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Who is Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster?; Ohio Voters on President Trump's First Month in Office. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired February 21, 2017 - 06:30   ET



[067:33:56] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Big news in the White House. President Trump naming Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster as his new national security adviser. Of course, he replaces Lieutenant General Mike Flynn, forced out last week after misleading the vice president about his contacts with Russia, although we still need to know a lot more about that situation. But now, we have a new guy, and what do we know about McMaster?

Let's discuss with people who can give you good insight on this man and what he means to the rest of us.

Philip Mudd, former CIA counterterrorism official, and Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, CNN military analyst and former Army commanding general who worked with General McMaster.

And, General, you come armed with proof of friendship. You have a book of a long -- you know, a long note in the front of it for you. Tell us about --


CUOMO: Tell us about why you feel confident in this choice.

HERTLING: Right there, Chris. It's a classic. I'm hawking it right here.

CUOMO: "Dereliction of Duty", a very in-depth look at the decision making that went into the Vietnam conflict and McMasters' analysis of the same.

[06:35:01] HERTLING: Yes, it's a great book. It's about not only the decision-making, but the lies that we're told between the civilians and the military and to the president. So, I think it's an indicator of how H.R. feels about the civil/military relationships and how he wants to get it right.

What was also interesting yesterday during the president's rollout of H.R. at Mara-a-Lago, you know, H.R. said, "I'm thankful for the opportunity to serve the -- to continue to serve this great nation." It was a lean toward serving the Constitution, serving the people of the republic. So, I think H.R. is going to do a wonderful job as the NSA. He's

going to be overwhelmed at first. He's never been in that kind of position in the Pentagon or in Washington, but he's an organizer, a very good commander. He's very charismatic and energetic and he's a quick study.

So, he will learn a lot of things very rapidly. He will be able to, I hope, be able to lead up to not only Mr. Trump but to others in the national security environmental and really bring some great knowledge to that position from his years of being a strategist and a wonderful commander.

CUOMO: Phil, what do you see in the choice?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, first, I think it is bringing news that General Hertling has a friend, but let's move and talk about --



CUOMO: Well, General, you know you've arrived. When Phil Mudd starts coming after you, it just shows that he's intimidated.

HERTLING: It's one of those days.

CUOMO: Go ahead.

MUDD: I agree with General Hertling. I think this is a great choice for a few reasons.

Look, you need someone with discipline and toughness in that chair. You've got some heavy hitters around the table. Secretary of state, secretary of defense, homeland security advisers, two of whom are four-stars. You have to have somebody who can stand up to the president.

I think the combination of experience in the field, toughness, and also, clearly, partly based on that book, which by all account is a great book. I haven't read it but it's on my read list, that this guy is a strategic thinker. That combination of that person sitting at the head of the table saying what's our complicated view on complicated issues going from the South China Sea through the Iran nuclear deal to how we handled Russia I think is a great choice.

CUOMO: So --

HERTLING: I had a concern, though, Chris, if I may.

CUOMO: Please?

HERTLING: You know, what's interesting is there's a lot of people -- when some of these picks have been made they're suddenly going to be Rasputin-like in their ability to persuade Trump to do things. You know, you can only put so much baggage in the rough sack of the

national security adviser and the secretary of defense. There's still got to be some insight from the president of the United States. Now, hopefully, he will listen to some who have extensive experience in combat and in government.

CUOMO: All right. So, balance that with the impression of McMaster as a freethinker. These are the free quotes that came across from people who knew him. Yes, he knows how to run the trains on time, he's only known Army, so he doesn't have that kind of more expansive political experience, but this is man who is willing to walk if he doesn't believe in what's being done.

So, how to you balance those portions of McMasters' style and personality in terms of dealing with a political agency of the White House?

HERTLING: When you get to this level in the military, Chris, and I heard Maggie Haberman earlier say he's not a yes man like a lot of generals, I found that a little bit disturbing, because when you get to a three-star and four-star, you have to be an independent thinker. You have to look for innovations and initiatives.

You know, he was a commander. He was always getting input from those in the field, from those around him about doing the best things and taking the best courses of action. So, in terms of walking, I don't know, that's a little bit of a hyperbole.

