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Trump Picks New National Security Advisor; New Trump Immigration Order Nearing Completion; Authorities Investigate Bomb Threats against Jewish Centers; Four Americans Killed in Australia Plane Crash. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired February 21, 2017 - 06:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: General H.R. McMaster will become the national security adviser.

[05:58:47] LT. GEN. H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I look forward to advance and protect the American people.

GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: There is not going to be anyone that speaks ill of H.R. McMaster.

MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have great confidence in the national security team going forward.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an upgrade over General Flynn.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The Trump administration is tweaking the president's executive order on immigration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a very fine line between keeping our communities safe and taking away basic protection.

TRUMP: I am the least anti-Semitic person.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The White House responds to threats against Jewish community centers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Has the administration done enough?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're watching NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, February 21, 6 a.m. here in New York.

Up first, President Trump naming Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster as his new national security adviser. The active-duty officer assumes the role as several foreign policy challenges continue to boil.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: The first challenge will probably be the president's new immigration executive order, which is nearing completion, we're told. So how is the White House changing the travel ban to address federal appeals court concerns?

Also, there are mounting questions about why the president hasn't directly condemned anti-Semitism in America.

It's day 33 of the Trump presidency. Let's begin our coverage with CNN senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns, live at the White House -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris.

After a dramatic resignation of Michael Flynn and a quick talent search, the White House hoping to get the week started off on the right foot with a meeting of the National Security Council and a new national security adviser, who didn't have a choice in turning down the job.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP: A man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience.

JOHNS (voice-over): President Donald Trump unveiling Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster as his new national security adviser.

TRUMP: He is highly respected by everybody in the military, and we're very honored to have him.

JOHNS: McMaster is a decorated Army soldier; a veteran of the first Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan; and a widely respected military strategist.

MCMASTER: I'd just like to say what a privilege it is to be able to continue serving our nation.

JOHNS: Known as a creative thinker, McMaster is a West Point graduate and holds a Ph.D. in military history. The pick drawing praise from both sides of the political spectrum. Senator John McCain, who's been among President Trump's toughest Republican critics, calling McMaster "an outstanding choice, a man of genuine intellect, character and ability."

McMaster takes the helm of a National Security Council one week after Michael Flynn was forced to resign for misleading the vice president about his communications with a Russian ambassador.

PENCE: I was disappointed to learn that the -- the facts that had been conveyed to me by General Flynn were inaccurate.

JOHNS: President Trump's first choice to replace Flynn, retired Vice Admiral Bob Harward, but he turned down the job, citing family reasons. Sources tell CNN Harward was also concerned about being able to form his own team.

But as an active-duty officer, McMaster did not have the option of saying, "No thanks." What remains to be seen is how independent-minded McMaster will work

with Steve Bannon, the president's controversial chief strategist, who sits on the National Security Council.

REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The president has said very clearly that the new NSA director will have total and complete say over the makeup of the NSC and all of the components of the NSC.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: On another note, the president is set to visit the Smithsonian's new African-American History Museum right here in Washington, D.C., today. This is a visit that was scheduled for last month but had to be reset -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Joe. Appreciate it.

So the Trump administration is planning to roll out its new immigration executive order this week, we're told. How is it going to be different? New guidelines for enforcement from the Department of Homeland Security could be announced as early as today.

CNN's Laura Jarrett, live in Washington with more.

There were ways -- even the court said it in its decision -- to revamp or rework this order that would avoid a lot of legal challenges. What are we expecting?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Chris. So we're expecting to see two big moves on immigration this week.

The first step is we're going to see a set of memos from Homeland Security, probably later this morning, and those are going to provide additional guidance to the federal agencies that are tasked with carrying out the president's executive orders on border security. And here's what we know from the memos that we saw over the weekend.

First, the executive order is going to expand something called expedited removal, so if an undocumented person gets picked up and can't prove that she's lived here continuously for more than two years, then she could be fast-tracked for expedited deportation. And that's very different than what happened under the Obama administration.

We're also seeing a revival of a program that essentially recruits local police officers to help with deportation, effectively making them de facto immigration agents, while at the same time giving them a lot more discretion on who to arrest.

Now, interestingly, the Trump administration appears to leave in place, at least for now, President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, otherwise known as DACA, which protects the young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, the DREAMers.

Now separately, as you mentioned, we know the White House is putting finishing touches on a new version of the president's travel ban. But the question on everybody's mind this week is what exactly is going to be different about the ban the second time around? Perhaps the biggest change that at least we know of is who's drafting the order. This time, sources tell us that the White House counsel's office, instead of the policy shop, is taking a lead role here.

We also heard from the head of Homeland Security over the weekend that the rollout of the new ban will likely include a phase-in period instead of that automatic switch that we saw last time. And green card holders will not be affected.

So the critical issue now remains is who exactly is going to be covered for student visas -- Alisyn.

