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Senate Committees Investigating Trump Russian Ties; Trump Calls Media Enemy of Americans; Sweden Reacts to Trump Controversial Comments on Immigrants; Trump Names McMaster as National Security Chief. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired February 20, 2017 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:30:41] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: The Senate committee investigating Russian tampering into the 2016 election is telling the Trump administration, preserve all records related to Russia. CNN has learned formal requests were sent to more than a dozen organizations and agencies and individuals just last Friday. The very same day that the Senate Intel Committee received a classified briefing on Russia from James Comey himself, the chief of the FBI. White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, says, just because they are looking into these connection, right, just this request, he said, doesn't mean there is anything there. He denies any collusion between Trump campaign staffers and Russia
Let's go to Phil Mattingly working on this holiday with me, CNN's congressional correspondent.
You got multiple committees looking into any sort of Russia ties. Where does this go from here?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's the big question. You saw what Reince Priebus said, you have seen the request to preserve documents. It's not that the request itself was out of the ordinary. An investigative committee would do something like this par for the course for any investigation. But the scope and the timing issues what drew everybody's attention. If you look at the playing field, a lot of Democrats have been calling for an independent committee or a special prosecutor. Republicans have made it clear that's not going to happen. But what we have seen particularly in the Senate has been a bipartisan effort as part of the Intelligence Committee to dig deep into it. We were taken aback when we saw Jim Comey out of blue walk in and meet with the members of the committee on Friday as the rest of their colleagues were going away for the Senate recess. In the top two members of this committee, it's historically a partisan committee, they are working to the in this probe. When you talk to Senator in both parties what they are hearing what they have been told it is early to draw conclusions you but I do think the idea that there is a serious look is into what is going on. Someone actually occurring, the big question, will the committee remain independent, bipartisan, and what will they find -- Brooke?
BALDWIN: Phil Mattingly, we shall see. Phil, thank you. Coming up next, President Trump calls the media the enemy of the American people. But his top officials have a different message. Hear what they have to say next and how people are responding to those words.
Also, ahead, shocking surveillance footage that appears to show North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's estranged brother being attacked at a crowded airport moments before he died. We are looking into that investigation coming up.
[14:37:38] BALDWIN: President Trump launching more attacks against the media. The president reiterated his distaste for journalists this morning again using the fake news label after reporters questioned him over the weekend. His claim about some sort of attack in Sweden. False. The president went to far as to declare the media, quote, "the enemy of the American people." If you ask top Republican lawmakers he is wrong on this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R), ARIZONA: I hate the press. I hate you especially. But the fact is, we need you. We need a free press. We must have it.
JOHN KASICH, (R), OHIO GOVERNOR: Thank god you are there. You are there to hold people accountable.
MCCAIN: If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press.
GEN. JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I've had some contention times with the press, but no the press as far as that I'm concerned with a constituency we deal with.
KASICH: While I don't always agree with reporting of the press they are vital. Such an important part of democracy.
MCCAIN: Without it I'm afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That's how dictators get started.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Brian Stelter, let's talk about this, host of "Reliable Sources."
When you say the media is the enemy of the American people, our friend, Carl Bernstein, who helped break Watergate wide open, led to the impeachment of Nixon, when you have Carl Bernstein saying this is treacherous. That speaks volumes.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, RELIABLE SOURCES: Yes, and Chris Wallace at FOX News said this crossed the line.
BALDWIN: Crossed the line, yes.
STELTER: FOX News isn't an outlet Trump has singled out. CNN, "New York Times," NBC, ABC, and CBS. I think Donald Trump is trying to drive a wedge between outlets that he likes or dislikes. Wallace on FOX was challenging Reince Priebus.
Carl Bernstein is suggesting this is worse than Nixon. In 1972, Nixon was on audio tape saying the press is the enemy. But that was in private. Supposed to be a secret. President Trump is going further saying this publicly in a proud way on Twitter. Of course, he has only been in office 30 or 31 days. Makes me wonder what he is going to be saying 30 months from now. This is 30 days in.
[14:40:03] BALDWIN: What's the fear. From a White House correspondent on all of this here fear is what.
STELTER: Speaking to correspondents, one in particular, who said my marry is when the virtual comments turn into physical threats, a random voter, who hears the president say this and takes it into the physical world. It's one thing to be booed at rallies. Reporters are used to that they are not there to be friends of anybody in the crowd. You there is a fear that it could turn violent. And the other question, would President Trump use the news agency to punish the outlets he doesn't like. We haven't seen that. There has been talk about defunding the parent company of PBS. That's been a Republican topic for a long time. If it becomes actions not just words it would be more significant.
# Rush Limbaugh says it is the media that is constantly attacking the president. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The media did not make Donald Trump. And he can't destroy him. But the media thinks -- and I -- when I say media, let me define, ABC, CBS, NBC, "New York Times," "Washington Post," "USA Today," "L.A. Times," the cadre. They have a formula, they have a blueprint for destroying Republican political officials they don't like. It's not going to work on Trump. He doesn't fit that mold. They are trying to every day. It's kind of comical to watch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: I'm glad he is having fun, glad he is enjoying it.
