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Trump Delegitimizing Institutions; Aerobics for Your Brain; Trump's Leaked Tax Return; New Travel Ban Takes Effect Tomorrow. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired March 15, 2017 - 08:30   ET



[08:33:45] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so the Trump administration goes after anything that attacks the Trump administration, right? Now, the Congressional Budget Office, they're being attacked by the Trump administration for their report scoring the GOP's current health plan. This is not the first time. Again, several institutions have been taken on since the early days of the presidency, really even before, federal judges, the media to be sure, intelligence agencies. Why do this? Is it working? Is it good?

CNN political commentator Jason Miller, former senior communications advisor for the Trump campaign, is with us. Good to have you on the show in this capacity.


CUOMO: And Karen Finney, a former senior adviser and senior spokesperson for Hillary for America.

I always enjoyed having both of you on during the campaign. You like to get after it. Let's do it now.

We're going to get to these institutions. But for one quick headline, it is circulating around -- we are not saying it, I cannot prove it -- but it says "client copy" on these self-serving couple of pages of 2005 taxes that came out, paint a good picture of Trump in these tax returns. It fuels speculation, did he have something to do with the leak? I don't know any proof of that. There are others on morning TV going much farther and saying it's painfully obvious that he leaked it. You know everybody around him. Do you think there's a chance that happened?

[08:35:02] MILLER: No, not at all. I think this is a complete joke to go and make a crazy allegation like this. And, further, I think it really goes, for journalist whose are making such claims, you know, it really is a knock on people who are out there doing good work in journalism and fighting for a free press. And I think this really makes people at home look and say, how much can I really believe of what I'm seeing on TV or reading in the newspapers.

CUOMO: Well, in fairness, it wasn't coming from a journalist, it was coming from a politician pundit. MILLER: But -- but --

CUOMO: But fair point. You've got to know what you show.

MILLER: Right.

CUOMO: You've got to make your case. That's why this show tries to distinguish itself that way.

So let's go to the overall strategy. You don't like what I say, Miller, you tell me that I'm fake news. You come after the media as the opposition, the enemy. You don't like a judge, you go after judges as not having the constitutional authority to do what they do have -- you don't like the CBO, you say it stinks. Does that work and why do it as a strategy?

MILLER: Well, I think speaking purely in communication terms, there's a bit of working the refs when you're pushing back on stories that you think are inaccurate or that aren't fair. But I think also, too, when we're talking specifically about this administration, if you look back a little bit, this is a very tough campaign, tough transition period, now into the actual leading and governing, and there's been a lot of unfair coverage I think leveled towards this president, this administration and they're going to go and push back and set the record straight. They can't always rely on the media to do it for them.

CUOMO: Right.

MILLER: And so I think they're looking at doing some of that on their own.

CUOMO: Finney --


CUOMO: Negative coverage is not necessarily unfair coverage.


CUOMO: And how you go back at coverage matters also. What is your criticism of the, I'm not just saying your story is wrong, I'm saying that you're fake and bad and any institution that disagrees with me is corrupt strategy.

FINNEY: Right. Well, look, I think just going to the premise when you introduced this segment, I mean what we've seen from the Trump administration is, if a fact is something we don't like, then it's fake, then it's falls. If an institution like the CBO puts out a report with numbers we don't like, then we attack it. But in and of itself, for the CBO to say 24 million people will lose their health care coverage in the next decade, that is not an attack. That is actually a finding. And I think that's really the distinction.

But I think what we're seeing from the Trump administration here, and I will say I think Sean Spicer does a valiant job, Jason just did, with the, you know, verbal gymnastics, trying to, you know, put the best face on it. But there are facts that matter. And I think one of the things we're seeing -- a couple of things. Number one, I think Mr. Trump likes to put things out there to deflect from the actual topic. So like the need for a true independent investigation into potential ties to Russia. Like, you know, for example, on the tax returns, creating a little bit of drama around the potential of who actually leaked it, that's not what's important. What's important is that what we've learned from those tax returns is we don't see the schedules, which are the attachments, so we don't know where the money comes from.

CUOMO: Right, we didn't really get the return.