[06:05:07] CAMEROTA: Laura, thank you for all of that background. We want to talk about it and much more. Let's bring in our panel. We have CNN political analyst and "New York Times" White House correspondent, Maggie Haberman; senior congressional correspondent for "The Washington Examiner" and host of the podcast "Examining Politics," David Drucker; and CNN political director David Chalian. Good morning to all of you. Great to see you.

So Maggie, let's start with national security adviser Lieutenant General McMaster. He's well-regarded, of course. The question is the same question it always is when Donald Trump picks somebody, and that is how much autonomy will he have? Will he have the president's ear or does he have to sort of somehow do an end run around Steve Bannon?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that Bannon was an advocate for McMaster, as I understand it from a couple of people. But several in the orbit were. So was Mike Pence, so was Reince Priebus.

I think that we have to wait and see. We don't really know how McMaster wants to conduct this job. He said very little yesterday.

But to your point I think it is incumbent upon the White House to find a way to make this work, and I think that if it does not work, it is going to raise all kinds of criticism and problems. McMaster is so highly regarded, and he is so highly regarded as not being, essentially, a company man in the way that you're describing. He is known for questioning authority, which is a really impressive thing in a general on its own, and a career military officer.

I think that Flynn did not have a wide command of respect among a lot of people. McMaster clearly comes in in a different position.

But, again, the White House is going to have to demonstrate that it is willing to let people have a different opinion. We have seen a slew of people fired in the last week for various reasons, but among them, past criticism of the current president. You had one person expected to be the deputy at the State Department. He was then nixed because past criticism came to the president's attention. We will have to wait and see.

And I know the president had said to a couple of people over the weekend that he had been under some impression that McMaster had criticized him, which I believe was not true during the campaign. This looms large for this president, as we know, but they're going to need to find a way to put this in place effectively.

CUOMO: One of the things he seems to have going for him in terms of fitness for the job is that he only knows Army. We have General Mark Hertling on later, and Phil Mudd. Hertling knows him and worked with him. So we'll get that perspective. But that notion they keep floating out from the Trump staff, this guy has only known Army, as a suggestion that he'll know make the trains run on time, which is really what they want that to be. They don't want it to be a big open voice of contention. Does that square with your -- what you're hearing?

DAVID DRUCKER, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Yes, I do. And I think we have to remember, one of Michael Flynn's big failings was that he was not a good manager. He was described by some people that I've spoken to over the past months as sort of a savant when it comes to intelligence matters and outside-the-box thinking. But when you're national security advisor, your job is to manage the National Security Council and make sure the president gets the best information. And so I think here they chose somebody who would appear to have that skill set.

So now the test is, when the national security advisor delivers information to the president that he doesn't like or that would appear to be critical of his own approach. For instance, Mr. President, I know you'd like to approach Russia this way. Our best estimates are that you should actually take this approach and reconsider, will he take that advice in the best way that he should, which is people trying to help him, as opposed to saying, "Hey, why is everybody opposing me in my own administration?"

CAMEROTA: David Chalian, as we know, some top candidates had turned down the position, because they were afraid that they weren't going to have enough independence or autonomy in this administration. He can't turn it down. He's active duty. This is the commander in chief telling him what to do. Do we know if he is excited about this -- this new assignment?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: We have no reporting to suggest that he would want to turn this down. But you are right. He is active duty. He's going to remain active duty in this role, so he is taking on an assignment from the commander in chief. There's no doubt about it.

But to David's point, remember some of other personalities at play here that McMaster's going to have to deal with, former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, now the secretary of state; James Mattis at the Pentagon. He has to take these heavy hitters that Donald Trump put in his cabinet and coalesce their information flow to the Oval Office. That -- that is the task. And if the president allows him the running room to do so without too much interference from the West Wing political staff, then he should be able to be successful at that mission.

CUOMO: One of the interesting dynamics that we'll get insight from General Hertling about is you have a lieutenant general dealing with a four-star general in Mattis. And even though Mattis is retired, there is a deference there that is assumed to play out. So that's an interesting part of this dynamic.

The travel ban, Maggie, the whole question is whether or not they've taken the time to make it challenge-proof. What are you hearing?

HABERMAN: I don't know if it will be challenge-proof, but it will certainly be much more challenge-resistant, like any good flame retardant. And I think you saw what Kelly said over the weekend. He was pretty clear this is going to be done in a much more fulsome manner.

[06:10:12] But we still have this open question. It's the same -- it's the same country as we know. Green card holders are not going to be, you know, overrun, as we saw with the last one. And there is going to be that time delay. The big question is the visas.

And that is, I think, where you are going to see a lot of the question marks hang if you see this get challenged. I assume, no matter what it looks like, you are going to see some kind of a legal challenge.

