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Northeast, Mid-Atlantic Dig Out After Monster Storm; WH: Trump "Extremely Confident" Wiretap Evidence Exists; Trump Acts to "Deconstruct" Administrative State. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired March 15, 2017 - 06:30   ET



[06:33:20] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: So, millions of people in the Northeast this morning and the mid-Atlantic digging out after a monster winter storm blamed for six deaths. More than a thousand cancelled flights at the airports today, a blizzard warning still in effect for parts of hard hit New England.

Our meteorologist Chad Myers is warm and cozy inside today.

You were great out there, my friend, yesterday.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Thank you. I will take warm and cozy, though.

HARLOW: You will take warm and cozy. What are we looking at for the big dig?

MYERS: You know, if you look here in New York City, I think nothing happened, it was a big miss.

But if you look upstate, southern tier, Mohawk Valley, into Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, it was not a miss. Bridgewater, New York, had 41 inches of snow in 24 hours. And if you talk about that in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, 32.

Down to Mount Pocono, down to the Hazelton Mountain Area, they had an EF2 tornado two weeks ago. They did go from winter to spring to winter, and 32 inches digging out now. Massachusetts, all of Vermont picking up somewhere in the 20 to 30-inch range and the winds, Plum Island, 77 miles per hour. Even Barnstable at 74 miles per hour.

Now, the big cities didn't get hit as hard. What they had was an ice mix and that ice is still there this morning if you walk outside, be careful, because there is black ice everywhere, even here in the city, they tried to do a great job, but there is a lot out there.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: A lot of snowment out there in cars.

Hey, Chad, appreciate it as well.

MYERS: Good to see you. CUOMO: All right. So what we will learn about the president's company and alleged ties to Russia today? Why today? The FBI Director Jim Comey has promised to take his case to the public, at least to Congress, at least to say whether or not there is an investigation.

[06:35:05] What are the implications? Next.



SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: As I commented in the past, I think there are significant reporting about under surveillance techniques that have existed throughout the 2016 election. I'll leave it to them to issue their report. But I think he feels very confident that we'll ultimately come of this we'll vindicate him.


COUOMO: One question that doesn't go away is, why is the White House relying on reporting within they can get the answer to what under surveillance was done with a phone call and they could declassify it all themselves?

This wiretapping allegation continues to haunt.

Let's bring back our panel, A.B. Stoddard, Matt Lewis, David Gregory.

A.B. Stoddard, there -- in this answer from Sean Spicer, extreme confidence, extreme confidence, anyway you want to qualify it. Where is that confidence coming from?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR & COLUMNIST, REALCLEARPOLITICS: I think they plan because there was, Chris, as you know, there was some wiretapping. We know there was a transcript of conversations between then National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, well, in his role in the transition as incoming NSA director.

[06:40:09] And then, obviously, he was talking to the Russian ambassador, that made its way into the press and ultimately led to his firing because he lied to the vice president about it.

So, I think that what they planned to do is sort of muddy the waters, there is no evidence that President Obama got a warrant from a FISA court to have then a candidate Trump wiretapped or then he did it illegally. If they can't come up with that and there is no indication that there is any of that, James Comey, the FBI director, has already met with members of Congress, saying there is no evidence, I think what the White House staff intends to do is muddy the waters like Hillary Clinton used to say, you know, I'm really sorry I used a private e-mail, even though everyone else does, she would confuse the issue by not mentioning she had her own private server.

And so, I think if they skip talking about reports of wiretapping, they will hope this goes away. HARLOW: So, here's the difference, she was a candidate for president.

He is president. He has to answer, you know, I mean, a lot of questions from his own Republican colleagues in the House and the Senate.

I mean, you've got Lindsey Graham, David Gregory, coming out say figure there is no warrant to solve the problem, there was no wiretapping. He is saying he will go as far as hiring a select committee to look into this. Devin Nunes on the House side, saying he will subpoena indeed subpoena any evidence that's needed.

I mean, "The Washington Post" headline, right, is this the Republicans showing the emperor has no clothes. How concerned can the White House be concerned about them?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, the Republicans are saying, "put up or shut up" here. And where is your claim? You have the FBI director saying there was no FISA warrant. The president, as Chris says, is in a position to know or find out immediately instead of going on with all this garbage.

I mean, you know, you are putting press secretary out there to engage in gymnastics around what he meant with air quotes, I mean, it's ridiculous. Why is it that Vice President Pence who had such strong steel reserve when it came to not being lied to by Michael Flynn and told the president, clearly, you either get rid of this guy or you undercut me, he's willing to go along with a baseless claim from the president of the United States and all these other people from the president?

