Return to Transcripts main page


Police Arrested Eight People in Connection with London Attack; Trump Claims He's a Very Instinctual Person; Interview with Representative Eric Swalwell; Manafort Denies Working to Push Putin Agenda; Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired March 23, 2017 - 07:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We do have some breaking news right now out of London. British police making eight arrests in connection with yesterday's deadly terror attack in London outside of the House of Parliament. British Prime Minister Theresa May confirming moments ago that the attacker was once investigated for violent extremism.

CNN's Nic Robertson is live in Birmingham, England with the latest -- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Alisyn, what we're learning is that he was investigated by the British intelligence service MI5 that they decided at that time some years ago he was periphery to their inquiries. They said that he hadn't and wasn't sort of on their current radar if you will.

I'm outside the premises where three men were taken away by armed police in the middle of the night in Birmingham. We're about 100 miles from London. It's one of these -- one of the locations, one of the six locations where overnight police have raided premises now arresting so far eight people. Not clear if all those eight people are directly involved as is the case often in these situations.

People who are not associated will be fairly quickly released. We're expecting a statement by the police here. The raid took about an hour and a half in the middle of the night. The police used a battering ram to gain entry to the building.

[07:35:04] The director general of MI5, the intelligence services here, Andrew Parker, says that his offices are all fully operational at this time.

The main -- the main point today emerging, this man was known to the intelligence services and believed to have been inspired by ISIS -- Alisyn, Chris.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much, Nic, for all of that. Bring us more as soon as you have it.

Meanwhile, President Trump is standing by his controversial wiretapping claims in a new "TIME" magazine interview. The president was asked, is there anything different about making these kinds of predictions without having the factual evidence as president? Mr. Trump answered, "I'm a very instinctual person but my instinct turns out to be right."

Let's talk about this new interview and so much more. We want to bring back Mary Katharine Ham, CNN political commentator and senior writer at "The Federalist," as well as CNN political analyst and editor-in-chief of the "Daily Beast," John Avlon.

OK. We have a couple more things from this new "TIME" magazine very revealing interview that has just been published. About those wiretapping claims, the reporter asked the president, anything you sort of want to say about that or wish you hadn't said, here's what he says.

"When I say wiretapping it was in quotes. Because wiretapping is, you know, today, it is different than wiretapping. It is just a good description. But wiretapping was in quotes. What I'm talk about is surveillance."

John, we have the tweets. Wiretapping was not in quotes. But what does that even mean?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it was in quotes sometimes.

CAMEROTA: Yes, OK. In one tweet it was.

CUOMO: Sometimes it was not.


JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's nonsense talk. The president of the United States is trying to draw distinctions to make his false claims seem rooted in something resembling fact thanks to a rogue action by Devin Nunes, which is going to cause a number of problems down the road but that's a different conversation.

Words have meaning. Particularly from the president of the United States. And his instinct to try to say I din mean exactly what I said not only speaks to the persistent credibility gap around this administration but the fact that it's rooted in this president.

CUOMO: You know, MK, one of the interesting things here, I want your take on it, is this is not new, what Nunes went to the White House with. This is how they got Flynn, right? They were surveilling the Russian ambassador, Flynn was talking to him in the Dominican Republic or wherever, and he got swept up.

They had every reason to know that this was going on and yet the president tweeted as if it were something else that he was talking about, and that's what has caused a lot of the consternation about what Nunes did.

Do you think this was new the White House when Nunes says the idea that they may have been getting caught up in ancillary surveillance which again is exactly what they already knew about Flynn?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. Whether they knew about it or whether Trump himself knew about it I'm not sure because it's pretty clear to me that the wiretapping thing came from a specific media source and that's how he was getting that information. Not from the government and behind the scenes, and having more information than we do. But look, get it right. If you want to tweet about incidental surveillance and that you think it's a problem, I think you can have a valid case but get it right.


HAM: And then we can have that conversation.

CAMEROTA: And in fact --

HAM: It's pretty simple.

CAMEROTA: I mean, Mary Katharine is on to something because in this latest "TIME" magazine --

CUOMO: The whole "get it right first" thing?

CAMEROTA: Get it right. You know what, can I quote you?

CUOMO: Now that's revelatory.

