let's look at the leaks. He keeps putting out that why was Michael Flynn wiretapped?
We do not know that Michael Flynn was wiretapped. But it keeps being said by people who want this investigations into the leaks, and it deserves to be called out.
Also what deserves to be called out and I'm interesting to see if you agree with this. You want to look at the leaks, Jason Chaffetz, but you do not want to look at the underlying substance that lead to the leaks.
JORDAN: No. I'm open to all of that, but let's proceed in a deliberative way here. Let's let the intelligence committees get the fact. If, in fact, then the Oversight Committee wants to do more, I'm willing to do that. Like I said before, we certainly did that in the last administration, and I've never been one who's been accused of not being tough on our own party. You can ask former Speaker Boehner about disagreements we had. So I'm willing to do that.
But let's proceed in a deliberative manner to get the facts from the American people, including how this leak happened. How classified information was given to the press. How that is out there and as you point out the wiretap and everything, what was behind all that, as well.
CUOMO: I don't know if there was a wiretap. We've always had leaks and that's not something that's new and certainly this president...
JORDAN: Just because we always had it doesn't make it right.
CUOMO: That's true, but...
JORDAN: Let's get to the bottom of it.
CUOMO: Politicians are way too selective on when they are outraged about it.
JORDAN: I'm not.
CUOMO: You had a president who celebrated WikiLeaks, mentioned him as much as he could. Now he's got a problem with leaks. But that's politics. You said let's do this in an all deliberative fashion. But Benghazi, you accomplished half a dozen probes by five different committees. The formation of a select House committee, 33 hearings, $7 million on Benghazi. This -- you want to take it?
JORDAN: Yes, there was -- that was after the Intel Committee, the Foreign Services Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee. The Oversight Committee had hearings for a long, long time before Speaker Boehner called for the select committee. It was years after.
So we did the deliberative process. But when you get to a point where Ben Rhodes is misleading the American people, and we know Secretary Clinton misled the American people, that's what warranted calling for the select committee.
CUOMO: And you know that the White House is saying that there was misleading facts here. You have the president who's blaming the media for a firing that, by all accounts from inside his own staff, he was behind. You have just as many discrepancies of fact here. You have, arguably, as broad or broader implications of national security...
JORDAN: And Chris...
CUOMO: ... when you don't seem as urgent about it.
JORDAN: And Chris, no. I'm going to take the same approach we took with the example you brought up in the Benghazi affair. We're going to take the same approach. Let the standing committee begin to do the work. Let's get the facts. If the Oversight Committee needs more work, we'll do that. If at some point there's a requirement, or it looks like a select committee, I'm open to that, as well. But let's proceed in the same manner we did for that situation.
CUOMO: Which was that when you started to sniff out that there was political resistance to getting to what you saw as the truth, you blew it up and went to a bigger situation. Here, we already have Rand Paul, who holds himself out as an independent spirit among Republican- inclined people. And he says can't waste time having Republicans investigate Republicans. You guys are in control of all of these committees.
The idea that it would be done divorced from partisanship is hard to see, given the lack of curiosity from Republicans about the Flynn situation thus far.
JORDAN: There's not a lack of curiosity on my part. And as I've said many times, I'm willing to look at the facts, and if it means sometimes going against your own party, I'm willing to do that. But let's do this in the right way the American people deserve. Let's get all the facts on both. What happened, the underlying situation with Mr. Flynn and on the leak situation, as well.
[07:10:10] CUOMO: But I'm saying we just haven't seen the political capital being expended here that would give confidence that you guys want to do it. I had Chris Collins on here to explain away your leadership, being absent about the Flynn resignation, saying they have Valentine's Day breakfast with their spouses. Now of course, he was joking, but it's because the whole thing was a joke. Nobody said anything, because this was a president and they're still in the same party.
JORDAN: I'm not viewing it as a vote. I'm viewing it as a very serious issue, both what happened with the communications and the leak itself. And I think we should get to the bottom of it and proceed in a straightforward fashion and if further investigation is warranted and the select committee is warranted, I'm open to that, as well, but let's proceed like we should and get the truth.
CUOMO: Should the transcript be put out?
JORDAN: I'm open to that, too. Let's see, but I mean, again, we want to make sure that it's put out in the right way and redacted if there's serious classified information there. So I'm open to that, as well, but let's proceed through this in deliberative fashion. Let's get to the truth on all accounts.
CUOMO: Now, as we segued into talking about, Obamacare, because I'll take you at your word about how we proceed on Michael Flynn. We'll see what you guys do and don't do. And we'll take the scrutiny from there.
But look at what we're talking about right now. The president may say the media developed this. We both know that's not true on the face of the facts. This is about what Michael Flynn did, how it was dealt with within the White House; and how it became exposed.
But we're not talking about getting people jobs, about a tax agenda and about all the things that were supposed to be done that, frankly, waved in the Trump presidency. So how much of a distraction is this coming from the White House?
