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Latest Poll on Trump Approval and Russia Ties; FBI Asks DOJ to Refute Trump's Wiretapping Claim; New Trump Travel Ban Expected Today; Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired March 6, 2017 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:31:26] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: A new CNN-ORC poll out just this morning shows a majority of Americans are either very concerned or somewhat concerned that members of the Trump campaign had contacts with Russian officials and they believe Congress should not handle the investigation.
Here to break down the new poll numbers, CNN political director, David Chalian. What are you seeing, David?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Good morning, Alisyn. As you said a majority indeed are concerned. Somewhat are very. 55 percent very or somewhat concerned about these alleged Trump-Russian ties.
Now partisanship is driving a lot of this. This is mostly Democrats and independents driving this. But still overall 55 percent. Republicans as you might suspect are a little less concerned.
Let's get to that other point you just made. Who should investigate this? Look at this, nearly two-thirds of Americans believe an independent special prosecutor, not Congress, should investigate this. Republicans in Congress are going to start paying very close attention to this number. In fact 43 percent of Republicans believe a special prosecutor should look into this, not Congress.
How about Donald Trump's overall approval rating? It's holding steady, Alisyn. 45 percent approve, 52 percent disapprove. This is about where it was a month ago and we've seen all the negative headlines he has been battling in that time. It shows he's got a pretty descent floor of support, though obviously still historically lower at this point in his presidency than his predecessors.
And finally, look at how divided the country is. Will Donald Trump's policies move the country in the right direction or wrong direction? 49 percent say the right direction. 50 percent of Americans say the wrong direction -- Alisyn.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so a good point of the analysis right now is whether or not he is maintaining that support because of what he is doing or despite what he is doing.
So let's bring in CNN political analyst David Gregory. Let's continue this discussion. That is the question. You know, if the president looks at these poll numbers, I'm sure he will with his people, they'll say hey, if we stick to taxes and jobs and bringing in things that might help wages, we're in good shape here, because that's what people expect from us and yet look at everything the president is doing that dump cold water on that agenda.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And -- I mean, he simply can't control himself. I mean, that's clear. And nor can anyone else who is around him. I mean, for him to veer off into this state of affairs where he is accusing the former president of illegally wiretapping Trump Tower, him and his associates, and you have immediate push back from the FBI director and now the White House says no, we don't really accept that denial.
So the president who considers the press, the media an enemy of the state is now at war with the Intelligence Community, both foreign and domestic, and is completely distracting himself from what he said he wanted to do which was to help America win, to create new jobs. He had a good speech last week. He is the one who has put all of that at risk because he can't control his own behavior on Twitter of all things. That's the big issue.
And I think the larger issue beyond the polling, Chris and Alisyn, is what happens if there's a real provocation by an enemy of our president of this administration, a real crisis? I keep coming back to that because that's going to happen in all likelihood and then you test judgment, temperament and readiness to deal with something like that on behalf of the American people.
CAMEROTA: Some people say it's already happening with North Korea.
David Chalian, these -- correct me if I'm wrong, these poll numbers that you just told us, they --the poll was taken before this week with all the latest the news.
CHALIAN: The bulk of the poll, Alisyn, was taken before the weekend. Some of it -- some of the interviews were conducted, very few were conducted after his Saturday morning tweets.
[07:35:07] CAMEROTA: OK. That's interesting. But isn't it interesting, David Chalian, that 45 percent of respondents say, nah, not really that concerned about Russia connections?
CHALIAN: Yes, again, I think we're seeing partisanship drive a lot of that concern. If you're a Republican and you're with Trump you believe that all of this is just people coming at him who want to discredit or devalue his legitimacy. And -- but that doesn't mean that it shouldn't give pause to the White House because it is still a majority of Americans who do express concern.
I do want to pick up on two things David Gregory just said. One, talk about his strength of issues. We see in this poll 55 percent of Americans approve of the way he is handling the economy. That's 10 points higher than his overall job approval. It's something that he talked about quite a bit in his speech that was well-received.
