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FBI Asks Justice Department to Refute Trump's Wiretap Claims; Trump Administration Set to Unveil New Travel Ban. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired March 6, 2017 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" is next. For our U.S. viewers, what is true? Let's get after it right now.
[07:00:11] SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: The president of the United States did not tap Donald Trump's phone.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: The FBI is now asking the Justice Department to publicly refute the allegations.
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: There was no such wiretap activity.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He's made very clear what he believes, and he's asking that we get down to the bottom of this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are remarkable allegations. This deserves full investigation.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO DONALD TRUMP: Russia, Russia, Russia. Why not add to that investigation?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: The president, you know, is the deflector in chief.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America.
CUOMO: The White House expected to announce the president's new travel ban as early as today.
TRUMP: It is not compassionate but reckless to allow uncontrolled entry.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY and your new week. President Trump's claim that he was wiretapped on orders from President Obama is stirring things up for the intelligence community, because nobody can seem to provide any support for the president's assertion. In fact the FBI reportedly calling on the Justice Department to
publicly deny the president's accusation. Mr. Trump now demanding Congress investigate President Obama for what he calls "executive abuses."
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Democrats accuse the president of trying to create a diversion to deflect attention away from his administration's ties to Russia. The White House attempting to move forward by announcing that the president does plan to sign that new travel ban order today.
It is day 46 of the Trump administration, and CNN has all of the angles covered for you, starting with CNN Washington correspondent Joe Johns live at the White House. Good morning, Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.
The White House facing an extremely tough sell on this story this morning. Questions of credibility, questions of judgment, swirling around the White House and the Oval Office. Among other things, a former director of national intelligence and the sitting director of the FBI both contradicting the assertions of the president of the United States.
JOHNS (voice-over): President Trump's unfounded claim that former President Obama ordered his phones to be wiretapped in the midst of last year's election coming under fire. Sources say the FBI is now asking the Justice Department to publicly refute the allegations, but so far, the Justice Department has remained silent.
Such wiretapping of a U.S. citizen's phones would be illegal or require a court order under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who spearheaded the investigation into Russia's meddling in the election, giving a firm "no" to any such claim of wiretapping.
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: For the part of the national security apparatus that I oversaw as DNI, there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign.
JOHNS: Multiple former senior U.S. officials dismissing President Trump's allegation, calling it nonsense. And a spokesman for Mr. Obama says it's "simply false." But without providing any evidence, the White House is doubling down, calling for a congressional investigation to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused.
SANDERS: I think he's made very clear what he believes.
I think the bigger story isn't who reported it but is it true?
JOHNS: White House officials say the president's sources on the incendiary claim come from conservative media, not from government sources. In fact, there are zero publicly-known credible reports to back up Mr. Trump's claim.
His allegations coming in a familiar form: a series of furious tweets early Saturday morning from his home in Florida, in which he called former President Obama a "bad or sick guy." His top advisers far away in Washington.
This is not the president's first time repeating unsubstantiated allegations. Just after his own inauguration, Mr. Trump alleged that millions of fraudulent votes were cast during the election without proof.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you look at the people that are registered dead, illegal in two states.
JOHNS: The president called for an investigation, but one has yet to be conducted.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I have no -- I'm not sure what it is he is talking about.
JOHNS: This latest allegation of wiretapping leaving some Republicans confused as top Democrats call the Twitter outburst a complete distraction.
PELOSI: The president, you know, is the deflector in chief.
JOHNS: An intentional move to stir focus away from the deepening concerns over connections between a handful of the president's advisers and Russians.
FRANKEN: I think this is just a distraction to distract from this very, very serious interference by a foreign power on our democracy. The question of whether Trump world, his campaign, his business associates, had anything to do with it.
FRANKEN: President Trump arrived back here at the White House last night after spending the weekend at his home in Florida. He's expected to have a series of meetings today with members of his cabinet -- Chris and Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, Joe. Thank you very much.
Other big news today, the White House is set to unveil its new revised travel ban; and the executive order could be signed as early as today. Sources telling CNN that top Trump advisers want one key country removed from the list. So let's bring in CNN justice reporter Laura Jarrett, live in Washington. What do we know, Laura?
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, we expect to see some big changes in this new executive order. The most significant difference will likely be who is covered by the travel ban, as sources tell us that the new executive order will exclude legal permanent residents or green card holders and those with existing visas at the time the order is signed. But even with all of these changes, immigration lawyers have signaled
to us that it's still safe to expect a flurry of swift legal action after this new order is signed, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: What countries or country might be left off the list?
JARRETT: Well, we've heard that several of the top members of the president's cabinet, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, specifically wanted Iraq moved from the list of previously banned countries for diplomatic reasons, including Iraq's role in fighting ISIS. So we'll have to wait and see on that one, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK. So how will -- what about the delays, what we saw after the original executive order? How did they fix that?
