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EPA Head: Carbon Dioxide Not 'Primary Contributor' To Climate Change; Michael Flynn Worked As A Foreign Agent For Turkey; All 4 Military Branches Looking Into Photo-Sharing Scandal; Officer Shot 15 Times During Sikh Temple Rampage; Ethics Office Rebukes WH Over Conway's Ivanka Trump Plug; Melania Trump's Approval Ratings Rising. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired March 10, 2017 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN NEW DAY ANCHOR: The new EPA head Scott Pruitt made a controversial comment when it comes to climate change. Take a listen for yourself.


JOE KERNEN, CNBC SQUAWK BOX ANCHOR: Do you believe that it's been proven that CO2 is the primary control knob for climate? Do you believe that?

SCOTT PRUITT, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY ADMINISTRATOR: No, I -- no, I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact. So, no, I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the -- to the global warming that we see. OK. Or, we don't know that yet, as far as -- we need -- we need to

continue the debate, continue the review and the analysis.


CUOMO: That is not what the majority of the scientific community would state as a proposition. Let's bring in CNN Senior Political Analyst and Senior Editor for The Atlantic, Ron Brownstein. You have left, you have right, and then you have science. What is the impact of this statement?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST AND THE ATLANTIC SENIOR EDITOR: And in fact, when you said not the majority, I mean, that, Chris, even understates it.

CUOMO: I was being generous.

BROWNSTEIN: The overwhelming -- the overwhelming preponderance of international, you know, scientific bodies have repeatedly reaffirmed that linkage. Well, it is the beginning of the -- what is going to be a very broad effort to rollback what has been done. Both, you know, people focus on the clean power plan which was the Obama administration's efforts to deal with carbon pollution from stationary sources -- power plants, essentially. But there's also going to be an effort, by all indications, to roll back the second round of gains that the administration had achieved in agreement with the auto industry on improving fuel economy and mileage efficiency from cars.

This is a -- this is going to be one of the biggest domestic fights and also international fights, because whether or not the administration formally withdraws from the Paris agreement, which was, again, an extraordinary coming together of the world around this challenge, including many of the nations that had held out before. Whether it -- whether or not it formally withdraws from that, it is undermining -- attempting to undermine the mechanisms by which the U.S. would meet its commitments. This is something's ultimately going to go to the courts on both fronts, and again, what we've learned is that that may be the most critical, what, force that can slow down some of the things that the Trump administration is trying to do.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY ANCHOR: Well, it's interesting, Ron. When you said that there's a consensus among scientists, yes, but there's not a consensus among Americans. So when you talk about politics, he's actually representing -- there's something like in the latest few research, this is from a few months ago, 48 percent of Americans believe that global warming is connected to human activity and caused by human activity, 51 percent believe it is not. So, in terms of him being at the EPA, there are all sorts of -- half of the country think that, you know, he is just fine with that philosophy.

BROWNSTEIN: That number is higher than I've seen elsewhere but the basic idea is correct in this sense, Alisyn, which is that, climate and the environment is functionally a social or cultural issue. It defines -- it divides Americans along those same lines. Many of the vote -- if you look at the coalition that elected Donald Trump, in terms of blue collar, non-urban white voters as the core of the support, there's enormous skepticism there. If you look at the voters that are most resistant to him, particularly, a younger college educated suburban voters, there is enormous consensus that this is a real problem that has to be challenge.

By the way, if you look at the last two elections, there's enormous correlation. I mean, the states that tend to produce the most carbon also tend to be republican. Donald Trump dominated the states that have the most carbon (INAUDIBLE) because their resource extraction states or they have a lot of manufacturing jobs. And the states, that are kind of the post-industrial states where -- that have moved away from coal generated power tend to be democratic states. Both President Obama and Hillary Clinton dominated those states, so like so many other things in American life, this debate reinforces our divide and we have really sorted politically along these economic and environmental lines.

CUOMO: Trump has compromised on this issue now, also, because he was some (INAUDIBLE) as a private citizen, he put in for relief because of global warming effects -


CAMEROTA: But also called with the hoax when he's -

CUOMO: And he's gone with the hoax. You know, so he's played with it both ways, but the idea of while the American people believe this -- take a look at the numbers online of how many people in America don't believe in evolution. I don't know that that's always the best basis for what you're going to use the policy on.

CAMEROTA: Well, (INAUDIBLE) the basis for politics. We were talking - yes, there's politics, there's science and there's politics. And in terms of the politics, you know, you don't know if there'll be a huge backlash against -


CUOMO: No, but you want to be able - so, you worry about what the impact of this - of this misinformation on policy. But let me switch topics with you, Ron.


