Return to Transcripts main page


Source: FBI Director Comey "Incredulous" Over Trump's Tweets; Trump Aides Defend Wiretapping Claims. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired March 7, 2017 - 06:30   ET



[06:31:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. President Trump reaching out to reassure the leaders of South Korea and Japan, following the latest provocation from North Korea. The president saying the U.S. remains committed to security in the Korean Peninsula. This comes as the U.S. dispatches an anti-missile defense system to South Korea to keep it safe.

North Korea is banning Malaysian residents from leaving. Why? Well, Malaysia is preventing North Korean residents from leaving. In response, this is going both ways, all over the death of Kim Jong-un's half brother.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump proposing cutting funds to Planned Parenthood unless Planned Parenthood stops providing abortion. Planned Parenthood gets about $500 million a year. And thanks to the Hyde Amendment, that money goes toward health services, not abortion services.

CUOMO: All right. More bad weather -- severe storms overnight hitting the nation's midsection. How's it going to look? Is it going to get better?

Meteorologist Chad Myers has the forecast.

What do you see?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLIST: I see more storms today, Chris, but not as many. There were 400 reports of damage yesterday and some of these tornadoes made major damage.

Now, the forecast for today is brought to you by Purina, your pet, our passion.

So, still, a severe weather today this afternoon but mainly southeast of where those storms were yesterday. We still have some rain showers. We still even a tornado watch in effect. A severe thunderstorm watch that was in effect a little bit ago, now things are calming down a little bit, but they will fire back up. There's the severe thunderstorm watch there just issued. That will be going through this afternoon. The weather gets into Atlanta, to Nashville, all the way up even toward the Northeast for later this afternoon. If you're flying through the Southeast, make sure you keep your seat belt on. It will be a bumpy ride across the area, if you have to fly over those. The winds are still blowing. We've had many, many reports of wildfires in the plains. They'll try to get those out later this afternoon, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Chad, thanks for keeping an eye on that for us.

Meanwhile, FBI Director James Comey clashing with President Trump over his wiretapping claims. So, what's Comey's next move? We discuss.


[06:37:07] CUOMO: FBI Director Jim Comey butting heads with President Trump, kind of. Comey hasn't said anything in public but it is reported that he was, quote, "incredulous over the president's claim that he was wiretapped by the Obama White House."

Where does this fight go?

Let's discuss. We have Phil Mudd, CNN counterterrorism analyst and former CIA counterterrorism official, and Tom Fuentes, CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI assistant director.

Now, the last time we saw this dust-up between Trump and the intel community, not long after that, the dossier came out from leaked sources. So, obviously, nobody wants to see this game being played. It doesn't help anybody.

Let me give you two pieces of sound and get your reactions to them in terms of what the state of play is.

Here is Michael Hayden and what he said about this, obviously former intel chief.


MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: My first instinct is I want to get angry, all right? And I try to discipline myself not to do that. And I focus on this as a great sadness.

This is a community that exists to serve the president of the United States. And he has done things over the past more than 45 days, even as president-elect, that seems to put him at odds with the intelligence community again that exists only to serve him.


CUOMO: Now, Philip, you said in the past, so what? These people are professionals. These men and women will do their job. But like I said, you have this dossier come out. You have these rumblings of umbrage. You have this apparent disconnect.

What do you make of this state of play? PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think we're missing one

question here. We talk about this state of play, and what Jim Comey does, what the attorney general does. There's one question we haven't answered in the past 48 hours that I think it's interesting, particularly in light of what Sean Spicer is talking about in terms of the president wanting to protect the United States.

I watched both President Bush and President Obama meet regularly with the attorney general and FBI director at least once a week, because those meetings are typically focused on conversations about terrorism investigations in the United States, so the president knows the most significant investigations and can ask a simple question. What can I do to help?

If the president wants to know what happened at the FBI and DOJ, we're talking about this public posturing. Is he ever meeting with the attorney general and FBI director if he's so interested in our security to discuss ongoing investigations against terrorists? That's a yes or no question for Mr. Spicer. If he isn't, I want to know why he's different from Bush, Obama? If he is, doesn't he ask him what is happening with this?