JORDAN: Chris, we talked about it yesterday. We had a press conference where the House Freedom Caucus, conservatives in the House and Senate, unveiled what we think should happen to Obamacare, repeal it and replace it.
CUOMO: But it's not prominent dialogue coming out of the White House. That's my point.
JORDAN: Well, that's because you guys are talking about the Flynn situation. We could just as well be talking about what we did yesterday, which was this press conference on a key issue. One that the American people elected us to do: repeal a law that's a complete disaster, where the American people were repeatedly lied to about what this law was going to do. Like your plan, keep your plan. Like your doctor, keep your doctor. Premiums will decline. Premiums will decline $2,500. Deductibles will decline. Web site will work, web site's secure. Emergency room visits will decline. They actually went up.
We were also told those co-ops that were formed were going to be wonderful. Eighteen of those 23 co-ops have already went bankrupt.
Everything they were told about this law was a lie.
JORDAN: And now we've come forward with a plan to repeal it, the past the same legislation we passed a year and a half ago, put that on President Trump's death, just like we put on President Obama's desk. And then the plan that Senator Paul and Senator Sanford put forward, which is free market and patient-centered healthcare that will actually lower costs for all families, that's what we want to put in place. That's what we had a press conference on yesterday. So we could be talking about that versus what you want to talk about.
CUOMO: Well, I want to talk about it as a qualification, because it's a matter of national security. Because if you flipped parties in this situation, and you had a Russian spy ship off the coast, you had them buzzing a U.S. Navy ship, you had them launching a missile, and the president of the United States as a Democrat said nothing, you'd be going nuts.
And on top of that, we had what Mike Flynn did. Misled the vice president about it. Was kept out of the loop. There are plenty of questions, but let's stick to this issue, because it does matter to the American people.
There is a report out there that says if you repeal the things you need to, to put in the plan you want to, you're going to have your own cost overrun issues. Estimates go anywhere from about 20 to 25 percent of premium increases. Because you're removing a lot of revenue mechanisms. How are you going to keep costs down in your new iteration of health care for Americans?
JORDAN: Chris, we want a marketplace to form again. Right now, there's been so many communities across this country, and there's only one insurer in the Obamacare exchange. We want a marketplace to form again.
The only way you can do that is to repeal all of Obamacare and then put in place the kind of insurance market that will actually bring down costs. Right now we don't have a market out there.
CUOMO: What does that mean?
JORDAN: Every other industry, whether you encourage health savings accounts. You allow interstate shopping for insurance. You would allow, actually, plans that are much more high-deductible plans that don't have all the mandated coverages in them, so that certain people can shop for the kind of plan that...
CUOMO: Health savings accounts, that made plans cheaper; and high deductibles are what you're trying to avoid.
JORDAN: Well, not high deductibles. I mean -- I mean a catastrophic plan. But you put it in a market that will allow those kind of things to happen. That's what's going to bring down costs. Right now there are so much mandated coverage in every single plan. Some people don't need all the coverage at this time, but they have to buy a plan that drives up the cost.
CUOMO: Pre-existing conditions weren't getting covered. Caps were closing people out of treatment that they needed. Those protections, those protections are not just popular. They were important.
[07:15:00] JORDAN: They are important, and they are part of the plan that Mr. Stanford and Mr. -- Senator Brock brought forward. We say it in a responsible way. If you had insurance you can't get kicked off. But you can't wait and say, "I've never had insurance," and then something bad happens to your family.
And oh now, you have to ensure me? That's not going to work either. That drives up the cost for all family. So our plan says if you've been responsible, you can't get kicked off and there's no lifetime caps on the coverage you can get if you had insurance and you maintain insurance.
CUOMO: But that's going to be a tricky opposition to sell people about when you become sick and you need something, maybe you can't get it because of your previous choices.
But I get you. I get you. These are complex questions. We're going to have to talk them all out. And to your point, to start this interview, it deserves attention. You will get more time on NEW DAY to discuss this conversation than you will anywhere else. I promise you that.
JORDAN: I look forward to it.
CUOMO: All right, Jim, thank you very much. As we get more details, please Congressman, come back on. Let's hash this out.
JORDAN: You bet.
CAMEROTA: Are you giving away lunches?
CUOMO: Not to you. Got to give to get.
CAMEROTA: Exactly. Unless it's a set (ph).
CUOMO: One white apple. You're all taken.
CAMEROTA: I do like a free lunch.
Democrats demanding answers about Michael Flynn's communications with a Russian ambassador before President Trump took office. Some lawmakers think there's more here than meets the eye. A member of the Judiciary Committee tells us what they are looking at next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [07:20:14] TRUMP: Michael Flynn, General Flynn is a wonderful man. I think he's been treated very, very unfairly by the media. As I call it, the fake media in many cases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: That was President Trump defending the man that he fired as his national security adviser for the Senate Judiciary Committee is asking the FBI and Justice Department to brief them on Michael Flynn's contacts with Russia and the release of transcripts of those communications.
Let's bring in a member of that committee, Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. He's also the vice chair from the Senate Select Committee on Ethics.