He's going to be sound in his advice. He is going to push hard for right decisions, but when the decisions are made like all good soldiers, he's going to say roger that and drive on.

CUOMO: Of course, he is active duty which plays into that also in terms of his commitment and where his loyalties like.

One last thing, Phil Mudd. For people who are trying to assist this, what should do they know? What do they need out of this position to ensure their safety?

MUDD: Two things, Chris. One we talked about, one that nobody's talking about but that's the most critical piece of this for me. The first piece is discipline at the table with heavy hitters so he can bring them in and say what to you think about some of these issues. Even if the president doesn't agree with some of our positions, can I consolidate that and present it in a coherent form to the president?

The second, quickly, is -- how is he going to face up to Steve Bannon? You've got a practical guy and ideologue, that will be interesting, Chris.

CUOMO: The word from the White House is Bannon was in favor of this choice. We'll see how it plays out.

Gentlemen, thank you very much. Enjoy the dinner. I hear you upcoming. No worries they I'm not invited. It's OK. I would have paid, by the way. And that's the difference. HERTLING: Thank you, Dr. Cuomo.

CUOMO: I would have paid, that's the difference. You two guys, everybody knows, tight as two coats of paint.



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Wow. Thank you for that toss.

One month in, how do Trump voters think the president is doing?

[06:40:00] I went to the battlegrounds of Ohio to find out. What happens when they have to confront Trump critics? That's next.


CAMEROTA: It is February, but here on the East Coast, we are about to have a summer heat wave.

CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray has more on this warm-up.

What's going to happen, Jennifer?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, Alisyn, it's going to be amazing. It's going to be a lot like spring, of course.

This weather report is brought to you by Purina. Your pet, our passion.

So, let's look at this. It's set up for today. We are going to see this cold front draped across the midsection of the country, really warm air, though, behind it. It's not going to cool us off much at all.

Still another day of cooler air in the Northeast. But look at these temperatures across the plains, 70 in Kansas City, 69 in St. Louis, 66 in Chicago. In fact, we could set at least 31 records today for high temperatures.

Omaha should be at 70 -- or should be at 40 this time of year.

[06:45:02] They'll be at 72. Should be 33 in Sioux Falls. The high temperature will be 65 degrees.

So, enjoy it. It's going to be amazing. Look at the temperatures even warming up throughout the Northeast by the end of the week. New York City will be close to 70 on Friday -- Chris.

CUOMO: That's what I'm talking about. So much for that hedgehog.

All right. A scary moment in college basketball. West Virginia's legendary coach collapsing on the court.

Hines Ward joins us. Boy, this boy, it looks like something out of a movie. He has a

history of heart problems. He really went down waiting for the team to come in and --

HINES WARD, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is, Chris. I mean, doctors had to give Coach Huggins a pacemaker after a heart attack that he suffered 15 years ago. Now, right before half time, coach went down, clutching his chest. He had to be helped by his trainer.

He felt lightheaded after standing back up, but the coach stayed in the game and they got the win over Texas.

Later, Huggins talked about what happened.


BOB HUGGINS, WEST VIRGINIA HEAD COACH: All of a sudden, my defibrillator went off. Yes. I mean, but that's the second time it's gone off, what is it is it disrupts your heart back into rhythm. Unlike, you know, 99.99 percent of Americans my age in America, I've got AFib.


WARD: Now, the Kings and the Pelicans made it official yesterday, sending big man DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans in a trade. Now, Cousins is known for being emotional on the court and he showed it while saying goodbye to the fans in Sacramento.


DEMARCUS COUSINS, NBA STAR: My love for this city will never change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We love you, Boogie!



WARD: Cousins is expected to make his debut in New Orleans on Thursday against the rockets -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: All right, Hines. Thank you very much for all of that.

So, up next, how do voters think President Trump is doing one month in? We traveled to the battleground of Ohio and found that passions on both sides still run high. That's next.


[06:50:52] CAMEROTA: It has been one month since President Trump took office. So, how are voters feeling about him?

