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Republicans Chance Health Care Bill to Lure Votes; Trump Dodges Russia Investigation at Campaign Rally; Travel Restrictions Target 8 Middle East & African Countries. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired March 21, 2017 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:06] CAMEROTA: At last count, there were 27 House Republicans that were leaning "no" or were an outright "no" on voting for this. But that was before these amendments.

So is there anything that you see hear that will make it more palatable to holdouts?

GRUBER: Well, I mean, I think the sort of mean-spirited gestures like a work requirement in a program where almost no one can work and those who can already are working, may appeal to some, maybe sort of a step that appeals to some on the right, you know, throwing money at -- throwing a small amount of money at a large problem may provide cover for those older constituents.

But I think anybody who's thinking seriously about this, who opposed it beforehand from the center or the left, should oppose it even more now.

CAMEROTA: Professor Gruber, thank you very much for walking us through this.

GRUBER: My pleasure.

CAMEROTA: Thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" is next. And for our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.


JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: The FBI is investigating any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There is no evidence of a Trump/Russia collusion.

COMEY: Putin hated Secretary Clinton so much, they wanted to hurt her, help him.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER: President Obama could not unilaterally order a wiretap of anyone?

COMEY: No president could.

SPICER: Why is so much information being leaked out now? What are the motives behind it?

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: We should evaluate this nomination on the record, on the merits.

JUDGE NEIL GORSUCH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: I try to treat all who come before me with respect.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (R-IL), JUDICIAL COMMITTEE: We need to know what to do to stand up to this president.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is our long- awaited chance to finally get rid of Obamacare.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: All of these changes that have been added, we're doing to make sure they can't get filibustered.

TRUMP: The end result is going to be wonderful.


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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. WE begin with the White House on the defensive. President Trump's campaign is under investigation by the FBI. We learned about that yesterday.

And the president's bogus wiretapping claim was shot down during a stunning day of testimony on Capitol Hill. The FBI revealing they are investigating whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election.

The White House also not backing down on Trump's unproven hollow claim that he was wiretapped by former President Obama. There was no evidence available to the NSA or the FBI about it.

CAMEROTA: So all of these developments unfolding as the president tries to sell skeptical lawmakers today on the GOP's health care bill. And, the president's Supreme Court nominee faces a second day of questioning in the Senate. The Trump administration in some turmoil on day 61 of his presidency.

Let's begin our coverage with Joe Johns. He's live at the White House. Good morning, Joe.


The headline, under investigation, is something no White House can afford to take lightly. And for a while, yesterday, with it appeared the administration was going into self-defense mode in the briefing room. But when the president stepped up in front of the cameras and the microphones last night in Kentucky, he didn't have anything to say about it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JOHNS (voice-over): President Donald Trump dodging the biggest challenge to rock his administration at a campaign rally Monday night.

COMEY: The FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. And that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts.

JOHNS: FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers facing five hours of questioning before the House Intelligence Committee.

SCHIFF: President Obama could not unilaterally order a wiretap of anyone?

COMEY: No president could.

JOHNS: Comey rejecting Mr. Trump's baseless claim that former President Obama wiretapped his Trump Tower campaign headquarters.

COMEY: I have no information that supports those tweets. The answer is the same for the Department of Justice and all of its components.

JOHNS: The White House trying to dismiss much of Comey's testimony.

SPICER: I think there's a lot of areas that still need to be covered. There's a lot of information that still needs to be discussed.

JOHNS: Continuing to deny any coordination.

SPICER: You can continue to look for something, but continuing to look for something that doesn't exist, doesn't matter.

JOHNS: And incredibly, refusing to back off the president's bogus wiretapping claim.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the president prepared to withdraw that accusation and apologize to the president?

SPICER: No, we started a hearing. It's still ongoing. And then, as Chairman Nunes mentioned, this is one in a series of hearings that will be happening.

JOHNS: President Trump's official government Twitter account firing off defensive tweets in real time throughout the hearing, leading one lawmaker to press Comey to clarify the record.

[07:05:03] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the tweet, as I read it to you, "The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence the electoral process," is that accurate?

COMEY: We've offered no opinion, have no view, have no information on potential impact, because it's never something that we looked at.

JOHNS: Comey also revealing the intelligence community has come to at least one clear conclusion. Russia's interference in the election was primarily driven by Vladimir Putin's disdain for Hillary Clinton.

COMEY: Putin hated Secretary Clinton so much that the flip side of that coin was, he had a clear preference for the person running against the person he hated so much.

JOHNS: Meantime, Republicans trying to deflect from the investigation. Instead, focusing on leaks and who revealed former national security adviser Michael Flynn's identity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One thing you and I agree on is the felonious dissemination of classified material, most definitely, is a crime.