Senator, good morning.
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Good morning, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: What's the bigger deal? Michael Flynn's contact with the Russian ambassador or the leaks that told the media about it from the intel community?
COONS: Well, the credible allegations that the Trump campaign at the highest levels was in regular contact with Russian intelligence are the big deal here. And it's striking that President Trump is now criticizing what he calls the fake media for having attacked the man he just fired. A man he fired from lying to him. Or to be more concise, a man he fired weeks after he knew he lied to him but only fired him after it became clear in the press that he had lied to the vice president and, implicitly, the president.
I'm encouraged the Senate Judiciary Committee on a bipartisan basis is going ahead to find out exactly what's behind General Flynn's contacts with Russian intelligence.
CAMEROTA: Let's talk about that, because I know that you all had an emergency -- Senate Democrats had an emergency meeting to try to figure out what to do about this. Your Republican colleagues don't seem that inclined, some of them, in the House to investigate the substance of the allegations of the connections between the Trump team and Russia. They're more interested in figuring out who's leaking. So what do you do as a Democrat?
COONS: That's right, Alisyn. As you just heard in the previous interview, you've got House committee leaders who found the time to have 12, 14 hearings into the incidents in Benghazi but don't seem interested at all in a Russian attack on our democracy, through a concerted campaign of contacting the Trump campaign, getting and leaking information from the Clinton campaign and directly undermining our democracy. That's very concerning. In the Senate, I am hopeful that the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is proceeding on a bipartisan basis, will get access to all the relevant information. All the recordings of conversations and e-mails and move forward to thoroughly investigate this. I'm on the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Foreign Relations
Committee. Both of which have Republican chairs who have indicated a willingness to pursue this issue where it goes, in the interests of national security. And defending our constitutional order, and I'm encouraged by that.
CAMEROTA: You know, we understand from the media that the people who have seen the transcripts think that there sort of inclusive, that there isn't a smoking gun, that you don't hear Michael Flynn say, yes, when we get into the White House we will ease sanctions. It's just not that unequivocal. It's not that clear. So if it's something vague like the Russian ambassador says, you know, we want to talk about sanctions, then we'll get to that, then where do you go?
COONS: I think Michael Flynn ought to be called in front of committees in Congress. Frankly, there's a lot of information here. There's a lot of e-mails and conversations, and I'm not going to comment on the specifics of the transcripts that you're referring to. I think there's a lot to look at here. And I think it's important that we proceed in a deliberate thorough way. That's why I think it's important that Flynn testify.
CAMEROTA: You sound like you know something. Have you seen some transcripts?
COONS: I haven't seen the transcripts.
CAMEROTA: You've heard about the transcripts.
COONS: I think it's important that we have General Flynn testify, because there's a lot of information here, Alisyn, and I think it's misleading for folks to cite just one transcript, one conversation, and the fact there's a large body of data here.
CAMEROTA: OK, so what does that mean? So if there's a large body of data, connect the dots for me. The Trump administration's relationship with Russia is what?
COONS: Well, that's exactly the question we need to get to the bottom of. It's interesting and important here. Not just what the current Trump administration relationship with Russia is and will be and whether that complicates our national security but what relationship the Trump campaign had with senior levels of the Russian government and Russian intelligence officials.
It's publicly reported in many sources that four senior Trump campaign officials were already under investigation by the FBI. And I think we need to let that investigation go where it goes, and we then need to make sure on a bipartisan basis in Congress that, whatever complicating relationship President Trump may have with Prussia does not impact our national security.
[07:25:07] So I was encouraged that a bipartisan bill that's called restraining Russia's aggression, Senate Bill 94, now has 20 co- sponsors. Both Republicans and Democrats, including Republicans and Democrats in leadership. And it is a show of bipartisan concern about complicated relationships between President Trump and Russia. Certainly, one of the areas throughout the course of the campaign and in the first few weeks of this tumultuous Trump administration that have caused real concern for our allies in Europe is Mr. Trump's puzzling and repeated statements of praise for Vladimir Putin, who is a thug and an autocrat who's murdered journalists and his political opponents and invaded neighboring countries and, we now know, sought to undermine our democracy correctly.
CAMEROTA: So why doesn't Congressman Jason Chaffetz want to look into it?
COONS: That's a striking -- that's a great question, Alisyn. And I think that President Trump, rather than attacking the real news such as CNN and rather trying to change the subject to who did or didn't leak what should be calling on his allies in Congress to fully investigate this matter. President Trump and Vice President Pence ought to be coming clean in directly addressing this matter, so that we can all move on or so that it can be appropriately resolved and addressed.
CAMEROTA: Senator Chris Coons, please come back when you have any more information to share with us.
COONS: Thank you, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Thanks for being on NEW DAY -- Chris.
CUOMO: It's interesting. It's so fact-sensitive, and yes, we need the urgency to get those facts. President Trump tweeting about leaks again, but not about what we've learned about the ties to Russia. Is he focusing on the wrong thing?
We discuss what might be going on strategically, ahead.