This is the matador in chief, the president of the United States, who is throwing a red cape in front of the American people, that this ridiculous claim that Trump Tower was wiretapped because he doesn't want Russia talked about.

CUOMO: Well --

MUDD: That's what's going on, Chris. It's not much more complicated than that.

CUOMO: Philip Mudd says it's a ridiculous claim. We just had John Kelly, general, secretary of homeland security, Tom, say, "I'm sure if the president says this, he's got convincing evidence."

[06:40:06] TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: That's exactly, Chris, what you would expect members of his cabinet to say. He must know something we don't know. He must have some evidence or he wouldn't make the statement, because if there's no evidence and it didn't occur, as Phil said, it's outrageous.

CUOMO: But it also doesn't make any sense, because to Philip's point -- and he obviously, he actually has one this time -- you could pick up the phone as president of the United States -- I mean, Tom, you were at the FBI forever, and say, was there a FISA warrant out on me? Was it my organization? What's going on here? Couldn't that phone call take place, Tom?

FUENTES: It could. And, you know, we could argue that all these calls should have been made or Saturday morning when he decided that he believed this to have occurred, could have called a meeting of his top security people and gone into this rather than a public tweet before any other evidence is offered.

So, we just don't know all of that and we're trying to get into his head and figure out why didn't he call this person, why didn't he declassify the information, you know, why he didn't do it differently? I don't know we'll ever have an answer to why he didn't do it differently.

CUOMO: Well, the political speculation is that he's doing this because he wants us to be talking about it. And that's fine. He's getting what he wants.

But our whole lens of analysis on this on NEW DAY has been, this is crushing his credibility because this isn't like his other wacky theories about who was celebrating after 9/11 and 5 million illegal voters because he couldn't prove those. This, he could prove and hasn't. And it is engendering a distrust among his intel people as evidence by what happened with the FBI over the weekend.

And then we had Sean Spicer say this yesterday.


REPORTER: What's the president's view of James Comey right now? Does he have the full faith and confidence to stay on as FBI director?

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I'm not -- I don't think -- we only heard unsubstantiated anonymous sources make those claims. I don't think Director Comey has actually commented on anything that he has allegedly said. So, I'm not going to comment on what people say he might have said. I think the director is more than capable of speaking for himself.

REPORTER: But what about the president's view of the FBI director?

SPICER: Well, I haven't even asked him that yet. I think obviously he is focused today first and foremost on these efforts to keep the country safe.


CUOMO: Sara Murray asking the questions there, very interesting where Sean Spicer's head was. She didn't ask what he thought of what Jim Comey had said. But that's where Spicer head went. That's what they're obviously concerned about.

Do you think Jim Comey can stay on in this environment, where there's obviously distrust and a softball being offered there to validate his existence was not swung at by the White House?

MUDD: I think he can but I think it's getting increasingly questionable. Let's look at this game from two lenses, Chris.

Number one, Jim Comey is asking his boss, that is the new attorney general, to come out and make a statement. Comey doesn't, especially after the Clinton e-mail scandal, that controversy, he doesn't want to come out and comment on an investigation himself. He doesn't want his boss, who was appointed by the president, nominated by the president. Obviously, Comey wasn't, to take the heat on this one. So, I think the politics of this where Comey wants his boss out is

fascinating. Weeks in, the new attorney general, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, has got to figure out, do I say something or not?

More broadly, let me close on this, in the past few weeks, the president repeatedly has forced his senior officials, whether it's conversations with NATO, conversations at the U.N. about Russia and now with the attorney general and FBI, nd conversations about this absurd claim of wiretapping. He has repeatedly gotten side ways with senior officials where they are out in public saying things that are 180 degrees different from what the president says. I've never seen anything like -- anything like this in my life, Chris. It's crazy.