CAMEROTA: May I quote you? No. The point is that in this new article when asked what his sources are, the president says, look, I have articles saying that it happened. I have articles saying it happened but you have to take a look at what they -- look, they just went out at a news conference. Devin Nunes also says it happened in a news conference. I mean, I don't know. I was unable to see it, he says, though he did know about the news conference. But they just had a news conference talking about the surveillance. But the point is my point is about the articles.

The president can go to the primary source. He can go to the CIA, the head of the CIA, the head of the NSA, the head of the FBI, but he prefers to read articles or watch FOX News as we know.

AVLON: Yes. Look, that's just -- I mean, he's not your cranky retired uncle. He's the president of the United States. He's got access to all the intelligence information directly.

HAM: Or he's both.

AVLON: Right. Or both. But the difference would be your cranky retired uncle with access to all the primary documentation from the intelligence community. But if he prefers out of laziness or whatever other motivation there may be to simply repeat what he sees in passing on TV or from hyper partisan news sources that's fundamentally not responsible. He's got to hold himself to a higher standard. It is frankly pathetic that he's repeating things he hears in passing rather than relying on the primary sources that he almost exclusively has access to. CUOMO: MK, what do you think? Just quickly, because we don't have a

lot of time but what's your take on Nunes here and what should happen now?

HAM: Look, I don't know what the next step is. It seems to me obviously an issue if you're investigating somebody but you're also -- or his associates, I guess it's not technically President Trump.

[07:40:05] You're investigating someone and you're giving them information backchannel about the investigation, that becomes a conflict.

AVLON: It's problematic, yes.

CAMEROTA: All right. Thank you, guys. Thank you for that, very much. And coming up on NEW DAY we will have that "TIME" magazine reporter who just did this very revealing interview with President Trump and what he thinks about the findings.

CUOMO: Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi says the House Intel Committee chairman Devin Nunes -- what we were just talking about. She says he is deeply compromised, then she questions whether or not there can be a fair investigation of Trump's campaign ties to Russia.

A Democratic member of that committee joins us next.


CUOMO: So did House Intelligence chairman Devin Nunes compromise his committee's investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia when he went around the committee and briefed the press and the president about what he had just learned?

Let's talk to a Democratic member of the Intel Committee, California Congressman Eric Swalwell.

Now, Congressman, let's give Nunes his best defense which is, I learned about this, I thought it was fundamentally important and new for the commander-in--chief so I went to the press and I went to him. I don't see what's wrong with that. Your take.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (R), CALIFORNIA: He's not the president's lawyer and he betrayed the independence that our committee must show at such a trying time in our nation's history.

You know, Chris, he should have brought the evidence that he had to our committee. He never should have taken it to the president whose campaign is under federal criminal investigation right now and this is all the more reason that we need an independent commission to get to the bottom of this.

[07:45:03] This cannot be conducted in Congress in the impartial independent way that the American people are expecting.

CUOMO: Now I want to talk to you about what seems evident of Nunes' motivations in a second, though. Let's get to the main question. What are you going to do about it? You can't remove him. You guys aren't the party in power. What is the ability to make anything change even after what Nunes did?

SWALWELL: Elijah Cummings and I wrote the bill that calls for an independent bipartisan commission. We would get to the bottom of what happened if any U.S. persons were responsible particularly tied to the Trump campaign and most importantly what can we do to make sure we're never in this mess again?

We have one Republican on board, Walter Jones. We need more Republicans now to come forward. Put their country and their love for patriotism over a party. Because right now this has taken us nowhere. And we have seen the attorney general has had to recuse himself because he lied twice to the Senate about contacts to Russia. And now the chairman presiding over an independent, what is supposed to be collaborative process on the Intelligence Committee has gone over to the White House and has conflicted himself out of this.

CUOMO: How did Sessions lie twice? Didn't he lie once when he said that he didn't have any contact with the Russians?

SWALWELL: No. The one time was on a questionnaire and one time was in -- on the hearing.

CUOMO: So you're counting on the separate things. I got you. So now, to why Nunes did it and what its impact was. Nunes says this was new information for the president, I thought he should know it. Do you believe that? Isn't this a reflection of exactly how Flynn got caught up on surveillance of the Russian ambassador? The White House knew about that. They know that the -- the FBI is looking into contacts like those that Flynn had which suggest that this is how they were monitoring those contacts.