CAMEROTA: David, here's what we know. We'll put it up on the screen. It will not impact green cardholders, as Maggie says. It will include a phase-in period. It won't just be sort of overnight. Everybody's scrambling. It would give notice with current or pending visas. It may offer exceptions to those who fought alongside U.S. troops.

This is obviously important, because Iraq is included. Iraq is considered a partner now of the U.S., not necessarily an adversary. So that was going to be a complicated one. We know interpreters who were caught up in the dragnet who had been so helpful to our soldiers. May modify or remove religious priority for refugees. Well, doesn't it have to?

DRUCKER: Well, that's to be determined, but I think what will happen politically, if they actually are going to dot all their "I's" and cross their "T'"s here in the way that you've laid out is they're going to get a lot of support on Capitol Hill from Republicans. So it's not going to be the administration out there on an island, trying to defend something with so many flaws, because there's a lot of support among Republicans. And we've seen among voters generally on the right side of the aisle for the underlying substance of what Trump is trying to do here.

And so I think this would change the political atmospherics around this, where last time, because there were so many flaws, there were so many constitutional issues and problems with translators who had helped our troops in the field, in the Middle East were denied entrance.

So now you're going to see an entirely different stance from the White House, and they're going to have allies on this, where before they didn't because it was so problematic.

CAMEROTA: Panel...

CUOMO: Go ahead, David.

DRUCKER: That last bullet point you had on religion I think is so key, because that's where the administration is going to message that this really is extreme vetting in their mind and not the Muslim ban that he spoke about on the campaign trail, which as you know, came up in the court hearing.

CUOMO: Well, that will be the big trick. The one thing that's not going to be in this ban will be what's most important. What is extreme vetting? What are these new procedures that keep us safer? How long until we see them?

CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you. Stick around. We have many more questions.

Also there's this new wave of threats against Jewish community centers. How is the White House responding to the anti-Semitism? Has the president gone far enough in things that he has said? Our panel is going to take that on next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:16:37] CUOMO: A new wave of bomb threats at Jewish community centers across the country. Now, there are at least ten that were targeted on Monday. Nearly 70 threats have been called in this year. Over the weekend vandals damaged dozens of headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Missouri.

The White House released this statement, saying, "Hatred and hate- motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individual freedom. The president has made it abundantly clear that these actions are unacceptable."

And yet, he hasn't. He hasn't tweeted about this with the ordinary vigor that the president usually brings to things he doesn't like.

Let's bring back our panel: Maggie Haberman, David Drucker and David Chalian.

And Maggie, that's what it is. This is in no way meant as a suggestion that the president is somehow OK with this. He's never said anything like that. But it's what he doesn't say. He's such a full-throated critic of things. Not this.

HABERMAN: No. It stands in stark contrast with a number of any wide range of things that he chooses to weigh in on. And again, it's not just through official channels. He uses Twitter as his main -- his main spokes voice. He has been incredibly quiet on this. His daughter, Ivanka Trump, who converted to Judaism when she married her husband, did tweet about this. But again, missing from her tweet and missing from the White House statement they just showed is the word "Jew." It could be about anything.

CUOMO: Also, I don't remember voting for her for president either. It's nice that she -- you know, he weighs in, you know, about the president. HABERMAN: Look, it's not nothing, and it is -- it is not the

president. And you had that instance last week at the press conference that the president did, his first very long solo press conference, where he was asked by a reporter for a Jewish publication about this. His answer was not only to not answer the question. He made it all about himself.

CUOMO: Let's play it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: However, what we are concerned about and what we haven't really heard being addressed is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning 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. It's not a fair question. OK, sit town. I understand the rest of your question.

So here's the story. No. 1, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life. No. 2, racism, the least racist person. In fact, we did very well relative to other people running as a Republican. Quiet, quiet, quiet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: That reporter is actually a supporter of the president and has said that he's made great outreach to the community, but it takes us back to the central question. David, this is a layup. You know, anti-Semitic things, we don't tolerate it in this country. And it would be something that he would jump up on soap box and decry all day and build lots of consensus behind it, because nobody is going to take the other side. Other than people that he should want nothing to do with.

DRUCKER: And he has resisted this from the earliest days of his campaign. If you remember, during the Republican primary, there was a point at which he was interviewed on CNN; and he was asked about some of his supporters from the alt-right and white supremacist movement. And, instead of just saying, "I'm so insulted you'd even ask me about this. Of course, I don't want those supporters. I decry this sort of behavior," he was stubborn. And he's always resisted this part of the moral leadership component of the presidency.

He has been willing to talk about the inner cities and what he sees as difficulties there. But when it comes to anything related to anti- Semitism or white supremacy, he just simply doesn't want to go there.

[06:20:14] And it seems as though he looks at this as this is the media's game. They're trying to play "gotcha" with me. I'm not going to do it, no matter what. And that is that way he approaches this.