CUOMO: Tom, Phil, thank you very much. And, obviously, we're talking about this in the context of what happens when the president's credibility matters, when he needs the intel community to back him up and give the American people faith in something that will affect all of us and our safety? We'll see.

Gentlemen, appreciate it.


MUDD: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: All right. As you've been talking about, Chris, Mr. Trump's top aides are publicly defending the president's latest accusations even though they say they've not seen any evidence. So, we're going to take a closer look at what they're saying and how they're saying it.


[06:48:22] CAMEROTA: A tough break, literally and figuratively for the Cleveland Cavaliers last night against the Miami Heat.

Hines Ward explains in this morning's "Bleacher Report".

What happened?


The Cavs just signed big man Andrew Bogut, hoping he can give them the size they need to get back to the championship. But only 50 seconds into the game, he collides with a heat player and hobbles to the ground. Check it out.

Oh, that looks painful. He had to be helped to the locker room and was diagnosed with a fractured left tibia. Now, terrible news for the Cleveland Cavs because Bogut could be out for the entire season.

So, after the game, LeBron James said he witnessed the injury up close and personal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LEBRON JAMES, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: I heard it break as soon as the collision happened. I heard it break. I went over to him and he said I already knew, I heard it. I heard it crack.


WARD: Huge blow for the defending champions. We'll see how the Cavs, you know, how they handle the rest of the season there, Chris.

CUOMO: I heard it break. Never a good witness testimony in terms of your ability to come back.

Well, that's why they play the game, my friend. Thank you very much, Hines.

So, President Trump, aides deafening in his wiretap investigation, silence, OK? That was a really bad tease. I kind of messed it up. But the point is very clear.

Why -- you know, someone's got to own something at some point. Why is there no proof of something that so many in the White House are saying is so obvious?

[06:50:01] Next.

CAMEROTA: You fixed it. Nailed it.

CUOMO: I saved it at the end.

CAMEROTA: Nailed it.


[06:53:48] CAMEROTA: The president's wiretapping claims. What are they based on? Well, when pressed for evidence, Mr. Trump's aides do not present any.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I haven't had the chance to have the conversation directly with the president and he's at a much higher classification than I am. So, he may have access to documents that I don't know about. What the president firmly believes that the Obama administration may have tapped into the phones at Trump Tower.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: He has said what he said. You saw his tweets very clearly. And then further clarification of that, that he wants an investigation. He wants this investigated so we can get to the bottom of it.


CAMEROTA: All right. Here to discuss this style is CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES", Brian Stelter, and CNN media analyst Bill Carter. Gentlemen, great to have you here.

Brian, in previous administrations, as far back as the mind can go, when you're the president's spokesperson, and you're speaking to the president, you've done your homework and know what the president is talking about and what he's basing his accusations on.

That's not this White House's style. They go out and say, I don't know. You know, the president believes it for whatever reason.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I'll try not to dodge your questions sometimes we see Conway, Sanders and others dodge questions in these interviews. That's the way we would like it.

[06:55:01] We would like when a spokesperson is speaking for the President Trump or any other president to actually have spoken with the president himself and know where the president's mind is at. In this case, we're not getting that.

This decreases the value of these interviews with White House spokespeople and surrogates. If they don't know what the president is thinking, if they don't know the president's sourcing, it's less interesting to hear from these people.

CAMEROTA: Good point. You can't get information, then what's the point?

STELTER: Right. I do think it creates opportunities for the anchors to show the White House being insular and is not providing those answers. So, the theater aspect is actually useful, but the value of access becomes diminished when the people who are speaking for the president can't really speak for the president.

CUOMO: Well, they can't be expected, Bill, to be able to answer your questions about what they're saying to him when they're too busy scurrying around, trying to find something that would qualify as proof to back up what he said.

But here's what they're caught on this one, and Brian got caught up with this, you know, being battled and targeted by the right.


CUOMO: The president has given a big gift to these fringe elements on the right. Good for them. They've gotten their moment in the sun. Enjoy it.

But he knows the answer to the questions he is asking. He's the president of the United States. If he wants to know if there was a FISA warrant, he doesn't have to listen to a radio show.