FINNEY: Right, but I'm just saying -- like so -- but he's now, you know, he's now created this scenario where people are kind of running to the shiny object as to who might have leaked it, rather than staying focused on --

CUOMO: Well, I don't know that the president had anything to do with it. We do know that the two pages that came out were marked anonymous. It was odd for the president to tweet about it, saying, who is this reporter? The guy won the Pulitzer Prize for reporting on taxes from "The New York Times."

FINNEY: Yes. Yes, he did.

CUOMO: David Cay Johnston. He's not exactly a nobody.

But to the main point is this, does it work, do you believe, and is that enough of a justification? Is there a line that you shouldn't cross in delegitimizing critics?

MILLER: Well, I --

FINNEY: Absolutely.

MILLER: But I think -- look, there's always going to be some level of where you can push back and where you can't. And I think that's a judgment called based on each situation. But let's go and talk back -- there's some of these -- I mean about the CBO scoring for a moment. I mean they were off by 13 million when they were scoring Obamacare several years ago. And so --

CUOMO: On one aspect of it and for specific problems that they highlighted --

MILLER: But -- but -- but, Chris --

CUOMO: And the guy who runs it now is a man that Secretary Price said all these great things about.

MILLER: But -- but, Chris --

CUOMO: Now they're attacking him.

MILLER: But -- but you're not disagreeing with you that they were off by 13 million.

FINNEY: And the White House numbers were actually higher.

CUOMO: They -- they were off but there were reasons for it that they laid out. It wasn't that they stink at their job.

MILLER: But you see my point, that the administration sees those numbers and they disagree. They think that what they're doing with their bill will actually go and increase competition and -- and lower (INAUDIBLE) --

CUOMO: But instead of saying that, they say, the CBO is consistently wrong, is what Spicer said. He offered no proof of a consistent pattern of error by the CBO. They got things right about Obamacare as well. And, in a story that he called false and misleading, without proof again, from Politico, they did their own internal analysis to look at what the CBO would do --

FINNEY: Right.

MILLER: But that was --

CUOMO: And it came out the same, actually worse.

MILLER: That -- but, Chris, that analysis was -- that was modeling off of trying to predict what this (INAUDIBLE) was going to look like --

CUOMO: Right, but it existed. He called it false and misleading. And then you had the head of the OMB come on and he said he didn't even know about whether the analysts was --

FINNEY: But can --

MILLER: Look -- but the bottom line is, if they're not the ones who are out there pushing back, no one's going to do it for them. (INAUDIBLE) --

CUOMO: Right. But how you push back is what matters.

Finney, last, quick word. I've got to go.

FINNEY: So here's the point, right? The more Donald Trump and his administration put out untruths and prey on the, you know, declining faith that people have in their institutions anyway, I mean they're really praying on that and manipulating that. That's bad for the country because at some point people are going to realize Donald Trump is spending more time protecting his own image and attacking people he doesn't like and Congress, like you just had with Lindsey Graham, is going to have to spend more time and money trying to track down whether or not these things are true --

[08:40:25] CUOMO: All right.

MILLER: Chris --

FINNEY: Rather than creating jobs, and rather than taking care of people.

CUOMO: All right. All right.

MILLER: Chris, when people are throwing out crazy conspiracy theories, like this Russia nonsense, you'd better believe that this administration's been -- it's (INAUDIBLE) --

FINNEY: It's not nonsense, David, and you know it. There's plenty of evidence.

CUOMO: OK, Karen Finney, thank you very much.

FINNEY: You're welcome.

CUOMO: Jason Miller, I think you've got to be careful about who throws out crazy conspiracy theories because --

FINNEY: Exactly.

CUOMO: We've heard plenty from the man who's now president of the United States.

But the tactics, always good to go over. I appreciate you being here to do it. We've got to do it more. Karen Finney, same for you.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, guys, thank you very much.

Coming up for us, the new Trump travel ban facing several legal challenges in the courts around the country the day before it takes effect tonight at midnight. Will it stand up to those challenges this time around? We've got "The Bottom Line" straight ahead.


CUOMO: Time now for the "Five Things to Know for Your New Day."

President Trump's 2005 taxes leaked. He paid $38 million in taxes, more like $36.5 million, more than $150 million in income. Some now questioning whether the president himself leaked it as a distraction.

HARLOW: Meantime, FBI Director James Comey could reveal today if the bureau is investigating the Trump campaign for those alleged ties to Russia. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham says he's prepared to subpoena Comey if he doesn't respond to that letter concerning any of those possible probes.