We traveled to Columbus, Ohio, to take the pulse of the heartland, and I sat down with the group of Trump supporters and Trump critics at the ladies gallery inside the Ohio state house. As you'll see, very quickly, our conversation turned to the big issues of faith and fear.


CAMEROTA: How many people here are very excited by what they've seen in the past month?


CAMEROTA: You three are very excited.

Dennis, tell me what the good signs are? What are you most excited about?

DENNIS MCKIRAHAN, RETIRED SALESPERSON: I am a Christian and from my perspective that I'm seeing hope in what I call religious freedom and restoring some values that we look at from our perspective, you know?

CAMEROTA: And what has Mr. Trump done that has given you that hope?

MCKIRAHAN: Well, I think the fact that he's already gotten the vice president who definitely stands firm in my belief, very firm, I really believe in him. He's a very conservative man. I think he'll be good for everybody.

CAMEROTA: Kris, tell me what good signs you see?

KRIS MCCURRY, MORTGAGE BANKER: From a business perspective, I think it's jobs turning around. I would like to see everything go back to America. Too many jobs have gone overseas.


SARA MARIE BRENNER, FORMER DELAWARE COUNTY CHAIRMAN FOR TRUMP CAMPAIGN: I'm a big school choice person and my husband and I both do a lot of work in that arena, and so, I'm just excited that we're going down that path too. And whatever you think of Betsy DeVos, I think she's in a position to implement Trump's policies.

CAMEROTA: OK. This side of the table, I'm sensing you feel differently.

REV. MARY RHEIMAN, PASTOR, TREE OF LIFE COMMUNITY: We have to really find our integrity again, and that's what concerns me most maybe, is that I see a lack of integrity in this administration.

CAMEROTA: Michael?

MICHAEL MILISITS, PREMISE TECHNICIAN: What we've seen in the first month is his administration is in disarray. We have no national security apparatus. Our national security adviser has stepped down because he's been implicated in violations of the Logan Act with the Russians. I mean, that's real concern and we can't say, oh, we're going to give him a chance.

I mean, it's almost on the level of Nixonian-style scandal in just a month. CAMEROTA: Christian?

CHRISTIAN TAMTE, FOUNDER OF RISE TRAVEL LLC: I am heartbroken often, Alisyn. This last month has been heartbreaking. And as a Christian I'm offended often by what other people are calling Christian behavior which is -- I see it as farthest from that. And --

CAMEROTA: Such as?

TAMTE: The immigration, there's so much lack of empathy for anyone that's different from themselves and they, oftentimes, people that are claiming to be doing this in the name of Christ, in the name of God, it's offensive to me. It's offensive to me as a Christian because it is so far from what God has laid out as a plan for us.

CAMEROTA: What do you think and feel when you hear everybody talking about how quite concerned they are?

MCKIRAHAN: Well, first of all, I would apologize for the Christian faith if we ourselves are causing any of this problem because Jesus said we're to love one another.

CAMEROTA: But do you think --

MCKIRAHAN: But we're not one. We're totally separated. But even within the Republican Party we're separated.

CAMEROTA: Right. But as a Christian, do you think that the travel ban is less compassionate?

MCKIRAHAN: Every president, the last six presidents have had a travel ban of some kind of the foreign entry and even in the Obama administration has admitted that's where most of the problems have come from, those people, those groups. And it's true because you don't see Israelis coming in here and bombing people.

CAMEROTA: But you don't see Syrian refugees coming in and bombing people either.

MCKIRAHAN: Well, Syria, I think the problem with Syria is the fact that many of the people that come, if you noticed, are men more than women and children.

CAMEROTA: I don't know that to be true.

MCKIRAHAN: What I'm finding, it would seem to be true.

[06:55:02] And I do agree the vetting process that they're using should be strong enough, but evidently, there are still problems. We know this for a fact, Muslims are not separating government and their faith. It's one thing.

CAMEROTA: Do you guys want to take this on? Mary, are you a minister?

RHEIMAN: I am a minister. CAMEROTA: How do you feel when you hear people like Dennis say

Muslims are in a different category?