CARTER: Correct.

CUOMO: He could pick up the phone.

CAMEROTA: But you don't know that he hasn't done that. CARTER: We don't know that he hasn't done it. We don't know that he

has done it. He seems to actually --

CUOMO: What we do that if he has done it, he has not gotten told what he wanted to be told. Otherwise, he would be -- it doesn't make any sense for him not to reveal it.

STELTER: Yes, the Twitter feed to make those announcements. Yes.

CARTER: He made the Twitter feed to make the charges and use the Twitter feed to explain them. He doesn't do that.

And then he kind of leaves these people out to dry. He doesn't care that they don't know what they're doing or talking about. He pushes them out there and when they don't do it effectively, he blames them. They're sort of in a terrible position.

CUOMO: People apologize and say I feel bad for him. Why? They're not subscripted. They have a choice. This is a high-profile thing they'll have on their pedigrees and each one of us makes a choice every day about how you do your job. I don't feel sorry for anybody.

STELTER: You're being tough today, Chris. I'm a little sympathetic to the Sanders and the Conways.


STELTER: They don't have answers to questions and they're being told to get out there and represent this White House. They like to talk about, I suppose, executive orders that the president is signing. We are more interested, for understandable reasons, in evidence for his claims on Twitter.

CUOMO: If they had to take a pledge, and many don't because they're political appointees. But even, what was supposedly the conscientious decision to take the job? Was it to do only what the president likes and make him happy at all times so I can get a high paying job after this as a friend of the administration or was it to serve people?

CARTER: That really is what a spokesperson generally does. The spokesperson isn't usually working for the United States, he's usually working for the president, and does serve his bidding. But he usually has a path and understanding to what's going on. These people don't have that path.

CUOMO: Public service.

CARTER: And they've hurt their credibility already. Kellyanne Conway --

CUOMO: Public service. Kellyanne could have made a ton of money staying on the outside. She went inside because she said she believed in what's doing right for the American people.


STELTER: They're paid by the taxpayers.

CAMEROTA: She believes in the president's agenda. I mean, so I think that they think that they'll get to the president's agenda somehow through all of this.

One thing we want to point out right now, these photographs have just been released by the National Parks Service.


CAMEROTA: Remember the dispute about the inaugural crowds. President Trump claimed that his were the biggest. In fact, these are the official dozens of photographs from the National Parks Service that was not going to release these, by the way, had it not been for the Freedom of Information Act request by various media outlets. They have complied, released these photographs now and you do see large, open spaces.

You could say, you could chalk this up to who cares?

CARTER: Right.

CAMEROTA: Or chalk this up to we want the president to tell the truth and when he doesn't, it's the press' job to have to do that.

CARTER: Let me just underscore again that many, many things this president says do not -- they are not backed up then by evidence. So now we have a case where he has made another charge and he has not got evidence. Why are we surprised? This is what he's done repeatedly.

CUOMO: I'm surprised because he's the president of the United States and he could get the answer to this question. It's not 9/11 celebrations. It's not birtherism.

CARTER: He clearly doesn't have the answer. It doesn't fit his agenda, his narrative. So, he's not giving the answer.

CUOMO: I think the narrative was to distract, have us talking about President Obama and all these things added to the investigation. We haven't said the name Jeff Sessions once this week on this show in the context of the questions about him or the Russian allegations.

And the only high ground they have there, which is good high ground that they don't use enough is, hey, you keep saying there's all these questions. Nobody has tied anybody in the Trump administration to collusion efforts with Russia. So, when are going to be some there there on that? Fair point.


CARTER: Should be hearings on it. That's obviously what should happen.

CAMEROTA: Got it. Gentlemen, thank you.

Gentlemen, thank you. Brian, Bill, thank you very much. Thanks to our international viewers. For you, CNN "NEWSROOM" is next.

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


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the moment Republicans have promised would come.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we repeal and replace Obamacare, it would amount to the biggest entitlement reform at least the last 20 years.