[08:45:02] CUOMO: The CBO score of the Republican health care bill causing more division within the party. Moderates turning away, saying the plan is not what was promised.

HARLOW: Sweeping new indictments in a widening U.S. Navy bribery scandal. Nine more high-ranking active and retired members now charged with accepting travel, elaborate dinners and the services of prostitutes. CUOMO: Millions digging out from a monster storm. A nor'easter dumped as much as two feet of snow in spots. The storm claiming at least seven lives.

That's the "Five Things to Know." Go to for more on those stories.

All right, up next, the leak of the president's taxes, two pages of them, but still something, what do they tell us? What don't they tell us? Is this all just a distraction? We're going to get "The Bottom Line" on that next.

CUOMO: But, first, science -- the science of cognitive training. Think aerobics, but for your mind. It's helped Super Bowl quarterback Tom Brady win big. CNN's Rachel Crane has this week's "Tech-ing Care of Your Health." You see what I did there?


RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So what is this exercise test?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It improves your visual speed and attention.

CRANE: How does cognitive training work?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can build brain exercises that literally rewire the brain, because the brain (INAUDIBLE) change, it does that, and eventually it achieves that goal of becoming faster and more accurate. We've actually built more than 29 exercises right now that target everything from memory, speed, attention, people skills, navigation, intelligence.

CRANE: There's a good amount of controversy surrounding the efficacy of these brain training tools.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. Independent and Academic Review reviewed cognitive training programs and pointed out that, hey, some of them have no evidence and some of them have real evidence. And, in fact, ours was shown to have the highest level of evidence in that academic review.

CRANE: So, real talk, how did I do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You did great. First of all, your memory score was off the chart. I don't actually think I've ever seen anyone come in and get that many items on memory right off the bat.

CRANE: All right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then speed was OK, but you've got some headroom. The important thing isn't how do you do today. The important thing is, hey, where do you want to push your brain tomorrow.

CRANE: Five stars right here. Yes.


[08:50:54] HARLOW: All right, time for "The Bottom Line."

President Trump's tax returns have come to light this morning, kind of, like two pages from 2005. They don't answer a lot of questions, but with so many pressing issues facing the White House right now, like health care, like the Russia cloud, is this all just a distraction?

Let's get "The Bottom Line" with our senior political analyst Mark Preston.

So a lot of talk about where these tax returns, two pages of them --


HARLOW: Not totally telling, from 2005, came from. The journalist who received them in the mail, who was on the program, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist --

CUOMO: David Cay Johnston.

HARLOW: David Cay Johnston, earlier this morning, I ask him, could this have come from the president? He said, yes, it could have. What's your bottom line on this? What do you take away from what we've learned and haven't learned?

PRESTON: So a couple of things. One, 12 years ago, right, so they don't really tell us anything. It's two pages. It just tells us how much he made and how much he paid in taxes. A very good story for President Trump in the sense that it has focused the attention away from some of his problems, as you had mentioned right now, the health care bill, which is on life support right now in Congress. In fact, we're going to see President Trump in Tennessee today, you know, pushing forward on that and trying to get support.

In addition to that, as Chris just spoke a short time ago with Lindsey Graham, Lindsey Graham says that we may hear from FBI Director Comey today whether there is actually any kind of an investigation --

CUOMO: And if not, what did Lindsey Graham say he's going to do?

PRESTON: Well, he's going to -- he's going to use his subpoena power.

CUOMO: Subpoena information.

PRESTON: Which is a -- which is a very big term for our viewers out there. A very big term, specifically when you're talking about the legislative branch --

HARLOW: For the FBI.

PRESTON: Going to the -- yes, going to the executive branch --

CUOMO: Sub -- PRESTON: Demanding --

CUOMO: Subpoena. Sub under poena punishment.


CUOMO: It really is saying, you have to come in. It's compelling.


CUOMO: It's a big deal.

What's the political play on these taxes?


CUOMO: It seems like you gave it to Trump two ways. One is, this is a good reckoning for him.

PRESTON: Totally.

CUOMO: He didn't pay that -- as much in taxes as some might like, but who pays more taxes than they have to.


CUOMO: And, this buffoonery of saying, hey, maybe he put them out, now you're giving him an opening to say fake news because there's no proof that he put them out.