BALDWIN: I heard you laugh listening to him. He has tens of millions of listeners. Makes me wonder how many people believe that.
STELTER: Certainly, something Rush Limbaugh has been trying to erode trust in in the mainstream press for decades. Part of his appeal is that he is anti-media. Trump is picking these fights because the media is powerful. In some ways, he is going after the media instead of the Democratic Party because the party is weak right now and Trump needs an enemy. But there is a broader problem here, whether the president likes it or not, he does have a credibility problem, and his White House has a credibility problem. Yesterday the White House said President Trump was playing a couple of holes of golf. Then Rory McIroy was with him, then it was an entire round of golf.
BALDWIN: That's a little thing.
STELTER: A little thing. But an example of a big problem. That in and of itself not a big deal. I would argue misstating the facts about Sweden not even a big deal. However, it's part of a wider issue with this White House. That's why there has been aggressive coverage. It's not because the journalists are trying to take don't the president or because they voted for or against him. It goes back to what we talked about.
BALDWIN: To me, it goes back to what we talked about after the mega long press conference. It was peter alexander's question, if you present Americans with false facts how are they to trust you.
STELTER: I think the country wants to trust the president. Not the voter you were interviewing, she is inclined to believe the president.
BALDWIN: She feels he is reaching out to her.
STELTER: For other Americans down the protesters down block right now they should be able to trust the president but right now the president is making it hard to do that.
BALDWIN: Brian Stelter, thank you very much.
STELTER: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Coming up, Sweden reacts to President Trump's claims of violence there. We talked to the person who happened to be running Sweden's Twitter account, handed over to private citizens, when this whole thing happened. Her take, coming up.
[14:48:14] BALDWIN: Back on Twitter this morning, President Trump explaining a little further his claim about violence tied to immigrants in Sweden. This is what he tweeted, quote, "Give the public a break, the fake news media is trying to say that large-scale immigration in Sweden is working out beautifully. Not."
This followings remarks President Trump made at a rally in weekend in Florida. Listen exactly to what he said. This is in response to an incident that did not happen in Sweden the night before.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You look at what's happening in Germany. You look at what's happening last night in Sweden. Sweden. Who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They are having problems like they never thought possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let's go to Ivan Watson, our senior international correspondent, there in Stockholm.
How are people in Sweden -- how is the government reacting to this?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: People here, this has become a joke. The #last night in Sweden with pictures of supposed terrorists that include the pop band Abba and the Swedish chef from the show the Muppets. A guy I talked to said we started thinking did somebody take our Swedish meat balls? The embassy offering to reach out to the state deputy offering information and trying to clarify on this. In the last couple of hours, the Swedish prime minister has come out and said he was surprised about these comments and concerned that this country does have problems and challenges that it wrestles with much like any other country in the world, crime and immigration. But he also had some words that were unmistakable words of advice or criticism for the U.S. president. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[14:50:03] STEFAN LOFVEN, SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER: Do not forget that in international rankings in issues such as equality, human development, competitiveness, we like our guest today from Canada, are doing very well. So yes, we have opportunities. We have challenges, we are working with them every day. But I think we must all take responsible for using facts correctly, and for verifying any information that we spread.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON: Brooke, immigration is a contentious political issue here. Sweden took in -- gave asylum between 100,000 people between 2012 and 2015. But there is no direct correlation between that and any crime here. The U.S. State Department says that crime grew 4percent from 2014 to 2015. But most of that was due to computed-related fraud. And this country has not been the target of a successful Islamic extremist jihadi inspired terror attack in years -- Brooke?
BALDWIN: Laughing it off with Swedish meatball jokes and Abba. I got it.
Ivan, thank you, in Stockholm.
Let me bring in a unique guest here. A school librarian, Emma Johansson, was in charge of the official @Sweden Twitter account on Saturday. All of a sudden, she is inundated in Sweden last night. She is a mother sitting at home with a broken leg when she found herself responding to comments made by the United States president.
I understand you were up to 3:45 in the morning inundated, answering these tweets. Who were some of the more memorable ones?
EMMA JOHANSSON, SCHOOL LIBRARIAN IN CHARGE OF @SWEDEN TWITTER ACCOUNT: There were quite a few. One was like Trump saying there is a terrorist attack. And then there was a comment under there saying Sweden commenting saying, nope. Just short, to the point. It was pretty much what I tried to do. Like finding facts and just seeing if there was anything, truth to it, and then coming up with the answer that, no, there was no truth to it. So it was a nope.
BALDWIN: Quickly, I'm having a lint of a tough time hearing you. Americans in particular, what were they tweeting?
JOHANSSON: Most of them, most Americans apologized for the president, which I thought was pretty sad, really. That they apologized for the president.
BALDWIN: Apologizing for the president. I saw the former prime minister had tweeted, "Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound."