JARRETT: Well, it's just going to be really interesting to see how this narrative plays out in court, right? Because, to the extent that the administration took its time here to rewrite the travel ban to comply with that court order, that judge in Seattle, no one is going to blame them for trying to get it right. Certainly, no judge.
But if, in fact, they delayed the rollout for some other political reason, then that could come back to bite them the minute a government lawyer starts using words like "emergency" or "urgency" in court again.
CAMEROTA: Got it. OK, Laura. Thanks so much for all of that explanation -- Chris.
CUOMO: All right. Let's discuss the state of play with Republican congressmen and chairmen of the House Rules Committee, Pete Sessions, Texas.
Congressman, good to see you this morning.
REP. PETE SESSIONS (R-TX), HOUSE RULES COMMITTEE: Good morning, Chris.
CUOMO: All right. So we've got one political situation to deal with, one policy situation to deal with. So let's take on the politics here. This is a heavy charge being made by the president of the United States. He's accusing a former president of not only breaking the law but conspiracy against him, and he doesn't seem to have a shred of proof, Pete, even though he's a phone call away from the answer.
SESSIONS: You know, everything you're talking about, Chris, and I've watched this morning. I watched David Drucker and his ideas. You remember my father was director of the FBI.
CUOMO: Yes, sire.
SESSIONS: And the FBI -- the FBI is a magnificent organization that does have their reputation on the line. I believe that the president said what he said. The FBI is going to say what they're going to say. As I've said many times, you had people put it in writing, and then you leave it alone.
The president of the United States is going to have to, I believe, find out if he wants to continue this issue he has an answer. But the bottom line is, Chris, that the president has much on his agenda. And we do in Congress, too. And this is not going to overplay our ability to move forward with what Donald Trump talked about.
And that is the American people want and need to have jobs, and the credibility of this government must be -- must be played out here. And that's what we're trying to do, as members of Congress. We're going to back up not just what the president's asking for. We're going to back up with the common sense. And that is, we're going to ask the questions. We're going to expect people to answer properly. And we, the United States Congress -- Richard Burr, Devin Nunes are gentlemen of high honor and distinction. They'll answer the question. Then the president is going to have to take our answer.
CUOMO: Right. But you know, Congressman, just to be clear, he can get his own answer. He can find out if there was a FISA warrant about him faster than anybody else can right now. I know he had his counsel digging around. I'm just saying, this is on him. I get you that it's a distraction. There's no question about that. Absent proof.
But unlike before, when he was running or when he was a citizen, he can prove his own allegation right now. He is the most powerful man in the world. He's the one who upped the ante here, accusing a former president of breaking the law and of conspiring against him. Clapper comes out and says no such warrant. The FBI, as you know, pushing the DOJ to say that the wiretapping story is bogus. We've never heard of pushback like this against the president, and again, the answer is in his own control. So this is a distraction. Why is he doing it, Pete?
SESSIONS: Well, what I'm suggesting to you is he has asked Devin Nunes in particular to please give back an answer. I assume Devin will need to do that. And in doing that, it will provide the answer back to Donald Trump.
[07:10:07] CUOMO: Yes, but he doesn't need Nunes. That's all I'm saying. I understand politically why he would want to add to that investigation, muddy the waters a little bit, make it not just about him, essentially. You know, add to the leaks aspect of this, but he can answer these questions about a FISA warrant. This is the president we're talking about, not some reporter.
SESSIONS: Well, look, Chris, you and I don't disagree with that. What I'm suggesting to you is a third-party valuation is always good, and it will -- and it will offer the -- all of us, including members of Congress, something that we can count on. What we've got to do is go back as members of Congress and do our job.
CUOMO: I hear you.
SESSIONS: And that is what we're trying to do this week also, and we're going to do it.
CUOMO: And, look, you've got a lot to deal with on that front. And if the president looks at his poll numbers, why does he have this basis of support? A lot of reasons. But among the top of them, people are waiting for tax reform. They want better health care. They want more jobs. They want more pay. And they are investing hope in your party, and then the president to deliver it. The ACA is a big piece of that.
I know that you're a student of that game. You have problems within your own party. I keep having people come on this show, Congressman Sessions, and say, "Yes, yes, we're going to deal with the Medicaid expansion. That's good. But we're going to do it with a tax credit."
What are they going to -- what are you going to double the cost of Obamacare? Is that really the answer that we're going to have offered?
SESSIONS: Well, whether it -- let me say this, whether you double the cost or not, I don't -- I don't think we're going to do that at all.