PRESTON: Well -- well, but I would say from a strategic standpoint, and we've seen this from him in the past, that, in fact, if I was one of his advisers, I wish I would have come up with this kind of play, this diversionary tactic.

CUOMO: Right, but there's no proof that it came to him. It says client copy. There could be a lot of --

PRESTON: Well, and there never will be any specific proof. I don't think we'll ever find that out. But let me just say this. It has steered the conversation away from what his problems are at this point right now and then we saw his son last night go on Twitter and all of his supporters, if you look on social media, all of his supporters were backing him up saying, look, Donald Trump gave us his taxes.


CUOMO: Sure.

PRESTON: You finally got what you want. But, guess what, he didn't give us his taxes. He gave us taxes from 12 years ago.

CUOMO: Well, he didn't give us anything.

PRESTON: OK. We saw --

CUOMO: You've got to be careful because he's going to say --


CUOMO: You heard what Preston said --


CUOMO: He said I did it. Where is their proof? Fake news.

PRESTON: Well, and he's already done it so far. I mean we -- we've seen President Trump talk about it this morning, again, gives him another talking point that the media is against him.

HARLOW: All right, so the one area where the president, you know, you can't argue with the fact that he lost on the first executive order travel ban, right? He lost on that one to the courts, right, saw the power of the judiciary. So they come back with take two. Take two on the travel ban takes effect tonight at midnight. You've got five states challenging it in court. How do you see this playing out?

PRESTON: I think that what we saw when this first was rolled out, it became red hot. It was -- it was bungled. It wasn't handled correctly. They weren't allowing visa holders and green card holders in. And it was -- it was done so quickly without the support and guidance and advice of those who understood the ban that it really blew up in their face. I don't think we're going to see that happen this time around. There are exemptions in there now for specific people, depending on what happens. However, it will affect six countries and I think people have moved on.

And, you know, what happens in our --

CUOMO: Have they removed the hurdles, do you think, legally?

PRESTON: Yes. Well, I mean, look, I'm not a lawyer by any stretch of the imagination, but I have heard Jeffrey Toobin say multiple times that he thinks that this could -- our legal analyst -- said this could, in fact, be fine.

HARLOW: And that man knows his stuff, as do you.

CUOMO: So then you go into the secondary question, which is, you may have the legal right to do it, but is it right to do it?


CUOMO: That's a political discussion.

[08:55:00] HARLOW: There you go.

PRESTON: A moral thing, absolutely.

HARLOW: Mark Preston, thank you so much.

Good luck. The big town hall is tonight with HHS Secretary Tom Price. He puts all those things together. Coming up for us --

CUOMO: A lot of negativity in the air, but you know what we have? "The Hood Stuff," next.


CUOMO: All right, how about a little "Good Stuff." Here's a story for you.

A man in New Jersey is being called a hero after jumping in front of a train to help an elderly woman walk across the tracks. It sounds like a storybook, but it's true. Here's the dash cam video. You can see the 89-year-old woman trying to get across the tracks.

HARLOW: Oh, my gosh.

CUOMO: The good Samaritan, John Mango (ph), sitting in his car waiting at the railroad, he saw the bar start to come down, the red flashing light, we all know the signs. He jumps out of his car, helps her across the tracks, just seconds before the train barrels past. The local police chief called the entire incident a miracle that he was in the right place at the right time. She wasn't aware. There was another good Samaritan who jumped out too. He was unidentified.

HARLOW: I love that. Someone documenting it all for us as well. All right.

CUOMO: People do the right thing. We have to remember that.

HARLOW: They do, almost all the time.

It is time for CNN "Newsroom" with the one and only, John Berman.

Berman, if you had to choose, who would you save from the tracks?

[08:59:59] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I've got to sit next to you every day. I'd choose you because --

HARLOW: See, that is the right answer.

BERMAN: You know what, Cuomo -- Cuomo could stop the train. Cuomo could stop the train just by looking at it. He wouldn't need --

HARLOW: With his muscles, yes, right.

BERMAN: He wouldn't need someone to help stop (ph) the train.

CUOMO: That hurts, JB. We've known each other a long time.

BERMAN: You know I'd have a different answer for you if she wasn't there.

CUOMO: It's all right.

BERMAN: All right -- HARLOW: John Berman