Do you think it was new information or do you think it was convenient information to help the White House justify its spin about being surveilled or wiretapped by Obama?

SWALWELL: Chris, this was nothing new. And let me speak very clearly to the American people. This was a stunt. There's no evidence that President Obama wiretapped Donald Trump. There's no evidence that President Obama surveilled Donald Trump.

This is nothing new and if it shows anything it shows that members of the transition team were caught up in what we call incidental collection because there were targets that they were talking to which again I don't see how this helps their case.

CUOMO: The idea that Nunes told them about that part or told us, told the press, right, when he went to the White House about this that they were being surveilled, which is helpful to the Trump tweet analysis, even though he said wiretapping -- he's gone all over the place with that as has Spicer, but he did not tell the press, oh and by the way, as part of what I learned here, turns out the FBI is looking at more than just contacts. It's looking at potential knowledge or connections of collusion to the efforts to the disseminate information. He didn't say anything about that. Why do you think? SWALWELL: It was a stunt. It was nothing more than the latest smoke

bomb that has been rolled into this investigation to obstruct what is going on here. We learned from the FBI director on Monday that they are connecting the personal, political and financial dots that connect the Trump team to the convergence that is -- the dots that converge with the Russian interference in our election, an investigation is underway. We just hope the FBI pursues all leads and follows all evidence at this point.

CUOMO: Now six months, this has been going on since July. Why Comey -- Comey says it was an open investigation, I couldn't talk about it the way I did with the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation because that one was over, let's put that part to the side.

People look at the amount of time that's been going on. These questions have always existed and there has been no proof of any collusion, of anything that will be more than contact. At what point do you have to accept that and move on otherwise does this become a stunt even to look it?

SWALWELL: It's very, very early for a counterintelligence criminal investigation that involves foreign entities. I mean, we're talking about witnesses who are abroad, we're talking about complex financial transactions, and we're talking about a number of different individuals so this isn't even a year into the investigation. Typically investigations of this magnitude could take years. And we actually, during our hearing, did put forward a number of pieces of evidence that show ties between the Trump team and Russia's interference campaign like Carter Page going over to Moscow with permission of a campaign a month after it was revealed that Russia was attacking us.

CUOMO: Have you asked Nunes to step down?

SWALWELL: No. No. You know, so, Chris, Nunes has led our committee through a bipartisan cyber security bill. We've reauthorized the Intelligence Authorization Act each year. He's had some very good days on this committee. Yesterday so far was his worst day. So let's not judge him by his best day, let's not judge him by his worst day. Let's see what he does today when we meet in about an hour and if he tells us what evidence he has, what he's going to do to make sure that this is an independent, collaborative search for the truth, and how he can make sure that never again will he go over to the White House as its lawyer and he'll only show the independence that the chairman must have.

CUOMO: You ever the expression, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me?

[07:50:03] SWALWELL: Yes.

CUOMO: If it's so important to you why would you wait for a second instance of it? You saw what just happened. You saw what information he took there. You saw how he didn't deal with the committee. Why would you expect anything different going forward? SWALWELL: I still have hope that this process is salvageable. It may

not be with him leading the investigation as the chair. Perhaps recusing himself from this part of the investigation and the work that the committee must do I think is an option. But I want to speak with him this morning when we go meet in about an hour and find out how we go forward and how the American people can look at us as a credible investigation.

CUOMO: All right. I appreciate it, Congressman. Thank you. And any developments you have that can be open to the public in this regard, very important. You're always welcome here on NEW DAY.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

CUOMO: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: So, Chris, is this entire conversation about the House Intel Committee distracting us from the new information about Paul Manafort? What are Trump's former campaign chairman's ties to Russia? We have the deep reporting that you have to see next.


CAMEROTA: President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort admitting that he did work for a Russian billionaire back in 2005, but he denies allegations that he helped push Russian President Vladimir Putin's agenda.

So what was Paul Manafort doing for the Russians? CNN's senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin has more.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The latest connection between a close Trump associate and Russia was dug up by the Associated Press, reporting a 2005 memo in which Paul Manafort, already working for a Russian billionaire named Oleg Deripaska, was pitching a plan to "greatly benefit the Putin government."