You would think anybody looking at poll numbers would say hey, let's lean into this. This is our -- this is our strong suit. Let's be sure we're talking about the economy every single day. The fact that he chose not to is certainly befuddling.
And then when you think about what he was tweeting about Saturday morning, guys, just ask this question, if indeed it is not something that President Obama is capable of doing, if that's just not how the process works with FISA, it does beg the question if Donald Trump believes he did it does Donald Trump believe he has the power to order up a wiretap on an American citizen at will?
CUOMO: Well, look, there's so many different layers of why this doesn't work for the president but I think the most basic analysis goes to his own tweet. Put it up there. Just to show, like, what kind of legs he gave this situation just because of how he explained it?
"How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process? This is Nixon-Watergate. Bad or sick guy."
Now, David Gregory, we have to remember, I know that the chattering class loves this story. Why deal with the difficulties and complexity of health care or tax reform or anything, when you can just talk about this all day and people will probably be more interested, but this man as president of the United States has the ability to pick up a phone and say, is there a FISA warrant that had anything to do with me? Find out. I want my answer in five minutes. He will get an answer in five minutes about whether or not this is real. So it's not about the truth. It's about something else. And it has to be some kind of calculation.
But, David, tell me. Strain your faculties. How does this work for President Trump?
GREGORY: Well, because it delegitimizes those who are investigating him, who are trying to hold him accountable, that's the press, that's elements of the government, the intelligence community, the FBI. I mean, he wants to just kind of break all the circuits with all of that because you're exactly right. He could -- he could run this information down. That's not what he wants to do. He wants to create a public spectacle to create a huge distraction to get talk show hosts on the radio or Breitbart News running off with these conspiracy theories. And then maybe try to get Congress to bite at that, maybe prove some of this stuff in their own investigation.
But it just -- it's all a diversion, and he's not dealing with the serious issue of what Russia tried to do, what Russia will try to do again this year and again to him. I mean, again, what I find so amazing about all of this, is that it's never occurred to him that maybe the Russians are trying to manipulate him, his administration and other U.S. allies in a way that could be far more serious than whether Donald Trump thinks he looks bad having fairly and squarely won the election?
GREGORY: And instead he sees everything as -- and I think the other piece of this is how partisan this is. That we don't even have agreement based on our polling about whether the Russian attempt to manipulate the election is something that we can all agree is bad for America. That is about a huge -- break down in trust and institutions like the government, like the media. That's the kind of thing that's infecting our politics.
CUOMO: And just to be clear, in our reporting, Clapper who is the former director of National Intelligence.
CUOMO: He came out and said there were no warrants like this. Not Comey, according to our reporting.
CUOMO: But lower levels of the FBI, which may be more instructive because they're doing the work, right? They went to the DOJ and said push back on this wiretapping, it's not true.
CAMEROTA: All right. David Gregory and David Chalian, thank you very much for all the information.
CUOMO: So what we're going to do is we're going to dig into the legality of wiretapping. When is it used and how do you get permission to do it? That's next.
[07:43:16] CUOMO: Another viral disruption this weekend. President Trump going on a tweet storm accusing President Obama of a Nixon- Watergate style plot to tap the phones at Trump Tower during the campaign. He called President Obama bad or sick.
Now here's what we know. There is no proof that the -- the president has offered or that those surrounding these investigations have come forward with to justify these attacks.
Let's discuss this situation. We have former CIA officer, Evan McMullin. He launched a third party run against Mr. Trump. And we've got David Frum, senior editor for the "Atlantic."
Gentlemen, thank you for being here. Let's start with what are we talking about here with FISA. Put up some of the information for you guys at home as you try to figure your way through this about what FISA is. All right?