RHEIMAN: I don't buy it. If you go to the gospels, if you were -- I mean, we can look at the story of Jesus and the woman with the well. She was a Samaritan and Jews and Samaritans back in that day hated each other. There was a social contract that they did not speak to each other.

Jesus' message was about, look, we are in this together, we are one. You can say you're Muslim, and I'm Christian, it doesn't matter.

BRENNER: I don't really believe in most of what you said. So --

CAMEROTA: What parts?

BRENNER: When you -- well, yes, so I guess just coming down on what has been said, I don't care if someone is Christian. I don't care if they're Muslim. I don't care if they're Hindu.

But in this day and age, we do have laws and we do have ways of coming into this country. I do not hate Muslims. I do not hate, you know, people who are refugees. That is not what this is about.

I wish that you all didn't think that that's what we thought because it truly isn't. At the end of the day. it's simply a matter of when someone comes here wherever they're from, I want to know that when they come here, that they want to be here for the right reasons and that when they come here, they're going to assimilate.

TAMTE: We don't believe that you hate Muslims, any of you, or -- I think that that -- those people are quite few that hate Muslims. I think that's pretty rare.

By the way, both sides of this are fiercely patriotic and I think that's the one common ground that we have, is that we love this country. We want to be safe and we want everyone as you just said to assimilate.

MCKIRAHAN: When Muslims want to make it Sharia law. They're assuming the law of our land is not good enough for them.

CAMEROTA: There is not a Sharia law. I don't think that that law supersedes our Constitution.

MCKIRAHAN: Thank you. I don't think any of us want that.


MCKIRAHAN: That's a part of our fear.

CAMEROTA: That is a part of your fear.

MCKIRAHAN: That's a big, big part of the fear.

CAMEROTA: Dennis, I hear what you're saying. You're scared. You're scared.

MCKIRAHAN: I'm scared for my family. I'm scared for my daughters and grandchildren. I'm scared for your children.

TAMTE: He ran on a full campaign of fear and he continues to do that. Every time he says it, he tells you how horrible it is and then he leaves it for you to just eat it up and sit in it and be afraid.

MCKIRAHAN: I don't think Trump is saying he's against somebody who values differently than him. He's saying, I'm here to protect every American citizen. Did he not say that? Everybody's rights.

TAMTE: Here's the thing also remember. When you're afraid of all the Muslims coming in and blowing us up and shooting us, most of them are white Americans doing. People are afraid of very dangerous things and they believe the things that stack up with what they have. I do think that that's the case for some Trump supporters out there. And that is what I'm seeing happening a lot and that's not putting your faith in God either.


CUOMO: Quite the theological discussion you had there. What did you pick up from them that you hadn't heard before?

CAMEROTA: Well, look. You know me, I often look for places of common ground. I like to bring people together so they hear each other and they have some understanding of each other.

I felt there that maybe that's not going to be possible for the next few years. There wasn't a lot of common ground. Humanity-wise, everybody likes each other. Everybody was civil and courteous and we all took pictures and everybody likes each other on a human basis, but in terms of finding common ground that they would all agree on, other than patriotism, it was hard to find.

CUOMO: It would be interesting if you had some refugees or Muslim citizens in the room, because one good point that came out of it, I thought, it's not so much about hate, it's fear. Fear of the potential, fear of the unknown, and that's just as powerful

CAMEROTA: And most Syrian refugees, we should clarify, are women and children. The State Department says 2016, 78 percent are women and children.

CUOMO: And wherever they are, they're not creating crimes here in a way that should cause panic.

CAMEROTA: Good point.

Thanks for international viewers for watching us. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" is next.

For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) LT. GEN. H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I look forward to joining the national security team.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's a man of tremendous talent.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was disappointed to learn the facts that have been conveyed to me by General Flynn were inaccurate.

UNIDENTIED MALE: I'm encouraged by everything I've heard about this general.

TRUMP: Thank you very much. What a team.

CUOMO: A new wave of bomb threats in Jewish community centers across the country.

CAMEROTA: How is the White House responding to the anti-Semitism?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Trump administration preparing to roll out a new travel ban executive order.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the end of the day, this is not making us safer.

JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We will have a short phase in period to make sure that people don't get on airplanes.