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FBI Not Expected to File Charges Against Flynn; Fact-checking President Trump's News Conference; NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans; Trump Blasts Media Coverage of His Presidency; Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired February 17, 2017 - 06:30   ET


[06:31:44] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The FBI still reviewing former National Security adviser Michael Flynn's communications with Russia, but law enforcement officials say that the ousted adviser is not expected to face charges unless new info comes to light.

CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown is live in Washington with more. What have you learned, Pamela?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, we've learned that Michael Flynn initially told FBI investigators last month that sanctions were not discussed with Russia's ambassador but then FBI agents challenged him, asking if he was certain that was his answer and then he said he didn't remember when he was pressed by the FBI.

Now the FBI does not believe he was intentionally misleading them according to officials and is not expected to pursue any charges against Flynn, as you point out barring new information that changes what they know, law enforcement officials say.

Now a U.S. official confirmed to CNN last week that Flynn and the ambassador did discuss sanctions among other matters during that December call and then Flynn as we know was fired by President Trump earlier this week after it was revealed that he withheld information from Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Russia's ambassador to the U.S.

Then acting Attorney General Sally Yates delayed notifying the White House until after Flynn was interviewed and FBI director James Comey did not object at that time, but there is still an ongoing broader FBI review of Flynn and Russia related dealings. Republicans in the House now appearing to be warming to investigating the full scope of the allegations of Flynn's Russia dealings. This as Flynn's former position of National Security adviser to the president is still open after retired Vice Admiral Bob Harward turned down the job citing family and financial reasons -- Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Pamela. Thank you very much.

President Trump missing the mark with a claim about his electoral college win. Up next, there are lots of instances of this. We're going to separate fact from fiction from the president's news conference. We'll get plenty of yap about how people feel about what happened yesterday. What is true? We'll deal with that next.


[06:37:24] CUOMO: All right. President Trump made a lot of claims in his hastily planned news conference. One of the exchanges got to what the heart of the allegation of fake is all about. When President Trump says that more often than not it means he doesn't like something.

Here's a case in point played out in real time. You've got NBC's Pete Alexander. He is a respected reporter and he called the president out on one of his claims. Watch what happened.


PETE ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS: You said today that you have the biggest electoral margin since Ronald Reagan with 304 or 306 electoral votes. In fact, President Obama got 365.


ALEXANDER: President Obama, 365.


ALEXANDER: And George H.W. Bush 426 when he won as president. So why should Americans trust you --

TRUMP: Well, no, I was -- I was given that information. I don't know. I was just given.


CUOMO: All right. So what is the truth? The truth is the president is wrong. He hasn't had the biggest electoral victory since Ronald Reagan. You heard there Pete point out, George H.W. Bush 426 in 1988.

Is it a big deal that he was wrong? Well, that's up to you but it certainly isn't fake to call him out on it and there are other issues of this that need to be addressed. It's not about how you feel about his style. It's about what is true, what is not. Let's keep it real.

Let's bring in Jon Greenburg, staff writer at PolitiFact to tell us what is fact and what isn't.

Jon, appreciate the quick turnaround on this. Let's start with an easy one. All right? The Clinton debates. This is a big piece of ammunition for Trump supporters certainly against CNN. The claim is that Hillary Clinton got debate questions from CNN. Here's the allegation.


TRUMP: They're giving stuff, what was said in an office, about Hillary cheating on the debates, which by the way nobody mentions. Nobody mentions that Hillary received the questions to the debates.


CUOMO: Here are the facts. Jon, you tell me if I'm wrong because I lived this situation. There were no debate questions given. He is talking about a town hall, not a debate. There was one question given. It was by Donna Brazile. It was not done by a reporter at CNN. It had nothing to do with the team that works on those special events. I've worked with them. They are the highest integrity. And Brazile paid the price for that. What is your take on it?

JON GREENBERG, STAFF WRITER, POLITIFACT: That's precisely what we found. Although we did find that there were two instances where somebody gave her the topic of question one involved the -- whether states should allow the death penalty and the other involved the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

[06:40:07] But, you know, the fact of the matter is that as you rightly point out there was enormous coverage of this. Donna Brazile had to step down from being an associate of CNN as an analyst and the reality is it was two topics that were brought up. Not a whole list of questions, so this for us was rated mostly false when it came up during the campaign.