You've got this panel of 11 federal district court judges. And it's pretty simple, the concept here, is that if you want to do wiretaps, you want to collect electronic data, you need a judge to say that it's OK. This is part of our evolving relationship with surveillance, right? So they have to show that it's relevant. There's a legal standard involved. It's not that high but there is a process. So, Evan McMullin, the idea that the president picks up the phone and
says wiretap this guy, that's not how it works. We all accept that is true. But that's a little bit of a distraction to this distraction. It's about whether or not this was going on. Do you feel confident that Clapper, the FBI were pushing up to the DOJ, gives you a solid basis of reckoning that this wiretap doesn't exist?
EVAN MCMULLIN, LAUNCHED THIRTY PARTY RUN AGAINST TRUMP: Yes. Look, it would be hard to find a source more credible than James Clapper on this issue. He was director of National Intelligence.
[07:45:03] He didn't mince his words yesterday on the Sunday show. He said very clearly that there was not collection of intelligence like this against Donald Trump or his campaign during the campaign or as -- or after the campaign before the inauguration.
CUOMO: Critics will say Clapper, not only do I not believe him because what he said was true before but it was about collecting metadata, I don't believe him.
MCMULLIN: Well, look, that's true and you can have that complaint. Nobody is perfect. People say things that aren't accurate at time, and there was that episode with James Clapper, but still, I tend to believe this. And you also have the FBI pushing back trying to get the DOJ apparently, according to reports, to say no, there was not any collection like this.
But I think the important thing is that if there was this collection it either happened illegally or legally. Legally it would require this big process with the FISA, lots of people would be involved.
CUOMO: Which mean they felt there was a relevant basis to look at them.
MCMULLIN: They had information to show that.
MCMULLIN: If it was illegally, then you're talking about a conspiracy that would involve lots of different people. It would very hard to cover. And extremely unlikely. And that I think is what President Trump needs to demonstrate.
CUOMO: Now, David, we are seeing some tortured defense by Trump surrogates on this saying hey, look, he just wants an investigation. He just wants the Senate and the House to investigate it like they're investigating everything else. That's all he wants. That doesn't hold a lot of water here, though, David, because this is a situation where the man could pick up the phone, and know the answer to the question about whether or not this exists probably a lot faster than Congress.
DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: On the contrary, I think it's a terrific idea. And I think we should give the president exactly what he is demanding. James Clapper's denial, with reference to Trump campaign, didn't talk about the Trump Organization which has a long history of doing business with highly dubious and dangerous people inside Russia.
So I -- and I won't hold myself out as an expert on the FISA process, but if there is any kind of warrant because intelligence agencies believe that the Trump Organization or the Trump family were connected to Russian crime or Russian espionage, yes, I think we need to get to the bottom of that. So I think the answer to the president is absolutely yes, let's have an independent hearing, not with Devin Nunes, who's in the House Intelligence Committee, they've taken a side. Not with Richard Burr, they've made it clear they're not interested in finding anything.
But people who are credible and independent. Let's get to the bottom of this. Was the president or the Trump Organization or anyone around connected to Russian crime or Russian intelligence? That is a great question. Some of us have been asking for the answer to that for two years now.
CUOMO: David Frum did a very clever thing there.
MCMULLIN: Yes, he did.
CUOMO: He just undermined the premise of my question.
CUOMO: Because he has given a full throated approval of looking into the truth of the matters of this larger picture of any potential Russian connection to the Trump campaign. OK. Fine. Fair point. What I'm saying is, this is not candidate or citizen Trump. This is President Trump. He could know whether or not there was a FISA warrant. How true is that proposition?
MCMULLIN: I think it's very likely true. I mean, it could be that there's an investigation of the president that the Intelligence community or the law enforcement agencies don't want to reveal to the president. I'm not perhaps the best expert on that. But I think it's possible.
But what's concerning is that the president is taking action based on information he's receiving from far-right conspiratorial media outlets. That is highly concerning. Donald Trump, now the president of the United States, has access to more information than literally anyone else in the world and he is receiving information and being spun up and then taking action upon information that is coming from these less than credible, to put it nicely, sources.