Manafort confirmed to CNN he did work for Oleg Deripaska, but he rejects the Associated Press interpretation that he was pushing the political interests of Vladimir Putin, including to, quote, "influence politics, business dealings, and news coverage inside the United States."

"I have always publicly acknowledged that I worked for Mr. Deripaska and his company, Rusal, to advance its interests," Manafort told CNN through a spokesman, adding, "I did not work for the Russian government."

[07:55:11] Once again Manafort writes, "Smear and innuendo are being used to paint a false picture."

A spokesman for Deripaska told CNN, Manafort provided "investment consulting services" but declined to provide any additional details. Manafort and his Russian billionaire had a major falling out. Court

documents show Deripaska funneled nearly $19 million into a Manafort business venture registered in the Cayman Islands in 2007. They invested in a Ukrainian telecom company. But the deal went south, and according to a legal filing, Deripaska's company said Manafort "simply disappeared."

White House spokesman Sean Spicer this afternoon downplaying any connection this has to the president.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He was a consultant. He had clients from around the world. There is no suggestion that he did anything improper or -- and -- but to suggest that the president knew who his clients were from a decade ago is a bit insane. He was hired to do a job. He did it. That's it, plain and simple.

GRIFFIN: It's just the latest Russian headline headache for the Trump administration. CNN has reported the FBI's already investigating possible connections between Trump campaign officials, including Manafort, and Russian officials. Manafort was fired by the Trump campaign on August 19th. That was the same day the FBI announced Manafort was involved in another investigation and another possible connection to Russia.

This time it was his consulting work for the pro-Russian former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanakovich, who eventually had to flee his own country, seeking refuge in Russia with Vladimir Putin. The government of Ukraine opened an investigation into possible corruption and money laundering charges against Yanakovich and his political party after Manafort's name appeared on a ledger of $12.7 million in secret payments.

Manafort denies he ever took money illegally from anyone in his worldwide consulting business. He denies he pushed any Russian agenda while working in Ukraine and he now denies that connection with a Russian billionaire had anything to do with a plan to enrich Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.


CAMEROTA: All right. We are following a lot of news this morning, so let's get right to it.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Trump associates and Russians coordinating the release of damaging information to the Hillary Clinton campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump getting up with some intelligence reports.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you feel vindicated?


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: If the chairman briefed the press in advance of briefing his own committee members, that is a deep, deep problem.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can't have a presidential whisperer.

TRUMP: We must repeal Obamacare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I came into the meeting with being a no and I left being a no.

REP. MARK MEADOWS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: I'm really optimistic that we can get there.

ROBERTSON: Chaos in the heart of London.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were people on the ground. I saw people flying in the air.

MAYOR SADIQ KHAN, LONDON: London will never be cowed by terrorism.


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

CAMEROTA: Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is a very busy news day so we do begin with breaking news for you.

British police have made eight arrests in connection with yesterday's deadly terror attack in London outside the House of Parliament. British Prime Minister Theresa May just confirming that the attacker was once investigated for violent extremism. The attack may be ISIS inspired. We have much more on this developing story for you.

CUOMO: But first CNN has new reporting on the FBI's investigation on the Trump campaign's ties to Russia. CNN has learned it's no longer just about contacts, it's about what the motives for those contacts. Were the president's associates coordinating with Russian operatives to release damaging information about Hillary Clinton's campaign?

CAMEROTA: Also, there's growing questions about whether the House Intel Committee's investigation into Russia is now compromised after its chairman went directly to the president with sensitive information.

All of this as the showdown over health care is in its final hours with Republicans at this hour still divided.

CUOMO: A lot going on, on day 63 of the Trump presidency. Let's get to CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez live in Washington.

And Evan, you've been advancing the ball on this. At first it was contacts, but we didn't understand the underlying motivations for the FBI. Now it seems we're closer to understanding that. PEREZ: That's right, Chris. Well, U.S. officials tells CNN that the

FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign.

FBI director James Comey made his bombshell announcement on Monday before Congress that the FBI is investigating Trump campaign's ties to Russia. The FBI is now reviewing that information which includes human intelligence, travel, business and phone records, and accounts of in-person meetings.