CUOMO: I was even more forgiving. We gave it a not quite. And the reason I didn't name the other instance is because that involves somebody who had nothing to do with CNN at all. I was just sticking to what you could put on us even within the realm of possibility.

All right. Clinton on uranium. OK. This is what the president makes as an allegation.


TRUMP: Nobody talks about that. I didn't do anything for Russia. I've done nothing for Russia. Hillary Clinton gave him 20 percent of our uranium.


CUOMO: All right. Hillary Clinton gave them 20 percent of the U.S. uranium. Now a little bit of context as to why this is false is this is a little bit of a discreet point but it goes to not inventory of uranium but capacity of uranium, and that's why it is easy to flag this as a false statement. But there's a more important reason. The real heart of the allegation, the unsupported proof in this accusation is that Clinton did this. What is your take on that notion?

GREENBERG: The actual process was that nine federal agencies needed to sign off on this. I mean, essentially what you have is a Russian state owned company buying a controlling share in a Canadian based uranium company and because that Canadian company had assets in the United States then it was subject to approval, but there were nine agencies that needed to sign off and the only person who could actually kill the deal technically was President Obama. So it really doesn't fit with the way the process plays out to put it all on her.

CUOMO: OK. Now last one, again, a little bit tricky. The mood of the business world. Markets are up. Absolutely, no question about that. Here's what the president said.


TRUMP: The stock market has hit record numbers as you know and there has been a tremendous surge of optimism in the business world which is to me means something much different than it used to, it used to mean, oh that's good. Now it means that's good for jobs.


CUOMO: Now you have one relative assessment which is he said he inherited a mess here and he's turned it around so quickly. If you compare -- you can go online, look this up for yourself -- and see what the economic conditions were when Obama took over in that depth of that trough of the recession and now this situation looks like a gift. But what do you make of the claim that the stock market rise shows that this is the Trump effect.

GREENBERG: Well, there's a measure of truth in this because the investment community certainly looked at a Trump administration as being much more favorable to the things that matter to them in terms of taxes and in terms of regulation, so a lot of the people that we talked to said yes, people were much more upbeat and in fact, of course, the Republicans held on to the entirety of Congress.

You are quite right to point out that the economic momentum was going very nicely throughout the last year of the Obama administration and so Mr. Trump did inherit something that was going in the right direction. Can't take full credit for it but people did respond to his victory.

CUOMO: Jon Greenberg, thank you very much. Appreciate the help from PolitiFact as always.

Alisyn, as you like to point out, this president has met with more business leaders than we've seen this pace early on. He's got an ambitious tax agenda to make up the gap for a lot of people who haven't shared in the economic prosperity that's come along with the stock market, but all of this fighting about what's fake and these distractions have kept his own agenda on hold.

CAMEROTA: Well, Chris, we will get into all of that because President Trump at his explosive news conference is what we'll be talking about next. Our media experts are going to take us through the most remarkable moments.


[06:46:55] CAMEROTA: Basketball's greatest stars will be in New Orleans this weekend for the NBA All-Star Game.

Andy Scholes is just a dedicated reporter. He is already ready for all the action on Bourbon Street.

Looks like a fun assignment, Andy. ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Definitely is, Alisyn. It's

all quite right now on Bourbon Street but that will definitely not be the case later tonight. As the NBA All-Star Game and Mardi Gras collide here this weekend. And some things to look forward to watching. Saturday night of course you've got this three-point contest and dunk competition and we had an epic contest last year between Zach Lavin and Aaron Gordon. Well, Gordon is back again this year and I've been told he has some dunks that are going to blow our minds. That's definitely something to look for tomorrow night.

Then on the big game Sunday all eyes are going to be on the Western Conference squad because Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will be once again on the same team for the first time since Durant left the Thunder for the Warriors. These two guys don't speak anymore. They've had a few heated exchanges on the court so far this season. So it will be definitely fun to watch them on the same team in the game on Sunday.