So that's what's really concerning here and I agree with David Frum that we need a more serious investigation. Now there are a lot of people who say it should be one thing or another. People talk about an independent commission. The challenge with that is that you need a president to sign in a law that allows that happen or a veto proof majority in both chambers. That's unlikely to happen. So I think we need in Congress a special select committee that's bipartisan. Could be bicameral. Could be in the Senate, I don't think the House is credible right now on this, to investigate. And I also think we need a special counsel in the DOJ. Both of these
two investigations served different purposes and do different things. We need them both. It's very critical.
CUOMO: All right, David Frum, thank you very much. Evan McMullin, appreciate it. Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: All right. Chris, other news. President Trump is set to unveil his new travel ban as early as today. What's in it? Has the White House course corrected to clear all the legal hurdles? That's next.
[07:53:10] CAMEROTA: The new travel ban executive order could be announced today. How will it be different than the first one?
Joining us now to debate it, Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform or FAIR. He favors the president's actions on immigration. And Andre Segura, he is the staff attorney for the ACLU. He opposes the travel ban.
Gentlemen, it's great to have you here.
Dan, what do you understand about how the new revised version will look?
DAN STEIN, PRESIDENT, FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM: Clearly they've taken their time and they're going to make sure that they hopefully can draft an order that won't be attacked judicially. They'll probably exclude Iraq, maybe for political reasons. That doesn't really strengthen their case if that's the rationale. And they're going to have, as you point, a phase-in period and because they're going to exclude aliens who had substantial contact with the U.S. already like green card holders of f-1 visa, people who've been here for a while, and who are re-entering.
It's likely that's they're going to try to confine the population mostly to people who had no prior contact with the U.S. to try to minimize any possibility for legal standing. Now that doesn't mean that it won't be attacked. We know the ACLU doesn't want to have any immigration control, so they'll probably bring 50 different lawsuits to try to get one judge as they did in the Ninth Circuit to try to enjoin it and of course ultimately an injunction can put the whole thing on ice again for a while. But we hope that it will stand scrutiny.
CAMEROTA: Andre, you don't want any immigration controls? You want open borders?
ANDRE SEGURA, ACLU STAFF ATTORNEY: Look, it's important to just respond to what Dan said. This is likely going to be the same pig with just a different shade of lipstick. Honestly, he said something that was really important. He said they took their time. And that's important for everyone to think about. Why did they take their time? It's purely for publicity. There's no
security rationale behind President Trump's motives. He wanted this to have its own moment, he want his address to have its own moment. If this were really about the security of the country, we would see them doing this and doing it fast.
CAMEROTA: Dan, isn't that the fly in the ointment here, that originally when they did it, it had to happen immediately?
[07:55:03] They caused chaos at the airports because it had to happen so quickly for national security. And now weeks later they've delayed it week after week, day after day. So what happened to that national security reason?
STEIN: But, Alisyn, this is the whole problem with having judicial interference in something for the last 100 years has been committed to the president and powers delegated by Congress in his role as commander-in-chief. Historically judges never want to get in a position of second-guessing national security judgments involving things happening overseas, whether it's immigration or refugee admissions, or foreign policy, wars, prosecution of foreign wars.
These things have historically been outside so -- outside the jurisdiction of judicial scrutiny. Think about it, if ISIS-related terrorist operatives came into the country between when the TRO was issued in Spokane, and now when they issued a new executive order, who is politically accountable for that decision? If some of the ISIS operatives commit terror attacks who came in during this period, the American people have no venue for political accountability now. The courts have basically taken control of something that has to be within the purview of the executive.
CAMEROTA: Go ahead, Andre.
SEGURA: You really have to listen to what Mr. Stein is saying. He's asking for no judicial review over the president's actions over people's lives. That's really an incredible position to be taking right now. And that is certainly not the case. Courts have been willing -- more willing over the past several decades to take presidents to task. There's no complete plenary power over immigration as Mr. Stein would like. There needs to be a judicial check. That's the country --
STEIN: You must be kidding.