JOHNS: With the president's government account even suggesting Obama might have played a role in the leaks, tweeting, "FBI Director Comey refuses to deny he briefed President Obama on calls made by Michael Flynn to Russia."


JOHNS: The administration's defense, after learning of this investigation, got off to a rocky start yesterday, with White House press secretary Sean Spicer trying to make the case that one of the figures, potentially, in the middle of all of this, Paul Manafort, had a limited role in the campaign. In fact, Paul Manafort was a chief strategist can campaign chairman -- Chris.

CUOMO: Spicer didn't even have the dates right about when Manafort had joined the campaign and what happened there. It was an odd cover- up to be sure. Joe, thanks for pointing that out. Appreciate it.

Joining us now, Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas. Now, take a listen to his questioning of FBI Director Comey at Monday's hearing. Here's a sample.


REP. WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: Knowing what we know now, would the FBI have done anything different in trying to notify the DNC of what happened?

COMEY: Oh, sure.

HURD: What measures would you have had done differently?

COMEY: We'd have sent up a much larger flare. We'd have just kept banging and banging on the door.


CUOMO: One of many intriguing questions asked by the congressman. Thank you for joining us.

What do you think the major developments were from the hearing yesterday, and do you still believe that the president owes former President Obama an apology? HURD: Well, I think one of the major developments is the public

revelation that there is, indeed, an investigation by the FBI ongoing. I think that's a good thing that that is out in the open. We need to make sure we allow federal law enforcement and the FBI to conclude their investigation before we make any judgments on, you know, wrongdoing or any criminal activities.

And I think, look, I've quoted my father many times in the last few days: "It never hurts to say you're sorry." And I think it's more important to say that to our foreign partners, where there was some intimation that they were involved in potentially tapping the building in New York City.

So I think that's something, when we look at the partnership we have with the U.K., it's such an important -- it's such an important ally in the global war on the terrorism and understanding Russia, and you don't want any -- any static to be, you know, there in that relationship.

CUOMO: Well, accusing a former president of a felony and saying he's bad or sick doesn't exactly help relationships either, though, does it, Congressman?

HURD: No, it definitely doesn't.

CUOMO: Now, let me ask you something that was going on yesterday. You say it's good that word of the investigation into the Trump administration, that's a positive, you say.

Part of the spin coming out of that is, this insistence that there's been no offer of proof of collusion. Now, you would explain that by saying, well, it's an ongoing investigation. Comey wouldn't address it yesterday. He never said there was no proof of collusion. He just said, "I'm not going to talk about it."

What do you make of that tactic, to keep pushing? Well, there's been no proof of collusion? It's an ongoing investigation. How would we know?

Well, it is an ongoing investigation. And we wouldn't know until that investigation is complete. And so, trying to make some, you know, we shouldn't read into that statement by Director Comey as whether that is an indication of some type of criminal activity, or an indication that there was no criminal activity. The investigation needs to happen.

And I think -- I think it's also a good example. It shows the checks and balances within our government are working. Sometimes it doesn't feel like the government is working properly, but I think this is an example of where it is. And the fact that you had this hearing in a Republican-led committee, and that days prior, you had Republican leaders from the Senate and the House talking about disagreeing with the White House.

So I think this is -- this shows the checks and balances that are there. I know people want more answers. They want it quicker, but these types of investigations are going to take some time. And -- but I think we have the opportunity within the House Intelligence Committee to review some of the other areas, like, the cyber tools that were used by the Russians to hack into the Democratic National Committee.

We should be looking at, what was the government's responses in these situations and can we improve them in the future? And can we provide some lesson learned to our friends in Europe, who are -- who are subject to the same kind of activity by the Russian government?

CUOMO: Interesting question. I want your head on this.

For the people at home, by the way, Will Hurd isn't just a congressman, although that would be plenty enough as a pedigree, but he worked in intelligence, worked for the CIA, so he has unique insight into these things.

The president was tweeting yesterday, trying to create his own narrative, certainly within his rights and he's clever with it, but he brought up that there was no look into POTUS about connections to Russia. And I'm wondering your take on this.

Do you think that it would have come up at the hearing yesterday? Do you think we would have even have learned from Comey that there is an ongoing since July if the president hadn't kept flagging that there's no connection to him?

HURD: So the question is, would we have learned this?

CUOMO: Do you think Trump kind of pointed us to it in terms of directing questioning to Comey about whether or not there is an investigation involving the president, because he was really the only one talking about whether or not there's specific questions about Trump and Russian interference. It's always been about his staffers, and then Comey wound up being asked about it yesterday in the hearing and wound up divulging there is, in fact, an investigation. It's been going on since July. We'd never heard about it until yesterday.