And you can catch all the all-star weekend action on TNT. You've got the State Farm all-star Saturday night getting going at 8:00 Eastern tomorrow night and then Sunday the 66th NBA All-Star Game. Coverage for that starts at 7:00. Be sure to tune in to CNN tomorrow afternoon all access at the NBA All-Star Game at CNN Bleacher Report Special, hosted by Fredricka Whitfield and Steve Smith. That will be at 2:30 Eastern.

And the Golden State Warriors have four all-stars this year. And the head coach for the team is Steve Kerr. He says he's going to play all four of his guys at the same time, Chris. It will be very interesting if the one player that is a non-Warrior on the court at that time is Russell Westbrook. So that will be something to look out for.

CUOMO: A piffy insight from a well-clothed man. Thank you very much. I enjoy looking -- I enjoy this and I look forward to your coverage this weekend, my friend. What a job.

All right. So President Trump was lighting up some verbal fireworks. He had the ballyhoo machine in full effect. His first solo news conference chock full of zingers directed at reporters. What if anything was game? We talk substance over style, next.


[06:52:50] CUOMO: Interrupting your reading of the morning tabloid.


CAMEROTA: I need to catch up on page six.

CUOMO: Hoping to clear you of your sinuses?

CAMEROTA: I need to. President Trump's lively press conference covered a lot of ground. Including one of his favorite topics, blasting media coverage.

CUOMO: You in particular. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I turn on the TV, open the newspapers, and I see stories of chaos. Chaos. Yet it is the exact opposite. The "Wall Street Journal" did a story today that was almost as disgraceful as the failing "New York Times." The public isn't -- you know, they read newspapers, they see television, they watch. They don't know if it's true or false.


CAMEROTA: Well, that's true. So we're here for that. Let's bring in CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES" Brian Stelter, and CNN media analyst and author of "The War for Late Night," Bill Carter.

Great to see both of you. Let me start with the "New York Post" cover, "Wildest Show on Earth," depicting him as PT Barnum basically.

And Brian, I don't know. It's just so funny. You know, you keep hearing people shocked, shocked that he's returned to the rhetoric of the campaign trail. Oh my gosh, what's happening? Did he ever veer away from the rhetoric of the campaign trail? When are people going to stop being shocked by things that he says?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Do you know any 70- year-old men who suddenly get a fancy new job and then change their ways?


STELTER: PT Barnum, the circus master, that's the President Trump we saw on the campaign trail. Heck, it's the one we saw on "The Apprentice." People should not expect any pivot. I think, by the way, he'll do more of these press conferences.


STELTER: I think he loves this format. He was comfortable. He enjoys the tug of war. I think he wants to continue to try this campaign style.

CUOMO: Well, look, under the heading of what we can show, nobody is as good an advocate for Donald Trump as he is.

CARTER: As he is. Right.

CUOMO: Nobody is better when tested than Donald Trump is. One of the arguments that we often made with the president about why to come on the show is you don't want to pass. Let us test you. You will be at your best. And I think you see that.

You also gave you the insight into what's holding him back right now yesterday, which is not a style. He said the people don't know what is true and what is not.

CARTER: Exactly.

CUOMO: And that is what fake is all about. It is distraction, it is deception without proof.

[06:55:04] He did not prove anything untrue yesterday.


CUOMO: Not one thing that he called fake but that's what works with the base, is that they want to believe him. They don't know otherwise. So that's where we come in. Show him what is true and untrue. Do you think that's a better use of our time? Don't worry about judging how Donald Trump is?

CARTER: Well, of course if we can -- that's our job anyway is to present the facts fairly and objectively.

CUOMO: But style is a temptation.


CUOMO: He likes to talk about --


CARTER: Chris, he also attacked tone. He kept saying, you guys hate me. You hate me. Because you're saying he's not the greatest thing, everything isn't right, everything isn't correct. He doesn't like to be challenged. It was very interesting to see how self-pitying he was. It's like everything is wrong for me. Everybody hates me. I inherited a mess. You know, he comes across both as a bully and sort of I'm being bullied.

STELTER: And as Spicer said, they feel demoralized.


STELTER: By the news conference. Kellyanne Conway talked about wounds. I think your insight, Chris, is really interesting about the sense of the president he is watching this. He is struggling with some of the coverage. He has a hard time watching all the news coverage of his -- of his White House and he doesn't think it reflects his reality.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Well, you can also argue that the tone comes from the top. That the president sets the tone for the country.