[07:34:54] CUOMO: Michael Flynn speaking about, you know, fact versus politics. Now, the latest is that from Sean Spicer, that the White House wasn't aware of him being registered as a foreign lobbyist. Is that difficult for you to believe, Ron, given the fact that one, we didn't -- they didn't show any of his paperwork that he filled out with them, so we don't know if he left it off, but that he was -- there was active - there was activity with his lobbying firm, his consulting. He was getting paid for it, running up to and even after a little bit. He's got the job. Do you believe that they could have not known?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, this entire process - the entire confirmation-nomination process has been more slapdash than we have seen. I mean, just think about the level of the amendment of the testimonies that we have seen from several - I mean, obviously Attorney General Sessions is the most prominent, but with Steve Mnuchin and his financial assets, and what was - you know, what was put back in after, you know - after the fact. I think it is plausible that they did not know in this case.

Now, you know, it's incredibly egregious here when - especially when you have writing an op-ed piece, I believe, after - right before or right after the election, directly affecting this, but not disclosing this relationship but there has been kind of a - you know, kind of a hurried slapdash process around many of these. And we are way behind in kind of the nominating process. So, yes, I do think it's plausible he didn't know.

CAMEROTA: But we just have a few seconds left. But if he was acting as what they call a foreign agent, I mean, what does that mean, Ron?

BROWNSTEIN: That means he was, you know - he was - he was lobbying and technically, it means his lobbying work can be construed as benefitting a foreign government, and it shows a kind of a - you know, again, a kind of disregard here for what had been traditional boundaries. And again, on disclosure, I mean, we've had -- this is not the only episode we have seen where a senior administration official has, shall we say, omitted relevant facts to assessment of their fitness for the job.

CAMEROTA: Ron Brownstein, thank you. Great to talk to you.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: All right. So, it all started with the marines, but now, the investigation into online groups of active troops and veterans posting nude photos of their female colleagues, well, it has spread to all branches of the military. So next, a former secretary of the navy on how this hurts the military.


[07:40:00] CUOMO: All right. New information for you this morning. It's now all four branches of the military that are looking into this issue. Posting nude photos of people that appear to be female service members on various websites. This comes as leaders deal with this bombshell report of a secret online Facebook group of more than 30,000 active duty marines and veterans and yes, fair criticism is how much of a secret was it if it had 30,000 members, but they were sharing thousands of potentially explicit photos of current and former Marine Corps women without these women's knowledge or consent.

Joining us now is the former Secretary of the U.S. Navy, Ray Mabus. Ray, thank you very much for joining us.


CUOMO: Have you ever heard of this?

MABUS: No, not until it broke.

CUOMO: The idea of 30,000 members being involved in this and supposedly it was just marines, that's hard to believe because, you know, I don't think you have enough marines to have 30,000 involved in an activity and nobody know about it, but how do you explain that? The unknown nature of such a big group doing something that is so obvious?

MABUS: Well, there is no good excuse. The marine motto is Semper Fidelis, "always faithful". And what these marines did was to be unfaithful to their fellow marines. I mean, marines look after each other; marines have each other's back. Look at what the commandant of the Marine Corps said about this. This makes us a less effective fighting force. And to do what these marines did; to participate in this in any way, goes to the very heart of what it means to be a marine; goes to the very heart of that sacred oath, Semper Fidelis, "always faithful". They weren't faithful to their fellow marines.

CUOMO: Now, you were an activist on this issue of women empowerment within the military. You wanted to see them grow even within combat rolls and you were on record as that. And you know, also deserves note that you have the longest tenure in the position also despite taking these strong positions. But do you think this investigation will be able to capture who knew about this, because we know what they were doing; we know it's wrong; we know you can catch people who are members of the group and punish them. And we can discuss how they should be punished, but again, that issue of who knew is just as important as all those other questions, because it shows a tolerance of something that you see is average.

MABUS: Well, you've got to get to the bottom of it, you've got to - you've got to have some serious sanctions, some serious punishment for people who did this. And you need to know the scope of it; you need to know where it goes; and who was involved. But the reason I was so strong about this, the reason I thought we needed this so much is that a more diverse force is a stronger force. Every time we've opened up the marines, every time we've opened up the Navy; every time we've opened up the Armed Services, we've gotten stronger. And it's not for diversity for diversity sake. It's diversity of thought and experience and background.

A military force that begins to think too much alike, begins to look too much alike, begins to come from the same place and be the same people, becomes predictable. And a predictable force is a defeatable force. And I just think you need to look at what the commandant keep saying, that this sort of thing undermines our fighting ability. That's what's at stake here; that's what's the bottom line here. It makes marines less able to fight.

And I revere the marines. We all ought to be thankful we've got marines out there, because they do things that not many people in this country are willing to do to protect this country, but these marines, these veterans that have participated in this, have undermined, have attacked fellow marines. And that is inexcusable in a fighting force and particularly in the marines who are so special.