And one thing I will say is I don't think it is sufficient for him to say, "I have Jewish relatives, and therefore, that absolves me of the presidential responsibility to speak out on this" when he's asked.

A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed Morris Epstein, who wrote the Holocaust statement for National Holocaust Remembrance Day...

CAMEROTA: That didn't mention Jewish people...

DRUCKER: ... and they just didn't want to touch it. There's nothing wrong with the statement. There's nothing there. And you can not mention the Holocaust without mentioning the fact that it was the final situation that the Nazis devised to exterminate Jews.

HABERMAN: You can, except that it's usually done by people who are trying to deny the Holocaust happened. So that's, I think, what is so striking.

And to what you said before, about how his reaction, you know, has been, you know, "I'm offended you'd even ask. Of course I think that." So I think he's always done the first part. It's always, "I'm offended you'd even asked." When I got this -- when I asked this question in the campaign, I got enormous blowback from them. The other thing that I would also highlight is, if President Obama was not responding on this, if we had seen the same reaction, the outcry would be massive. And the silence from Republicans, who had criticized Obama for anything related to Israel, just on the simplistic issue that the president is not sort of denouncing in a very full-throated way what we saw with the toppled headstones in the cemetery, for instance, swastikas painted in a bunch of place.

CAMEROTA: There's been an uptick in all sorts of vandalism and violence.

HABERMAN: And the president hears it when it's asked, as "it's about you." But that is not actually what people are saying.

CUOMO: Now it's become about him now, David Chalian, because he won't deal with it. And again, this all gets set against precedent, which is he is not shy to denounce things that he doesn't like. Sometimes he's not even right about them, but he'll deny it. This -- he doesn't. What is the political play here? Is it what he's hearing, that he has decided that this is a criticism of him so he doesn't want to deal with it?

CHALIAN: He can't seem to hear it any other way. Remember, that question that you just played came a day after he was asked a very similar question in the Bibi Netanyahu presser. And I believe he went on to answer that question about his election victory and how -- how big it was.

So he literally does not seem to be able to hear this concern about real events happening in the country as anything other than some personal criticism. And therefore, he misses the opportunity to make the larger point for the country. And only answers in a micro way about himself as if he's under attack. It's a little befuddling, actually.

CAMEROTA: I mean, and by the way, this is set against backdrop that there are all sorts of threats happening. There were ten threats yesterday across the country, bomb threats targeting Jewish centers, vandals, as you know, desecrated headstones. So is it up to Ivanka Trump? We all read the tweets. "America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship and religious centers." Hashtag JTC.

HABERMAN: I don't think that you can outsource a denunciation of religious attacks if you're the president to one of your children. And I think that this is going to -- again, I've gotten a lot of e- mails in the last 12 hour from Jewish leaders, leaders of groups who have said, you know, privately but said we really don't understand this, and we look for an answer. We can't get one.

CUOMO: And also, again, he -- you know, I've known the president a long time and understood his movements within the New York society, which has a heavy influence on protecting the Jewish cause. And he's always been known as a friend of the Jews. So the suggestion is not that he isn't. It's just a mystery as to why he doesn't do more on this.

HABERMAN: As David said, it's befuddling.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Panel, thank you very much.

CUOMO: Quick programming note for you: Dana Bash and this other guy talking to you will moderate a primetime debate tomorrow night with the candidates who say they should be the one to lead the Democratic National Committee. Join us tomorrow night at 10 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN. Get a look at what the future for that party might be.

CAMEROTA: That will be very interesting.

All right, Chris. Meanwhile there was a small plane, and it has crashed into a shopping mall in Australia. It has killed four Americans. So we'll tell you the details behind this crash, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:28:35] CUOMO: Breaking news. Five people killed after a charter plane crashes into a shopping mall moments after takeoff in the Australian city of Melbourne. Four Americans are among the dead. We've got CNN's Alexandra Field, live in Hong Kong with the breaking details. What do we know?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, all people on board that plane were told there was an Australian pilot. There were four American passengers, all dying on that plane when that plane crashed into the shopping center because this happened in the early morning hours. That shopping center was closed, but we do know that people on the ground who witnessed the plane go into the building were treated for shock.

One of the passengers on that plane was a former FBI agent, a 30-year veteran, Greg Reynolds DeHaven from Texas. His sister says that he was in Australia on the trip of a lifetime. She says that this was a chartered flight, talking the passengers out for a golf outing. She's remembering her brother today as a man who was both handsome and athletic. Investigators still trying to figure out what went wrong. Of course, that shopping center remains closed while they do their work. Part of the freeway nearby was also temporarily shut down with debris scattered across it.

Australia's prime minister remembering the victims this morning, putting out a statement, offering his condolences -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. So tragic, Alexandra. Thank you for all that information.

Well, he's already getting his praise, but who is Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster? General Mark Hertling knows him well. He's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)