What did you make of his word choice? What has he been smoking?
JOHANSSON: I kind of get it because I checked all the main news sources we have here in Sweden, and there was nothing. There was just --a contest, there was nothing else. That was the main news. I was wondering where he got it from.
BALDWIN: Emma Johansson, I appreciate it.
Let's go to President Trump. We are getting a quick picture here down at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach. Let's listen in.
TRUMP: He also known for a long-time general, Keith Kellogg, who I also have gotten to know. And he is a terrific man and they are going to be working together. And Keith is going to be chief of staff. And I think that combination is something very, very special.
I met with many other people, tremendous respect for the people I met with. I know John Bolton, we are going to be asking to work with us in a somewhat different capacity. John is a terrific guy. We had good meetings with him. Knows a lot. Has a good -- a good -- a good number of ideas that I must tell you I agree very much with. We'll be talking to John Bolton in a different capacity.
And we will be talking to some of the other generals that I have met that I have really, really gained a lot of respect for.
So I think with that, I'd like to ask H.R. to say a couple of words. I'd like to ask Keith to say a couple of words. And then I'll see you back in Washington. We are leaving right now for Washington and the White House. General?
GEN. H.R. MCMASTER, NEWLY APPOINTED NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Mr. President, thank you very much. I'd just like to say what a privilege it is to be able to continue serving our nation. I'm grateful to you for that opportunity. And I look forward to joining the national security team and doing everything I can to advance and protect the interests of the American people. Thank you very much, sir.
TRUMP: You are going to do a great job.
[14:55:13] GEN. KEITH KELLOGG, NEWLY APPOINTED CHIEF OF STAFF FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: Mr. President, thank you for the opportunity to continue to serve. I'm very honored by it, very privileged by it, and very honored and privileged to serve alongside H.R. McMaster. I've known him years as well. He's a great statesman and a great soldier.
TRUMP: So are you, what a team.
TRUMP: This is a great team. We are very, very honored. Our country is lucky to have two people like this. And frankly, after having met so many people in the military, we are lucky to have all of them. Thank you very much, we're leaving for Washington right now. Thank you.
BALDWIN: All right. We are going to hang on to every second of that.
All of a sudden here, breaking news. President Trump has now officially named his national security chief. He is Lieutenant general Herbert Raymond, "H.R.", McMaster. He was one of the four candidates that had been floated. They were speaking at Mar-a-Lago. He traveled to Palm Beach. The president interviewed multiple candidates over the last 24 hours. Now this is who he has chosen.
You know the back story. It was initially General Mike Flynn. He ultimately tendered his resignation over an issue of trust in misleading the vice president, not letting the vice president know that there had been this conversation with -- the Russian ambassador and General Flynn as it pertained to sanctions in Russia. That led to the rest resignation. And then we knew that there was someone else, Bob Hereward who was floated. But he said no on Friday, who would it be? Now we know.
Let's go to the Pentagon. Barbara Starr with me now.
Now we have it, General H.R. McMaster. Tell me more about him.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is someone that is very well known I will tell you to many members of the Pentagon press corps who traveled over the years to Iraq and Afghanistan 678 he has done a number of tours of duty. He is very well respected. How to say this. He is a very independent thinker. This is a guy who says what's on his mind, does not suffer fools gladly, has worked in some of the toughest jobs, worked with some of the toughest people. I suspect that he will say, knowing him, exactly, what is on his mind. But let's look at some of the practicalities for the president here. He was turned down by a retired admiral, a currently serving active duty, someone who is still on the job until military, cannot say no to the president. So you know, it may be that President Trump and the White House decided to look at somebody on active duty knowing that they couldn't decline, they couldn't say no.
But with H.R. McMaster, you're getting somebody pretty interesting because he's not known as someone who is going to be anybody's yes man. What he can bring to the table at the NSC is probably the much need internal management to get the NSC fully up and running, to get things coordinated, to get items to the president for decision making base. As a lieutenant general, as a three star, he knows how to do all of that he knows how to get the right people in. He has a pretty good depth and breadth across the military. He will be able to assemble people that he wants, that he has known for years and trusts. He's also somebody -- and I don't think it should be regarded lightly -- someone who is a great military thinking and a bit of a historian. He wrote a PhD thesis and book called dereliction of duty about the failure of command, the failures of government back during the Vietnam war, something that was very widely read and still is today inside the military -- Brooke?
BALDWIN: So you are talking about Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster. If we are looking at this picture here he is on our left, Trump's right. And on the other side, Barbara, that is General Keith Kellogg. He will be the NSC chief of staff. That was a name potentially floated as the national security adviser. Tell us more about him.
STARR: General Kellogg retired for many years, a very decent guy, by all accounts. He wanted to come back into government service after being out of it for many years. He had been involved in the early days of the operations in Iraq, not in a battlefield sense. He was involved in some of the sort of reconstruction, getting the whole Iraq enterprise up and running in a non-combat, if I recall. He was a civilian. He is former Special Forces. He served in a variety of highly respected --