[07:45:02] CUOMO: And to be fair to the marines, yes, they were the first one fingered on this, but now we're hearing that all four branches of the military at least are looking into this, and we don't know if that's with cause, although, there is reporting out there that suggests that they do have cause to be looking, that this isn't just about the marines or just about the Department of the Navy. But that makes this first question even more pressing. Who knew, how could nobody in the chain of command be aware of something that's spread through every branch of the service with numbers of membership in at least the tens of thousands?

MABUS: Well, you talk about it spreading, but marines hold themselves out as being special, and they are. We expect more out of marines. They expect more out of themselves. They should expect more in this case. And I think one of the parts of the investigation is, how did it spread? Where did it go? Who knew? And did any of the chain of command know? But you look at how strong the statements are coming from General Neller, who is the top uniform marine. You look at the ones coming from the acting Secretary of the Navy, Sean Stackley. You cannot put up with this and have an effective military force. You just can't do it. Marines have to know. Every marine has to know that every other marine has their back. That is the basis of the Marine Corps.

CUOMO: Understood. Ray Mabus, thank you very much for your perspective on this. One of the reasons I'm pressing about who knew is, you know, just inform by this hope and defiance by some of these members also. They're acting as if, "Yes, come and find us," as if they have confidence in their ability to stay undetectable. But we don't know everything yet. And when we do know more, we'll come back to you. Thank you, sir, for your perspective and your service.

MABUS: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Well, the Office of Government Ethics thinks that Trump Adviser Kellyanne Conway should be held accountable. For what? We'll tell you next.


[07:50:00] CUOMO: The first officer to respond to the 2012 Sikh Temple massacre is sharing his story of sacrifice. A gunman, you'll remember, killed six people in that shooting. But somehow, Lieutenant Brian Murphy survived being shot 15 times at close range. He spoke with our Sara Sidner in this edition of "BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY".


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: By all accounts, Brian Murphy should be dead.

BRIAN MURPHY, POLICE OFFICER: First shot was in the face, second shot was the thumb, shot in the back of the head, right hand, one in the right arm, three in the left hand, three in the left bicep, one in each leg, one in the chest, one in the side and one in the back.

SIDNER: His dash cam rolling, Murphy was the first officer on the scene as calls poured in from the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shooting, my God, shooting.

SATPAL KALEKA, SHOOTING VICTIM'S WIFE: We heard fighting outside. I brought both kids in my hand. I said, let's go in the pantry.

SIDNER: Satpal Kaleka was among 15 women and children huddled in this pantry, fearing death. Kaleka's husband, the president of the temple, rushed out to warn people. He was and killed, along with five others. The shooter, Wade Page, a white supremacist and army veteran on a mission of hate, was still at it when Lieutenant Murphy rolled up. That's Murphy there and that is Page, gun raised.

MURPHY: And we both shoot at exactly the same time.

SIDNER: What happens?

MURPHY: I missed.

SIDNER: Murphy was hit in the face. That's him, ducking for cover. It gets worse.

MURPHY: About halfway through, I just get mad, and I'm thinking, "When are you going to be done shooting me?"

SIDNER: How are you not dead?

MURPHY: God kept me around.

SIDNER: Another officer drives up.


SIDNER: Page shoots, hitting the windshield, a gun battle ensues, and Page kills himself. By then, Murphy's vest and body are riddled with 15 bullets.

A year later, a survivor approached him.

MURPHY: "How many times did you get shot?" And I said, "15," and she said, "That's right. There was one bullet for every one of us who is inside."

SIDNER: The Sikh community says, without Murphy's sacrifice, the massacre would have been so much worse.

PARDEEP KALEKA, SHOOTING VICTIM'S SON: I know that Brian Murphy is a hero. He's a hero to our community but a much larger community, as in the Sikh immigrant community in America.

SIDNER: A community Murphy still worries about, knowing they are sometimes targets, simply because of their appearance. Sara Sidner, CNN, Milwaukee.


CAMEROTA: My gosh. What an incredible story and hero there.

All right. Moving on to this update, the White House being criticized by the Office of Government Ethics for not punishing Counselor Kellyanne Conway for the time that she plugged Ivanka Trump's products during a live television interview.

Meanwhile, the poll numbers show the popularity of the president's wife, the First Lady Melania Trump, rising sharply. Joining us to talk about all of this is Kate Bennett, CNN White House Reporter. Good morning, Kate.