So, if there was wiretapping which A.B. says, we know was true in terms of an investigation around contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia, if it was incidental conversations that were picked up that were not necessarily pursuant to the idea of President Obama ordering a wiretap, then they should come clean about all this. The president is going to have bigger issues, like, say, this growing crisis with North Korea.

How is he going to be believed around the world as he tries to summon some kind of coalition to deal with this if he can't be believed about things he puts out on Twitter, these kind of claims he makes.

CUOMO: Look, you know what, it's not a farfetched suggestion. Not for Sean Spicer or the other people they put out on TV. Every time you ignore something, you empower it. Every time you give an answer that's wishy-washy at best, you hurt your own credibility.

And then comes the other factor, Matt, which is why would they did they do this? Why was the president put out an allegation he can claim himself? Because it distracted from the Maine conversation for some.

But now, Jim Comey comes in front of the judiciary, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and he is going to will say, he says, whether or not he is looking at what really matters. Russian interference, potential connection during our election to the Trump campaign, Trump staff, is that the main story?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Look, I think the wiretap story is really a side issue. I don't know whether it was Donald Trump having no impulse control, getting up one morning and deciding, reading a Breitbart story and deciding to tweet or whether it was a strategic decision to distract.

That's a subplot. The real story is the election. We know that Russia interfered in this election. We don't believe -- I don't believe, that they, that they definitively threw it to Trump.

But we know that they were involved. Is there any evidence that somebody on the campaign or in Trump's orbit coordinated with them? I think the in-Trump's orbit thing is very interesting. It's an entirely plausible.

We don't know, but it's possible that there is somebody in his orbit who was talking to them not directly on the staff, on the campaign.

HARLOW: We should get some answers today.

CUOMO: At least, we'll know if they're asking the questions today.

HARLOW: Well, no, if they're looking into this.

CUOMO: We'll know if they're investigating.

HARLOW: Right, and that's what Senator Whitehouse said.

CUOMO: Right. But I mean, that will sound satisfying, because we haven't we heard anything. But it's not like he's going to say and we found that, he didn't promise that?

HARLOW: But the American public will take any answers they can get in the meantime. Guys, thank you very much.

CUOMO: So, speaking of people who want answers, coming up on NEW DAY, Senator Lindsey Graham will be in our 8:00 hour. He is the man in the focus of these questions. He is coming strongest at the White House about putting up proof.

[06:45:03] He wants to know about Russia. He says this is existential for our democracy. Why? He'll make the case.

HARLOW: All right. Coming up for us now, the first Trump budget. It will, no doubt, reflect his "America first" policy, what impact will his deep expected cuts to state and other department have on America's position in the world?

The former Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken joins us next.


HARLOW: So, March Madness officially ticked off last night with two games. And one of them got quite heated.

Cory Wire has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Good morning.


You had Kansas State beaten Wake Forest. They looked solid in the first game last night. But the fireworks came out between the 16th seed Mount St. Mary's and New Orleans. You had some frustrations setting in for New Orleans.

Check out Travis Thibodaux who puts his hands around the neck of his own teammate. That's Christavious Gill. He puts his round his neck, the coaches stepped in, Thibodaux gets benched for the rest of the game, you don't see that very often.

The story of this game, though, 5-foot-5 Junior Robinson, the smallest player in D1 basketball coming up huge for Mount St. Mary's, they get the one-point win over New Orleans, and they now move on to play number one seed Villanova in a round of 64.

Get two more games tonight on Turner's truTV. North Carolina Central playing UC Davis at 6:40 Eastern. Followed by an 11th seed matchup between USC and Providence.

[06:50:05] I want to share with you possibly the best thing on the Internet last night, Carmelo Anthony's fashion choices. It was cold in New York where his Knicks meet the Pacers, but this outfit was on fire. 124 says, "Who wore it better, George Costanza or 'melo?" Slam magazine wondered if Carmelo who wore it better or Leo from "The Revenant". He looks like the bear from "The Revenant" as well. Melo as Hans Solo or Luke Skywalker in "Empire Strikes Back."

People are having a blast with this. It was cold. I don't know if it was the way to cover it up.

CUOMO: I thought he was channeling Walt Clyde Frazier there also, another New York Knick known for going aggressive on the fashion side.

One disappointment from that game that little man, Cory Wire was modern in the game. He can flush it. He can dunk. He had a chance on a break away. He bobbled the pass.

HARLOW: But now, we know where your hat went.

CUOMO: Yes, that's true. I love those big Russian hats.

HARLOW: Yes, you do.

CUOMO: The Trump administration vowing to dismantle the government as we know it. Will it mean a big shift in America's role on the world stage? What will the cuts mean abroad?