HURD: Well, I think these issues would have come to light, because the House Intelligence Committee, at a minimum, is looking at four areas. Tools that we're using, and any American that was potentially colluding or corroborating with Russian intelligence.

So that was -- that is, that was one of the major planks of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence's investigation. So I think these areas would have, would have come out. It's always hard to predict what would have happened, and things would have been differently.

The reality is, we have -- we know where we stand now. We know there's investigation. Let's let that play out, and let's not presume guilty or innocent, until this review is done.

CUOMO: Fair and sober point. Let me ask you about leaks. That was the obvious insistence of many in your party yesterday. They didn't want this to be about Russian interference. They didn't want this to be about wiretapping. They wanted this to be about leaks of information.

Does that ring a little disingenuous to you, when there have been leaks, you know, as long as I've been in this business and you were in the CIA, you know how often we're dealing with leaks. Does it seem to be selective outrage? They weren't upset about all the leaks about Hillary Clinton and those investigations into her during the campaign?

HURD: Well, I think the ranking Democrat on the committee said it best. He said that, just because one individual may be asking a certain question doesn't mean the other questions aren't important. And I think there have been, the volume of leaks over the last couple of months seems to be higher.

It's a problem that we've had under every investigation. It's a problem that existed when I spent 9 1/2 years as an undercover officer in the CIA, and something that was frustrating. Just because it has gone on for a long time, doesn't mean that it's still not a major problem, and it's something that -- that we should try to understand who's doing this.

And also, it's important when this comes around, programs that deal with American citizens, that are sensitive programs and create a lot of privacy concerns not only here in the U.S., but with our allies across the world.

So this is, I think, a heightened issue. Because this is not just political strategy. This is -- this is tactics, techniques, and procedures when it comes to the intelligence community, and it deals with American citizens. So I think that's something that is a big issue.

CUOMO: You know, people keep talking about comparisons to Watergate. Carl Bernstein, obviously, formative of our understanding of what happened during that period.

He tweeted yesterday, the same people who are asking about, you know, these leaks, his tweet said, "I can state with confidence that many intel members now decrying leaks of classified information have, themselves, leaked classified info knowingly. Which, of course, goes to the selective outrage.

Let me ask you a question about that. Deep Throat, a leaker. Do you think he should have gone to jail?

[07:15:00] HURD: Well, I would -- I'm not completely familiar with the -- I'm not an expert on what happened at Watergate. I think that would be considered a whistle-blower under -- under our current laws.

You know, having strong protections for whistle-blowers is important. And so we've been able to be aware of malpractice and wrongdoing throughout the federal government, because of the whistle-blower program. And that's different than going to press on some piece of information, when you have other vehicles out there to get that information to the right people.

So it's a fine line, but -- because I think -- I think Deep Throat now would be considered a whistle-blower.

CUOMO: Interesting. Congressman Hurd, always appreciate your perspective. You're always welcome here on NEW DAY. Be well, sir.

HURD: You, too. Take care. Have a good day.

CUOMO: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Chris, we are following some breaking news right now. Large electronic devices being banned from some international flights coming to the U.S. from parts of the Middle East and Africa. Aviation officials are citing, quote, "a security concern." Let's see what that's about.

CNN's Barbara Starr is live at the Pentagon with all of the breaking details. What have you learned, Barbara?


As you say, these are direct flights, from some countries, some airlines, from the Middle East and Africa directly into the United States banning electronic devices in the cabin, anything larger than your cell phone. If you have a laptop, if you have a tablet, it's got to go now inside your checked luggage.

Let's put up a list of the countries and the airlines impacted by this ruling, by the United States government. It will go into effect in the coming hours. They were given 96 hours to comply with it. Why is this happening?

As you look at the list, it is because there is concern in these places about the screening procedures and the vulnerability that a terrorist could get an explosive device hidden in one of these consumer electronic devices and get it onboard an airplane. They are not saying their specific plot, but suspect No. 1 likely, al Qaeda in Yemen. This is a group that has already demonstrated its ability to get devices onboard planes. The underwear bomber on Christmas day, 2009, the printer cartridge plot that was foiled. Al Qaeda in Yemen is a big concern about trying to attack aircraft coming into the United States -- Chris.

CUOMO: Barbara Starr, very interesting. Thank you for keeping us ahead on that story. Appreciate it.

All right, so you just heard the director of the FBI and the head of the NSA say, there is nothing to Trump's wiretapping claims. And yet, the White House continues. They persist on this issue.

Why? We're going to talk to a Democratic lawmaker who was part of the House intel hearing. What is their take on what is left to discuss on this issue, next.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [07:21:56] COMEY: The FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government.


CAMEROTA: OK. So there were some bombshells yesterday during that testimony. FBI Director James Comey confirming an investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the presidential election. A probe, he said, has been going on since last July.