CARTER: Well, look at the tone of that thing yesterday. I mean, people would get up, he would insult them, he had no respect for them. Even the Jewish reporter. He tried to say something nice about him and he just slapped the guy down.

CAMEROTA: Yes. We have that. Let's see if we could play this moment because it was very interesting. He wanted to ask a question and somehow President Trump turned it against himself. Let's see if we have it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Are you a friendly reporter? Watch how friendly he is. Wait, wait. Watch how friendly he is. Go ahead.

JAKE TURX, REPORTER, AMI MAGAZINE: So first of all, I'm Jake Turx of Ami magazine. And despite all of my colleagues may have been reporting, I haven't seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or any of -- anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic. We understand that you have Jewish grandchildren. You are their zayde.

TRUMP: Thank you.

TURX: However, what we are concerned about and what we haven't really heard you address is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how in this climate you're going to take care of it.

TRUMP: He said he's going to ask a very simple easy question, and it's not. It's not. Not a simple question. Not a fair question. OK. Sit down. I understand the rest of your question. So here's the story, folks, number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism. The least racist person. In fact we did really well relative to other people --


CAMEROTA: OK. I just want to let him -- OK. Basically -- the question was, and I know it was hard to hear with the audio there, was what are you going to do about the instances --

CARTER: Right. All these attacks. All the anti-Semitic attacks.

CAMEROTA: The bomb threats.

CARTER: Right.

CAMEROTA: At the temples. About anti-Semitic attacks. And he turned it to being an attack somehow on him.

CARTER: Right.

CAMEROTA: As though he were anti-Semitic. That's not what the reporter asked.

CARTER: No. The guy cleared that.

CUOMO: The reporter was sympathetic.

CARTER: Very much so.

CUOMO: Trump says he's reached out more to the Orthodox community than we've seen recently from presidents, so he wasn't there as an enemy, and by the way that is completely irrelevant. The idea of wanting a friendly reporter is at best oxymoronic.

But here's the thing, Brian. He doesn't decry anti-Semitism, racism, white nationalism. I don't know why they cotton to Donald Trump. I can't prove to you why it happens. But I can prove to you that when given a layup of I don't want anything to do with David Duke. If you're a racist stay away from me. I don't want you in my camp. You know, if you're an anti-Semite I'm coming out, I'm going to find you. That's not who we are. I'm from Queens. You know, I grew up with Jews. They're my friends. They're my family. I'm coming for you. He doesn't take the layup, why?

STELTER: This is going to haunt him. You know, for journalists they have to, as we cover this administration, think can we look back years from now and be proud of the way we have covered this administration? Well, the same thing is true for President Trump. Is he going to look back when the history books start to be written? Is he going to be proud of what he said?



CARTER: Yes, he probably will.

STELTER: But on these issues?

CARTER: Probably will.

STELTER: But on these issues of anti-Semitism, of racism?


CUOMO: Yes, because he said --

CARTER: He won't go there, Brian. He won't go there. He's never tweeted once on this. He tweets on everything else.

CUOMO: True.

CARTER: He's never tweeted once about white supremacy or anti- Semites. He stays away from that. He doesn't want his followers to hear him say it.

CUOMO: But look --

STELTER: I don't think he'll be proud of the way he's handled this so far. But it's only four weeks. He could address this any day of the week.

CAMEROTA: I don't know, Brian.

CUOMO: But look, they say that we're in a bubble here because it's New York. But there's no better place to be to understand who Donald Trump is and the people who know him best. He does not consider himself any of these ugly things.


CUOMO: His friends will say he's had a pattern of being magnanimous towards communities that he's being criticized from now. But he doesn't answer the questions the right way.

CAMEROTA: Brian, Bill, thank you.

STELTER: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. International viewers, appreciate you being with us. "CNN NEWSROOM" is next for you. For our U.S. viewers we're about to get after it.

NEW DAY continues right now.


TRUMP: Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Controversy continues to haunt the West Wing.

TRUMP: I see stories of chaos. Chaos. Yet it is the exact opposite.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Retired Vice Admiral Bob Harwood turning down the job of National Security adviser.