CAMEROTA: So, let's start with Kellyanne Conway. The Office of Government Ethics does not think the White House has gone far enough in chastising her or punishing her for when she, you know, just talked about Ivanka Trump's fashion brand on live T.V., which, of course, was an endorsement. Kellyanne Conway says she was joking, and she said that she then had, you know, a serious conversation, one-on-one with the president, and they sort of made it right. But the Office of Government Ethics doesn't think that went far enough. What is Kellyanne Conway's status nowadays in the White House? We haven't heard as much from her. [07:54:58] BENNETT: Well, I think she's definitely -- she has a lower

profile the past couple of weeks than she had initially right out of the gate -- right after inauguration. I mean, those comments, certainly, the White House viewed them as off-hand. Although, she didn't say, "Go out and buy her clothes. I'm going to." It was a pretty stark endorsement there. But, you know, she has not been as visible -- of course, last week, there was the mini scandal, the memes are popped up with her, kneeling on the couch in the Oval Office to get that photograph, but in general, she's played a lower profile of late, and that might be due to this. It might be just, you know, letting this gloss over and fade and let the story die down.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, I don't know if it was Kellyanne Conway's endorsement or if it's just Ivanka's sort of shining star, but the sales for her brand are skyrocketing? Let me read you some numbers. She said, "The best performing weeks in the history of her brand," according to the president of Ivanka Trump's fashion brand. According to the e-commerce aggregator, from just January to February, Ivanka's sales increased 346 percent. So what's that about?

BENNETT: So, you know, while Kellyanne is sort of out there being very vocal about buying her brand, Ivanka might have learned something in the family business and is just quietly branding herself. She has been wearing her own line for most of her appearances over the past couple weeks. I mean, from shoes to apparel, to -- just she'll pick up a bag, that's an Ivanka Trump bag. But if you really break down her outfits, she's wearing her own line, and in her own way, a very sort of marketable advertisement for her -- for her products and that's been reflected.

I also think that Trump supporters, sort of, having tendency to rally around, you know, if you hit at Trump, he hits back twice as hard. And I think that when she was attacked over her, you know, Nordstrom dropping her and the boycotts of retail, there was sort of a rallying cry to support her, and that might be reflected in these numbers. But certainly, it's not just her shoes that are -- that her -- that are up, it's also her dresses, her apparel. Her perfume was number one on Amazon last month. So, in many ways, the Ivanka Trump brand -- and brand is business, and Trump family is way up and doing well.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. It's going gangbusters. Also, something way up, First Lady, Melania Trump's poll numbers. Look at this, it's just since inauguration, OK. On Inauguration Day, she was at 36 percent favorability, and now 52 percent favorability. What's behind that spike?

BENNETT: I mean, I think a lot of it has to do with this Melania mystique. We don't see a lot of her, right? We haven't really met her or heard her. So, when she did come on the scene, there was a large number of people polled before inauguration who just didn't have an opinion, or worst, didn't even know who she was. So now that she sort of come out and she made a very, you know, that baby blue Jackie Kennedy-esque outfit that inauguration we can - we all remember, she's made remarks of introducing the president at his rally in Florida, she hosted the governor's ball, she visited two children's hospitals last week. And here she is, International Women's Day. She gave a speech at the White House.

So we're really seeing a lot more from what the public is saying, what these poll numbers reflect is that people are liking what they see. And we also have to remember we're coming off of eight years of Michelle Obama who was a prolific speaker and very adept at getting her messaging across with let girls learn, reach higher, let's move. Melania Trump has yet to really outline what her platform is going to be. She has yet to really give a series of definitive speeches. She's still sort of in that part time in Washington mode. But I think these poll numbers really reflect what might be a burgeoning popularity with her.

A year ago, she was only at 23 percent popularity or 24 percent, which is a pretty low number of favorability. So, to see her numbers grow this quickly is an indicator that people really want to know more about her.

CAMEROTA: Definitely, it does seem as though she's easing into her role as First Lady. Kate Bennett, great to see you. Thanks so much.

BENNETT: Good to see you.

CAMEROTA: For all of that, you can join us tonight for the CNN Special Report "MELANIA TRUMP: THE MAKING OF A FIRST LADY". It's tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Only on CNN.

All right. We're following a lot of news this morning. So, let's get right to it.


JIM HIMES, UNITED STATES GOVERNOR FROM CONNECTICUT: We haven't had entirely forthcoming answers from the Director of the FBI.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jim Comey, meeting with eight powerful lawmakers.

ADAM SCHIFF, UNITED STATES GOVERNOR FROM CALIFORNIA: Those walls are going to have to come down if we're going to do our job.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're very confident that the bipartisan congressional committees will arrive at the right conclusion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: FBI investigators continue to examine whether there was a computer connection between the Trump organization and a Russian bank.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: During the presidential campaign, the Russian bank looked up the address to this Trump corporate server, some 2800 times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The current health care system is a monstrosity.

TOM COTTON, UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM ARKANSAS: We need to get health care reform right. We don't have to get it fast.

PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: This is the closest we will ever get to repealing and replacing Obamacare.

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

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Friday, March 10th, 8:00 in the east.

Up first, FBI Director James Comey's meeting --