Comey also saying that there is no evidence, whatsoever, to support Mr. Trump's wiretapping claims.

Joining us now is Democratic congresswoman from California, Jackie Speier. She is a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Good morning, Congresswoman.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: Good morning, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK. So you were there yesterday. Let's talk about some of these bombshells. In terms of the wiretapping, Mr. Trump's claims that President Obama had his headquarters, Mr. Trump's headquarters, wiretapped.

James Comey seemed to put that to rest yesterday. He said that neither he nor the Department of Justice can see any evidence. Is that it? Is that now over? Was that the end yesterday, when James Comey said that, or will Congress continue to investigate these claims?

SPEIER: You know, I don't think Congress was ever interested in investigating these claims, because there was no "there" there. We had Republicans and Democrats, chairs and ranking members on both sides of the House and the Senate coming forward and saying, "There is no evidence."

The only problem is, is you have a White House that's in denial. And the president never, ever steps back. He never apologizes. And I think the result is, is that this denial is going to continue to fester.

Well, his press spokesperson did not seem to think that it was over. And in fact, Sean Spicer seemed to suggest that investigations into this will continue. Let me play this for you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the president prepared to withdraw that accusation, apologize to the president?

SPICER: No, we -- we started a hearing. It's still ongoing. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: What does that mean, Congresswoman? "We've started a hearing about this. It's still ongoing."

SPEIER: I think he was just flummoxed. I don't think he knew where to go with it. He's oftentimes put in a very difficult position.

But the truth of the matter is, there's no way any president, not even President Trump, can order a wiretap. That comes from the Department of Justice. There has to be an establishment of probable cause. You have to take it to a judge to show that there's probable cause, a crime has been committed. And none of those things have taken place. This was, you know, a Saturday morning tweet when he was, you know, unaccounted for, and the result is, is that we're living with it.

Meanwhile, there's all these important issues going on in the country and around the world that we're not addressing, because we're so focused on this crazy tweet.

CAMEROTA: And that's the large issue right there, Congresswoman. You've just hit it on the head. Which is what are you in Congress? Are we in the media, supposed to do when a president or this president makes a false accusation like this?

[07:25:10] What now? Do we just walk away from these wiretapping accusations, though he accused the former president of a felony? Is that -- that's it? We just take that in stride and move on now?

SPEIER: Well, I think spending more time on it gives him, frankly, more credibility over something that is false from its very essence. And you're absolutely right. It is outrageous that President Trump would charge former President Obama with committing a felony.

So the only way to deal with someone who is unwilling to deal with reality, I think, is to begin to ignore it. And I think the media should do that. And I think those of us on the Hill have already said, this is done; it's over. It's cooked.

CAMEROTA: OK. So let's talk about the other bombshell from yesterday, from Director Comey's testimony, and that is that, in fact, there is an investigation ongoing into whether or not there was some sort of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Did you get all of your questions answered?

SPEIER: I got a number of my questions answered, certainly, and a number that were not answered, in part because there is an ongoing investigation. And Director Comey was very clear that he wasn't going to answer those. And I understood that.

But I thought it was very important for the American public to understand why this is so important. The fact that there were so many people in the Trump organization that had ties to Russia, that Guccifer was, in fact, someone that was seen as an operative of the Russian government, and was doing much of the hacking, and that there were persons within the Trump organization, Roger Stone, for one, who was tweeting two months before the actual WikiLeaks dump, there was going to be more data about John Podesta and Hillary Clinton. That, to me, smacks of collusion, aiding and abetting, and certainly is worthy of an investigation.

CAMEROTA: But beyond Roger Stone, beyond Paul Manafort, it sounded as if yesterday, you had some big concerns about Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his relationship with Russia. What do you want to see answered there?

SPEIER: Well, I actually think that Rex Tillerson was a very poor choice for secretary of state. His relationship with Vladimir Putin goes back 17 years. He crowed about it at a speech he gave at the University of Texas in 2016. He received the Order of Friendship, the highest regarded order within Russia, sat next to Putin at a dinner, toasted him.

In addition to that, Igor Session, who was the CEO, is the CEO of one of the largest oil companies, he had done a deal with him. They were friends. I don't want our secretary of state to be so cozy with our biggest adversary.

CAMEROTA: Congresswoman Speier, thank you very much for joining us on NEW DAY.

SPEIER: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Let's get to Chris.

CUOMO: You know, talking about the hearing, Alisyn, one of the big things that came out yesterday was why? Why did Russia want to intervene in the 2016 election? We have Tom Pickering coming on. He's former U.S. ambassador to Russia. How does that filter into his take about why Russia acted in this election and what they might do in the next one?