Tony Blinken knows that job, next.


[06:55:21] HARLOW: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

So, candidate Donald Trump, of course, ran on this anti-establishment platform. Now as president, he is taking steps according to his team to, quote, "deconstruct the administrative state". What does it mean?

Tony Blinken is here, our global affairs analyst, former deputy secretary of state under President Obama.

Nice to have you here.

And those words deconstruction of the administrative state, Tony, those are words from Steve Bannon, right, his right hand guy?


HARLOW: What does that mean and look like to the world, to our allies, to our adversaries? Because it's all going to play out when he unveils the budget this week in terms of where he's giving money and where he's cutting money.

BLINKEN: Well, you know, we're already seeing the practical manifestations of that, Poppy, with, for example, the state budget. President Trump's budget cut the State Department by 37 percent.

And I think it's incredibly short sided, because diplomats and soldiers are flipsides of the same national security coin. They re- enforce each other. And if you undermine one, you undermine the other.

Most of the problems we're facing around the world don't have deep military solution. You can't bomb away Ebola or climate change or refugees or cyber hackers or terror networks. You actually need diplomats and development assistance to try to get to root out those problems and to build coalitions.

So, if you are starting to take away the administrative state, for example, by gutting the State Department, you're going to have a very tough time doing that.

HARLOW: So, one Republican who came out loudly against that in the past few weeks is Marco Rubio, for example. And then you create this hole, you create this instability around the world when you make cuts like that, and who does that help, Tony? Wouldn't that arguably help Russia? Wouldn't that arguably help a Vladimir Putin?

BLINKEN: Well, you are exactly right because, you know, the world is not self organizing, and if we're not doing the organizing, including with our diplomats, including with our development assistance, someone else is going to be doing it. And that might be Russia. It might be China, or you have vacuums that are filled with externalist forces including terrorists.

So, if we're out of the picture the picture starts to look worse.

HARLOW: But here's how OMB Director Mick Mulvaney defended it to Chris on this show just yesterday. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICK MULVANEY, OMB DIRECTOR: What did the president say on the campaign trail? I'm going to spend more money on defense. I'm going to spend more money enforcing the border. I'm going to spend more money just enforcing the laws on the books. I'm going to spend more money on an educational choice. And I'm going to spend less money giving money to folks overseas. And that's what the budget is.


HARLOW: It can be summed up in two words, America first. When you think those that got this president to office, they may be listening to what you are saying, yep, that doesn't help my kid in school, for example. This is a clear playing out of his "America first" doctrine, is it not?

BLINKEN: Well, it seems to be, but I think that actually puts America last.

Our engagement around the world, through our diplomacy, through development assistance, it actually gives us leverage, it gives us influence, it brings other countries along to pick up their share of the burden and to do things that we otherwise have to do alone. That helps our folks out.

At the same time, just take immigration, for example. When we're helping Mexico, when we're working with Mexico on crime, on counternarcotics, creating better environment in Mexico, for example, that means the folks in Mexico may be more tempted to stay home and not go somewhere else?

HARLOW: The numbers show the immigration goes down as the economy has gotten better.

I want to get your take on two more things -- Rex Tillerson, secretary of state, on this big trip to Asia. He's in the air right now, in a few hours, he lands in Japan. He's going to be meeting with the foreign minister, the prime minister as well.

How do you assess Rex Tillerson's job, the job of the top diplomat in this country has done thus far? Because we heard hardly anything from him.

BLINKEN: Well, this is a big moment for the secretary because this trip to Asia, his first, comes as a pivotal time. North Korea, which for years has been pursuing a nuclear program, a nuclear weapons, has accelerated that effort over the last year, trying to get an intercontinental ballistic missile that can carry a nuclear payload and strike the United States.

So, his mission on this trip is to try and get everyone in line, South Korea, Japan, China to deal with this rising nuclear challenge from North Korea. It's a big, big effort.

HARLOW: So, one thing that he has threatened is to pull the United States out of the U.N. Human Rights Council. He says that council needs considerable reform. If it doesn't undertake that, the U.S. won't be a part of it. And therefore, won't fund it, won't pour that money into the U.N.

But here's his reasoning, and this is very important. He says, why should we the United States, a country that stands up for human rights and what is right be on this council with human rights abusers, like Saudi Arabia, like Egypt, like China? Does he have a point?

BLINKEN: He has a point in that council for some years had a bias for example against Israel and has gone a off in directions that from our perspective are pretty questionable. But here's the question for us: are we going to be in the room where it happens, trying to shape what happens or are we going to be in the outside with no influence?