SEGURA: That's the country that we need. And this is just pure fear tactics. That's what Mr. Stein wants, he wants there just to be fear. And with fear we see how easy it is to elect someone.
CAMEROTA: But, Andre, let me stick with you for a second because what we understand from our reporting that legal permanent residents, meaning green cardholders, will be exempt, visa holders exempt. They will avoid prioritizing any religious minorities and there will be a phase-in period so it doesn't all happen sort of immediately and cause chaos. Would that satisfy the ACLU?
SEGURA: No. I think we'll have to look at the details. But as Mr. Miller came out, one of President Trump's top aides, and said, this is going to have the same policy outcome. We're going to try to rewrite this. But at the end of the day we're trying to achieve the same goals. And what were Mr. Trump's goals from the beginning? To call for a complete and total shutdown of Muslim immigration. And that's exactly what he's going to try to do. They can try to rewrite this a thousand different ways. Looks like they're conceding that their first ban was a failure and, you know, and are moving on to another one and they're trying to twist themselves into circles to come up with something that passes muster. And this is just not going to fly.
CAMEROTA: But what would satisfy you, Andre? I mean, in terms of -- if the president wants to protect the country and doesn't think the vetting process goes far enough, what would the ACLU be satisfied with?
SEGURA: I think we need to look at the details but there needs to be some legitimate security basis for doing what Mr. Trump wants to do. And he asked his own intelligence agency, the DHS, for that information. And they said actually country of citizenship is not a reliable indicator. What more do you need?
CAMEROTA: Dan, I mean, basically what Andre is saying is that Mr. Trump is fixing something that ain't broke.
STEIN: Well, look, the ACLU is saying that it should be the arbiter of what constitutes a national security basis for a power that for the last hundred years has been delegated by Congress to the president to protect the American people. Nobody is interested in giving the ACLU carte blanch authority to use our courts to prosecute a political agenda.
If Donald Trump is trying to stop Muslim immigration, he is failing miserably because this order only affects a fraction of 1 percent, not only of Muslims but of people worldwide. So every time you repeat this ridiculous comment that it's a Muslim ban, you are actually helping radical extremists in the Middle East who -- to pursue their agenda. And whatever the ACLU's intention here, to try to get courts to use things like the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment to second-guess immigration policy decisions delegated by Congress -- by the Constitution to Congress, the American people, strikes at the very heart of sovereignty.
Remember, the president is the commander-in-chief. If we have a sovereign -- you know, that devolves into one person under our constitutional system, the close approximation is the president, he has to be able to prosecute foreign wars.
CAMEROTA: OK. Yes.
STEIN: Control the borders and conduct foreign policy.
CAMEROTA: Andre, your response? SEGURA: That's just crazy. I mean, he said things like the First
Amendment, the Fourth Amendment. That's the bedrock -- those are the bedrock principles of this country. And that's what the ACLU stands for. The ACLU is not in a position to be making these decisions for the president. We have never said that. But we are in a position to take a president to task when he does do things that violate the Constitution.
CAMEROTA: Dan Stein, Andre Segura --
STEIN: Well, that's for people who've never set foot in this country.
CAMEROTA: Dan, we need to leave it there but we will have you back as soon as we know the actual specifics in the travel ban. Thank you both very much.
STEIN: Thank you.
SEGURA: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: We're following a lot of news this morning so let's get right to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSH EARNEST, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This may come as some surprise to the current occupant of the oval office, but the president does not have the authority to unilaterally order the wiretapping of an American citizen.
CAMEROTA: President Trump accusing President Obama of wiretapping, but offering no evidence.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Information that he's saying led him to believe that this is a very real potential.
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR: There was no sorts of wiretap activity mounted against the president-elect.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: FBI asked the Justice Department to refute the president's assertion.
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: This is just a distraction.
CAMEROTA: North Korea's latest provocation is triggering a warning to the --