What we're going to do is Republican have better ideas on how to fix health care. And the daunting issue is still, Chris, is that people go without coverage, they're going to show up at the most expensive point of health care. And that is an emergency room. And Republicans do understand this, and so we allow individuals and the tax credits at the heart of this. If we allow all individuals to have the same tax advantage, they can be responsible for a fair shot at getting health care.
And we are struggling with that. And Republicans are going to have to come up with an answer. We said we could deliver, and we've got to. But we do have better ideas, and it's called, instead of individual coverage, it will be allowing individuals to be in groups of people, which then can sustain themself from a -- from a position. Not just insurance, but paying for all of us.
CUOMO: I know that...
SESSIONS: Republicans are going to deliver that.
CUOMO: Pete Sessions, I know that for you, making sure that, at least the equal number of people covered right now will be covered and that even more will be covered is a priority. I get that. But I don't see that in some of these ideas that are coming forward.
You have one distribution issue when it comes to the tax credits. Should someone who makes a good living get the same kind of tax credit that somebody who's struggling gets. In the current situation with the ACA does a lot more means testing that way with caps on income. But the bigger concern is that access to coverage is not actual coverage. And we keep hearing about people having access. That could mean that people aren't going to get the coverage. They're going to drop off the roles, especially in lower income levels. That's going to be a problem.
SESSIONS: Chris, the bottom line is the reason why the Republican plan is more expensive, is because more people actually do get coverage. It's quite the reverse of a scenario that says that you can't find a doctor. You would find a doctor, and that is why it's more expensive. If people actually are allowed an opportunity to have fair and free access, just as I am on a pretax basis, if they get their pretax advantage through a tax credit that's available January 1st of the year, in which they enroll. It is expensive.
But it's no more expensive, no more expensive than this today. But it will allow people actually to go to the doctor instead of something that they cannot use.
I am on Obamacare. Members of Congress are on Obamacare, and it is twice as expensive. And it is the coverage that we do not want. So we're going to make sure that America gets a better chance, and it will cost no more than what it does today.
CUOMO: Details will matter. I know that you're on this. When they come out, please come back on. Let's suss through them, make sure the American people are getting a good deal. Pete Sessions, appreciate the perspective.
SESSIONS: We need to stick to our promises, Chris.
CUOMO: Well, we'll be here to help you do that. Be well, Congressman -- Allison.
CAMEROTA: All right. We have some breaking news right now. The U.S. and South Korea condemning the latest ballistic missile launch by North Korea. Officials confirmed that Pyongyang fired four projectiles that travelled nearly 600 miles, three of them landing about 200 miles off the coast of Japan. The Japanese call this, quote, "an extremely dangerous action." The U.S. says it's prepared to use a full range of capabilities against the growing threat.
[07:15:11] CUOMO: The Japanese say this time it's different. If the trajectory had been a little bit different, it might have made land. So...
Another story, the naval criminal investigation service NCIS launching an investigation after hundreds of explicit photos of current and former female Marines were found on a social media site. Officials say this private Facebook group called Marines United contained a link where the photos were being stored without the women's knowledge. It's not known how many Marines may have been involved. Hence, the investigation.
CAMEROTA: Well, Alabama state lawmakers moving forward with talks on impeaching their governor, Robert Bentley. The lawmakers are trying to oust the governor after audio recordings reveal sexually explicit conversations between Bentley and a former aide. He has apologized and maintains he did nothing illegal.
CUOMO: Raises an interesting question, right? What is the standard for behavior in office? Is it just the law? Or is it about the moral, as well?
CAMEROTA: And where do they get the audio recordings? And is everybody being listened to? CUOMO: Yes.
CUOMO: Be careful what you say.
CAMEROTA: I know we are at this moment.
CUOMO: People are listening to us.
CAMEROTA: I know.
CUOMO: The president insisting and again, remember, no proof. President Obama got warrants to wiretap him during the campaign. Democrats say that claim is stunning and stunningly untrue. The FBI says to the DOJ, "Push back, it's untrue." We're going to get reaction from a Michigan senator, Gary Peters, next.
[07:20:43] CAMEROTA: President Trump claiming that -- offering no evidence, that the Obama White House wiretapped him. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say they want proof.
Joining us now, Democratic Senator Gary Peters of Michigan. Good morning, Senator.
SEN. GARY PETERS (D), MICHIGAN: Well good morning.
CAMEROTA: What do you think is behind President Trump claiming that he was wiretapped?
PETERS: It's difficult to know what is behind it. I know what certainly appears to be, however, is just a distraction. He has put out, really, a very serious charge but with no evidence to back it up.
And the curious thing about it is he certainly has the power to back it up. As president of the United States, he can ask that question very directly of the FBI, find out if there was a FISA court ruling that allowed a wiretap to occur. He has not offered that.
And quite frankly, I think it's just an attempt to distract from the very serious news, where we have Attorney General Sessions recusing himself from what should be an independent and fair investigation of what's going on with the Russians and the Trump administration.
CAMEROTA: But this is the part I don't understand. How is it a distraction to then say that you were wiretapped, because the FBI believed that the servers in Trump Tower were somehow doing a dubious transaction or business with Russian banks? How is that a distraction?
PETERS: I don't get it, as well, but the fact that you put this information out and we're talking about it now. So if his -- if his plan is to have us talking about something else, he's succeeded, because that's where the discussion is.
PETERS: When what we should be talking about is the cover up. I mean, we have key administration officials who are clearly, clearly covering up their interactions with the Russians, whether it's Attorney General Sessions, the top law enforcement officer of the country, whether it was General Flynn and his misrepresentations to the vice president. You know, if these are all on the up and up, why do you cover it up? And that's a lot of smoke that needs to be investigated in a fair, open way.
And I think Mr. -- or President Trump realizes this is going very badly for him; and he's -- he may be grasping for straws right now.
CAMEROTA: But you're saying that he could get the answer definitively with one phone call to director of the FBI James Comey. Is it incumbent upon Director Comey to come out in the national interest, now that these major accusations have been made against President Obama and say whether or not the FBI got a FISA warrant to wiretap the Trump Towers and team Trump?
PETERS: Yes, I think it is incredibly important. This goes to a very serious issue. You know, we have the credibility of the president of the United States, making an incredibly serious charge against his predecessor.
We have to know that the president of the United States, when he makes serious charges, is actually backed by -- by evidence, actually backed by some real facts. The American people need to know that.
You know, he will be in front of some very tough issues. I serve on the Armed Services Committee, Homeland Security. There will be some very serious national security issues this country will surely face in the next few years. And the question is, can we trust the president of the United States to actually provide facts to the American people?
It is incumbent we get to the bottom of this. But we should not be distracted from the true case here, which is whether or not the administration was involved with the Russians in what was clearly, clearly, as a result of the work of 17 intelligence agencies, a concerted effort to influence the election. Those are also very serious issues that need to be investigated, and it should be done in a fair, open process where the American people can get a good look at what actually happened.
CAMEROTA: Look, as you know, normally, the director of the FBI doesn't exert himself into this sorts of public disputes when there's an ongoing investigation. He broke that rule, as we all know, because he felt that it was of such vital importance to sort off explain what was going on with Hillary Clinton's e-mail servers.
And maybe it's time, given this, to break that rule again. In fact, it sounds like there are some top Trump advisers, including Kellyanne Conway, who think that Director Comey should come out and definitively explain whether or not there was any wiretapping. [07:25:06] Let me play for you Kellyanne Conway this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO DONALD TRUMP: If Mr. Comey has something he'd like to say, I'm sure we're all willing to hear it. All I saw was a published news report. I didn't see a statement from him. And so I don't know what Mr. Comey knows.
And if he knows, of course, he can issue a statement. But -- and we know he's not shy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Senator, are you calling for him to come forward today?
PETERS: Well, again, let's go right back to the president. He can just pick up the phone and get this information right -- right away. This is not a big process.
CAMEROTA: Yes, but would you trust, then -- would you trust President Trump to then come out and say, "I just made a phone call to whomever, Director Comey and I have proof positive that, in fact, they illegally wiretapped me." I mean, would you take that as the definitive answer?
PETERS: Well, not just his word. We'd actually have to see the evidence of that occurring. So if Mr. Comey backs that up, if you get a statement from the FBI, clearly.
But we don't have to be going all in different directions, trying to get different folks to come clear. The president can ask these folks to make these statements. You know, I believe in the reputation of the FBI. The FBI is a fine organization of patriotic Americans who are a part of it.
This information is fairly -- fairly straightforward to get. But again, we are now spending time talking about this while we're not talking about what seems to be a cover up of key Trump officials in their involvement with Russian officials during the election. That -- its' clear why they are doing what they are doing. We need to have a special prosecutor, someone who's going to have an independent investigation of this, to look at all the smoke that we see.
I'm a pretty straight-forward practical guy. When you see a lot of smoke, there's usually some fire behind it. And the American people need to have a clear evaluation of what exactly occurred. These are serious charges all across the board.
PETERS: We have very important issues we have to deal with as a country. Significant problems that are impacting everyday Americans. And to be distracted by all of the smoke, we have to get beyond it. Let's clear that smoke. Let's have the investigation. Let's move forward as a country and do what's best for the American people.
CAMEROTA: Senator Gary Peters, thanks so much for being on NEW DAY.
PETERS: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right. So are Americans worried about the Trump administration's alleged ties to Russia? We're going to break down a new CNN poll. There is good news for the president in there. Next.